Willful misconduct caused legal plunge
Dalton Tanonaka has been sentenced to three months in prison for lying about campaign finances in his bids for elective office.
DALTON Tanonaka suggests that his campaign spending-related crimes
were unintended mistakes, but one aspect of his behavior was clearly a case of deliberate deception for monetary gain. The three-month prison sentence was a slap on the wrist of the newsman-turned-politician, who lacks the fabric for either journalism or public office.
Tanonaka, 51, lost in his Republican candidacies for lieutenant governor in 2002 and Congress in 2004. He was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor after pleading guilty to four counts of making false financial statements and accepting an excessive campaign contribution.
Tanonaka received $48,000 in loans from two people and deposited all but $3,000 of it in his 2002 campaign fund, neglecting to list the loans as unpaid liabilities. Two years later, he accepted $25,000 from his brother-in-law and transferred $11,000 into his congressional war chest, listing it as a loan from himself. He suggests those violations were unintentional, arising from ignorance of the rules or neglect.
That cannot explain his concealment of ties to contractor Kyle Dong and his attempt to gain Dong's favor with Lingle. Tanonaka tried to set up a meeting in 2003 between the governor and officials from Dong's Koa Timber, which had applied to the state to harvest koa and ohia trees on the Big Island.
In an e-mail to the governor, Tanonaka brazenly claimed to have no financial interest in the logging. In fact, he had a fresh contract with Dong for consulting work that was to pay him $10,000 a month. Tanonaka also did not list the contract in his financial disclosure report in the congressional campaign.
Cloaking himself in humility and civic duty, Tanonaka accepted blame in court and said afterward, "I will continue to contribute to the community in ways I can in the future." That is difficult if not impossible to envision.
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