The estate could faceBy Rick Daysog
charges for alleged illegal
Bishop Estate said it has opened an in-house investigation after the state Campaign Spending Commission informed the trust that it may face criminal charges over alleged illegal campaign contributions.
The estate said it would not condone the alleged campaign-spending violations, and that they would violate the trust's internal policy if they had occured.
"The board of trustees has never authorized such activities and the trustees have initiated an internal inquiry into this matter," it said.
On Friday, the commission sent notices to the estate and two of its employees, Yukio Takemoto and Namlyn Snow, informing them that they may have violated campaign-spending laws.
Takemoto, state budget director under former Gov. John Waihee, is the estate's principal executive for budget and review, and Snow heads the trust's government affairs efforts and is a longtime aide to trustee Henry Peters.
The commission also sent letters to Sen. Marshall Ige and former state Sen. Milton Holt, a Bishop Estate employee. Ige and Holt were the recipients of the alleged illegal campaign contributions.
Bob Watada, the commission's executive director, said he will recommend the commission turn the case over to state Attorney General Margery Bronster for prosecution. The commission meets again Oct. 20. Violating campaign-spending laws is a misdemeanor which can result in up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
If convicted, Ige would have to surrender his Senate seat and would be banned from holding elected office for four years.The commission's letter is based on allegations detailed in Bronster's petition earlier this month to remove Bishop Estate's trustees, Watada said.
According to Bronster, the estate solicited five local engineering and architectural firms to pay-off campaign debts for Ige and Holt in 1994, using phony invoices.
The five companies -- which also received letters from the commission -- include Kajioka, Okada, Yamachi Architects Inc.; Sato and Associates Inc.; Ronald N.S. Ho & Associates; Akinaka & Associates Inc.; and Okita, Kunimitsu and Associates.
An attorney for Holt declined comment. Ige said he felt he was being unfairly singled out.
Ige denied wrongdoing, saying he was not aware that his debts were being paid improperly.
Ige added that the commission in its Friday letter also asked him to justify some $300 of campaign funds that he used to buy movie tickets for young children. The agency also asked him to explain a neighbor island airplane ticket he bought with campaign funds.
Ige said he bought the movie tickets for young children to attract people to vote for him. The plane ticket was for travel to a funeral for the mother of a fellow legislator.
"They never questioned these in the past, why today?" Ige said. "I feel like I'm being singled out."
Groups involved in the Bishop Estate controversy are urging the public to join in rallies this week to support the temporary removal of the estate's trustees.
The rallies, outside the Circuit Court building in Honolulu, are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. tomorrow and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi -- a 2,700-member group of Kamehameha Schools students, parents and teachers -- said the gatherings will show Probate Judge Colleen Hirai that there is a "desperate need of immediate relief from this 15-month-old controversy that has plagued the schools, the estate and the community."
"Most urgent will be pleas from teachers and staff, who will attest to the harm being caused to the educational environment on the Kapalama campus," it said in a news release.
Among the other groups encouraging the public to join are the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association, and the Kamehameha Association of Teachers and Parents.
Participants are asked to dress in blue and white, Kamehameha's school colors.
Lindsey testifiesBy Susan Kreifels
before grand jury
Under subpoena to appear, Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey today went before a grand jury investigating possible charges of mismanagement and financial wrongdoing by estate trustees.
Michael Green, Lindsey's attorney, said her client went in before grand jurors just before 9 a.m. and was in there for 26 minutes.
The 26 minutes, he said, were "probably 10 minutes longer than they needed."
Her spirits were "terrific," he said. "She was in good spirits when she went in, and she was in good spirits when she came out. She was happy to cooperate."
Green, who was not allowed into the room with Lindsey so did not know what was discussed, said Lindsey would not be going back before the grand jury.
Everyone was "very very courteous," he said. Lindsey cooperated, he said -- whatever the grand jurors wanted to know, she answered whatever she knew.
Green said Lindsey was questioned by Deputy Attorney General Larry Goya.
The attorney general's office said they could make no comment on grand jury proceedings.
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