Executive fined $39,000 for illegal campaign gifts
The state Campaign Spending Commission yesterday slapped a $39,000 fine on an engineering company executive for making illegal contributions to the campaigns of former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, former Gov. Ben Cayetano and others.
Edward Harada also gave money under other people's names to the campaigns of former Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana and former Honolulu Councilman Arnold Morgado.
Bob Watada, the commission's executive director, said the improper donations totaled about $35,000 between 1996 and 2001.
They included about $19,000 given to Harris, which exceeded the $4,000 limit on individual donations for a mayoral campaign.
Watada said Harada and his employer, M&E Pacific Inc., came forward, saying they did not want to contest the case and just wanted to pay a fine.
Harada and M&E Pacific President Rudy Mina could not be reached for comment.
Harada will pay the fine with his personal funds but also will get some financial help from Mina, Watada said.
Watada said all but about $100 of the improper donations went through Harada, but Mina, as president of the company, was aware of them.
Harada and Mina last year pleaded no contest to charges of making illegal political contributions to the Harris campaign. A District Court judge fined them each $4,000.
In a separate case, the commission voted to defer action on a complaint against the campaign committee of James Arakaki, who represents South Hilo on the Hawaii County Council.
The commission said it would wait until it received a letter from Arakaki and his attorney about the council member's plan to return contributions made to his legal defense fund.
The complaint against Arakaki said donations made to the fund to pay his legal bills should have been reported as campaign contributions.
The commission is due to hold its next meeting on Nov. 9.