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Saturday, April 15, 2000

AG hands over
Ige/Holt inquiry

Campaign spending panel takes
over a probe of Kamehameha's
political contributions because,
a source says, it now covers
civil, not criminal issues

By Rick Daysog


The state Campaign Spending Commission has taken over the attorney general's investigation into political contributions by Kamehameha Schools and its outside contractors.

Deputy Attorney General Kurt Spohn met with commission Executive Director Bob Watada yesterday to deliver documents relating to the state's criminal investigation into the charitable trust's alleged campaign fund-raising efforts.

Watada declined comment, saying he has not reviewed the materials, and Spohn could not be reached for immediate response.

But a source familiar with the investigation said that much of the materials related the alleged illegal donations to the campaigns of state Sen. Marshall Ige and former Sen. Milton Holt.

The attorney general's office previously charged that trust employees directed several local architecture and engineering firms to give thousands of dollars in illegal campaign donations to Ige in 1994 and Holt in 1996.

The state said that former estate employee Namlyn Snow urged Kajioka Yamachi Architects Inc., Ronald N.S. Ho & Associates, Okita Kunimitsu & Associates, Sato & Associates and Akinaka & Associates Ltd. to pay a $12,334.44 campaign debt owed by Holt to a local printing firm.

The attorney general's office also said that the Kajioka firm improperly paid an $18,262.71 campaign debt owed by Ige.

Holt, a former trust employee, has since pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges, and Ige, an ally of former trustee Henry Peters, faces misdemeanor charges relating to the campaign finance scheme. But none of the outside vendors have been charged with criminal or civil violations.

All of the firms, which were awarded thousands of dollars in nonbid contracts by the trust, have denied wrongdoing.

Previously, the Campaign Spending Commission held hearings on the Holt and Ige campaign finance schemes but turned over its investigation to the attorney general's office for criminal prosecution.

One person familiar with the state's investigation said the attorney general's office decided to transfer the investigation back to the Campaign Spending Commission since much of remaining allegations involve civil and not criminal violations. The attorney general's office also had statute-of-limitations concerns, the source said.

For Kamehameha Schools, issues involving campaign donations are a sensitive matter. Under federal law, a trust could lose its tax-free status if it makes campaign donations or plays a prominent role in an election.

One trust adviser said that Kamehameha Schools' current interim board of trustees have already notified the Internal Revenue Service of alleged political intervention by the estate's previous board of trustees.

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