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Friday, January 21, 2000

City & County of Honolulu

Councilman explains
campaign finance mistakes

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said questions raised about discrepancies in his campaign finances are "an embarrassing situation for me" that he is trying to rectify.

Yoshimura said the discrepancies occurred because volunteers handle the financial details of his campaign spending reports.

"While these volunteers are very well-meaning," he said, "some of them don't really know the specifics of campaign financing law."

Robert Watada, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, said he has ordered Yoshimura to hire an independent certified public accountant to review his books and explain the conflicts.

Watada said a report by the CPA is due Feb. 10.

The commission has been working with Yoshimura for some two years trying to solve a number of discrepancies found in his campaign account, Watada said.

For instance, a recent filing of a spending report was $10,000 less in receipts than found in the electronically filed report, Watada said. The amount of cash on hand between the two filings showed a differential of between $5,000 and $6,000, he said.

Additionally, several thousand dollars in reimbursements that the campaign made to Yoshimura need clearer explanations, Watada said.

For instance, the commission wants to know what a trip to Maui, for which Yoshimura received reimbursements, has to do with his campaign, Watada said. "Many of the entries we just don't understand," he said.

Yoshimura said he finds campaign financing "rather distasteful" and that he probably should have paid more attention to the reports that were filed.

As for reimbursements made to him by his campaign, Yoshimura said, some were for a loan he made to his campaign while others were to compensate for his personal expenditures on community luncheons and donations to nonprofit groups.

"My hope is that we can clear this up once and for all and have some systems that my volunteers can use to make sure these types of discrepancies do not occur again in the future," he said.

"Basically, it's a record-keeping problem."

Yoshimura began his second, four-year term on the Council last year.

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