Friday, April 18, 2003

6 firms and 2 men
fined for illegal donations

By Rick Daysog

The state Campaign Spending Commission has approved more than $62,000 in fines against eight companies and individuals for making excessive political donations to major local Democratic candidates.

By 3-0 vote, the commission approved fines against the engineering and development firms of Fukunaga & Associates Inc., Fujita & Associates, W.A. Hirai & Associates Inc., AM Partners Inc., Stanford Carr Development Corp. and WMO Corp.

The commission also voted to issue a $750 fine to local real estate executive Joe Leoni and a $500 fine to isle attorney Mitchell Imanaka.

The largest penalty -- $24,000 -- went to Fukunaga & Associates for making more than $36,000 in false-name contributions to the campaigns of Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris and former Gov. Ben Cayetano.

The commission also fined W.A. Hirai $19,000 to settle charges that the company made $30,000 in excessive political donations to Harris, Cayetano, former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and ex-Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana.

Fujita & Associates agreed to an $11,000 fine for making false-name contributions to Cayetano, Harris, Apana and Hirono.

The commission was scheduled to approve a $53,000 penalty against the engineering firm of Edward K. Noda and Associates for allegedly laundering $90,000 in campaign funds to Harris, Cayetano and Hirono.

But that case was kept off yesterday's agenda after commission staffers discovered additional illegal contributions, said Bob Watada, the commission's executive director.

The fines come as the commission and the Lingle administration are lobbying the state Legislature to tighten Hawaii's campaign spending laws.

Hawaii law limits donors to giving $4,000 to a mayoral candidate and $6,000 to a gubernatorial candidate during a four-year election cycle. Contributors also are barred from making donations in the name of others.


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