The state senator is accused ofBy Rick Daysog
violating state campaign laws
State Sen. Marshall Ige today pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he violated state campaign finance laws.
The 44-year-old Ige (D, Kane- ohe), who appeared before Circuit Judge Victoria Marks for arraignment this morning, said the state attorney general's case against him is politically motivated.
"I just want to say that I believe that my family and I were sacrificed to get Ben (Gov. Ben Cayetano) re-elected," Ige said. "I just hope no family will go through the hell we've been going through."
In a seven-count complaint filed last month, the attorney general's office charged that Ige failed to report campaign expenditures, failed to disclose a campaign deficit and accepted an improper campaign loan.
Each of the seven counts is a misdemeanor, and all but one of the counts arise from an alleged campaign finance scheme involving Bishop Estate and several of its vendors.
If convicted, Ige could face up a year in prison and a $2,000 fine for each campaign spending violation.
Ige also could be barred from holding elected office for four years.
Marks has tentatively set a Sept. 20 trial before Circuit Judge Sandra Simms.
Deputy Attorney Kurt Spohn today asked for an October trial date to accommodate an out-of-country witness.
Both Spohn and Cayetano have denied that politics is playing a role in the state's case.
"No one I know takes joy in Sen. Ige's misfortune," Cayetano said through a spokeswoman. "Politics has nothing to do with this situation he finds himself in."
Ige said the campaign finance practices that serve as a basis for the state's criminal charges were initially approved by an attorney with the state Campaign Spending Commission.
He compared his plight with that of Japanese Americans in Hawaii who prior to World War II were politically disenfranchised.
"I have told my family that I now know how many of the AJAs felt during the war. Being prejudged by a group with power, resulting with no due process," Ige said.
"Yet, for their belief in the system, they gladly went to war and many gave up their lives."