Wednesday, March 25, 1998

$43,183 missing from Holt's campaign fund

The former senator says
a ‘computer glitch’ caused
the discrepancy

By Susan Kreifels

The state Campaign Spending Commission yesterday sent former state Sen. Milton Holt a notice giving him five days to explain why $43,183 is missing from his campaign fund.

But Holt said no improper spending had occurred and that any discrepancies were due to a "computer glitch."

Tony Baldomero, the commission's associate director, said three of Holt's campaign spending reports covering November 1996 through December 1997 were filed late on March 12.

An adjustment was filed on the second report subtracting $43,183 in campaign funds to match the $56 cash on hand listed on bank statements.

Baldomero said that violates state campaign spending laws, which require all spending to be itemized on the reports. "Our question is: What happened to the money?" Baldomero asked.

The commission will review Holt's response, and if it is not satisfied, can further investigate or initiate a fine. If it finds there is probable cause of a "willful violation," the matter can be sent to the state attorney general, Baldomero said.

Holt yesterday said his campaign treasurer, Franklin Kudo, told him the discrepancy was due to a "computer glitch" when records were transferred from one computer to another.

"A total just kept accumulating that didn't reconcile with my balance in the bank," Holt said. "My campaign is zeroed out -- we spent all the money. I feel confident nothing is improper."

Holt said the reports were filed late due to a "communication problem" between Kudo and himself in getting the records together. Kudo said the error was due to a computer glitch or accounting error, and that an accountant has been hired who will start working on the problem tomorrow.

Baldomero said he didn't believe the problem was due to a "computer glitch. We looked at it. They failed to enter everything into the computer correctly and never called us for support."

A longtime Bishop Estate employee, Holt's credit card expenses at Nevada casinos and Honolulu hostess bars are part of the attorney general's investigation of Bishop Estate finances.

Holt's missing funds follow the federal conviction of former state House Speaker Danny Kihano last October for diverting $27,000 from his campaign fund for personal use.

The following month the commission voted to file a complaint against Kihano and his two campaign treasurers.

The complaint involves $69,135 in expenses paid by Kihano between 1991 and 1995 from his campaign treasury.

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