Friday, December 21, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Mayor fires formal
volley at state
campaign panel

The Harris campaign says Watada
wrongly disclosed information

By Rick Daysog

Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign filed a formal complaint today with the state Ethics Commission against the executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, which has been investigating donations to Harris.

Robert Watada, the campaign commission's executive director, said the complaint is part of effort to harass his office.

"It's an attempt to shut us up," he said.

In a five-page complaint, Harris campaign attorney Chris Parsons alleged that Watada violated the state ethics code by improperly disclosing information and commenting to the local media about the investigation into the Harris campaign over the past six years.

Parsons also alleged that Watada's comments gave an "unwarranted advantage" to Harris's election opponents. Harris is running for governor as a Democrat in 2002.

"Despite the fact that no official action has been taken against the campaign, Mr. Watada's public statements have repeatedly assaulted the reputations of the mayor and his campaign volunteers," Parsons said.

Watada, however, said that all of the commission's activities are open to the public. He added that the Harris camp filed its complaint because the commission's investigation is turning up highly critical information about donations made during Harris' successful 2000 mayoral reelection campaign.

Watada recently said that his office is investigating more than 50 contributors to the Harris campaign and has issued more than 40 subpoenas to the firms. The commission also has fined seven Harris donors for giving excessive contributions.

Parsons could not be reached for immediate comment today.

Dan Mollway, the ethics commission's executive director, confirmed that his office received the complaint today. He said his office will review the complaint and will issue an advisory opinion. If the charges are upheld, the ethics commission can hold a contested-case hearing where the merits of the charges will be debated.

If the ethics commission rules in favor Parson's complaint, it will turn over its investigation to the Cayetano administration to act on.

City & County of Honolulu

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