Saturday, October 9, 2004

Grand jury probes
Harris campaign

This is the second convening of
a jury in the investigation
of the mayor

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle will convene an investigative grand jury next month as part of his wide-ranging criminal probe into Mayor Jeremy Harris' political campaign.

An Oahu grand jury issued subpoenas during the last several days to local architects and city staffers, according to recipients of the subpoenas.

The grand jury hearing is scheduled for Nov. 10 at state Circuit Court.

The volume of subpoenas suggests that the investigative grand jury is looking beyond campaign spending violations and is focusing on the awards of city contracts to donors to the Harris campaign.

Harris campaign officials have denied any connection between political contributions and city contracts.

The prosecutor's office had no comment.

This is only the second investigative grand jury convened by the prosecutor's office in its 2 1/2-year investigation into Harris' 2000 re-election campaign and his aborted 2002 gubernatorial campaign.

The previous investigative grand jury, which met in September 2002, examined the city's development of the $23 million Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park and the $45 million Central Oahu Regional Park.

That grand jury questioned architects, engineers and city officials about cost overruns but did not return indictments.

Prosecutors recently hinted that their investigation was looking into alleged "pay to play" schemes in which architects and engineers were asked to make political donations to receive nonbid government contracts.

Last month, Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee told a state judge that local engineer George Nishimura testified that local political fund-raiser Dennis Mitsunaga, a longtime ally of former Gov. Ben Cayetano, "was instrumental in securing state and city jobs" for him.

Nishimura pleaded no contest to making illegal political donations to the Harris campaign but was granted a deferral of his criminal case due to his cooperation with the prosecutor's investigation.



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