Thursday, January 17, 2002

Cayetano doubts
Harris’ complicity

Most elected officials
do not get involved in
fund raising, he says

By Richard Borreca

Saying the campaign spending investigation of Mayor Jeremy Harris and his 2000 mayoral campaign is serious, Gov. Ben Cayetano doubts that the Democratic mayor would be personally involved.

In a meeting with reporters, Cayetano speculated that if no criminal charges are filed, it could actually help Harris' campaign for governor. Cayetano figures that Harris could pick up a sympathy vote if the case fails.

"It is a terrible thing for anyone to go through, but if there is nothing to it, it may help him because it would show he was treated unfairly," Cayetano said.

The Campaign Spending Commission voted Tuesday to refer its investigation to the city prosecutor. Commission Executive Director Bob Watada said there was evidence that there were deliberate violations of campaign spending laws by the Harris campaign.

Harris has insisted that Watada's actions are part of a political vendetta against him.

Cayetano said that the allegations were "shocking" and could hurt. "If they are true, the people who did it are in trouble," he said.

"If I were to give you $100,000, and you were the campaign manager, and then you were to go out and find the names for it, that is clearly a violation of the law. I don't know if that is what happened, but that appears to be the allegation that is being made," Cayetano said.

"I can't believe, if that happened, the mayor was part of it -- most of us don't get involved in the fund raising. In my two campaigns for governor, I must have raised $9 million, and I don't have a clue who gave," Cayetano said.

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, who plans to run for mayor in anticipation of Harris resigning to run for governor, is waiting for some sign she will have a campaign.

"It's an investigation. I expect that (city Prosecutor) Peter Carlisle is going to do a thorough job of it one way or the other.

"If he can do it quickly and he finds nothing wrong, then I think the Harris campaign will proceed. It's hard to predict what's going to happen," Hirono said.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in the state House said they will push for a law to ban political contributions from corporations, a measure supported by Watada.

"This bill will provide for more transparency so that the public will know who is giving and to whom," said Rep. Eric Hamakawa (D, South Hilo-Puna), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

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