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Friday, September 27, 2002



Attorney says
Harris is victim of
smear campaign

"This is nothing but a hatchet job,"
says William McCorriston


By Rick Daysog
rdaysog@starbulletin.com

The lawyer for Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris charged yesterday that Harris is a victim of a smear campaign to link him to a former Maui beauty queen who was indicted for theft and arrested for allegedly promoting prostitution.

William McCorriston said that Harris and his wife, Ramona, have never met Lisa Katherine Otsuka, nor do they know the 32-year-old former Ewa resident. McCorriston also said the Harris campaign did not employ Otsuka, nor did it make any direct payments to her.

"Enough is enough. The mayor is outraged by attempts to link him to Ms. Otsuka," McCorriston said. "This is nothing but a hatchet job."

The Star-Bulletin previously reported that city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle is investigating more than $75,000 in payments made by the Harris campaign to one of its vendors, Campaign Service Inc.

Campaign Service is a local public relations and political research firm headed by Harry Mattson and Norma Wong, two longtime supporters of former Gov. John Waihee.

People familiar with the prosecutor's investigation said that some of the payments to Campaign Service wound up in Otsuka's accounts.

McCorriston cited a news release issued by Mattson's attorney that said Otsuka had no connections to Harris and that Mattson thought he was investing his own money with a reputable businesswoman.

"Mr. Mattson is deeply disturbed by a situation where his investment of personal resources in a legitimate business with someone he believed to be a successful entrepreneur has turned out otherwise," the release said.

McCorriston also took issue with Bob Watada, the head of the state Campaign Spending Commission, who questioned the payments. Watada's remarks are based on "innuendo and rumor" and come from a person who did not want Harris to run for governor or serve as mayor, McCorriston said.

Yesterday, the Star-Bulletin reported that Honolulu police officers arrested Otsuka on Aug. 15 on suspicion of promoting prostitution.

Otsuka -- a former Miss Maui who was stripped of the title -- was not charged in the Aug. 15 arrest. But she was arrested again on Sept. 9 for failing to appear before a grand jury investigating the Harris campaign.

On Tuesday an Oahu grand jury indicted Otsuka for second-degree theft for allegedly taking several thousand dollars from a benefit for at-risk youths.



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