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Tuesday, May 2, 2000

House committee turns
down request to fund
campaign finance probe

The Campaign Spending Commission
is looking into allegations
against Kamehameha Schools

By Rick Daysog


The Legislature has turned down a request by the state Campaign Spending Commission for $150,000 in additional funds to investigate alleged campaign finance abuse by the Kamehameha Schools and its outside vendors.

Legislature 2000 A House conference committee on the state budget eliminated the commission's request last week after its Senate counterpart approved the additional funds, which would have gone toward hiring investigators for the commission's inquiry.

Bob Watada, the commission's executive director, said the House's decision may make the commission's job more difficult but that it will not curtail the investigation.

The development comes as the commission may be targeting several influential members of the state House and Senate.

In a 20-page report to the commission, the attorney general's office said the Kamehameha Schools directed tens of thousands of dollars to the coffers of isle politicians, drafted bills and floor speeches for key state legislators and entertained scores of state and county lawmakers at isle restaurants.

Between 1992 and 1997, the $6 billion trust treated former House Speaker Joe Souki (D, Maalaea) to 65 meals and current Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo Valley) to 38 meals, the attorney general's office said.

The attorney general's criminal team delivered its report on the Kamehameha Schools' political activities to the commission, which will conduct an investigation into possible violations of state campaign finance laws.

The requested funds are in addition to the commission's $399,000 annual budget and would have come from the Hawaii Campaign Election Fund.

Say said today that he was not involved in the budget negotiations, but he noted that the funding request did not go through Budget and Finance Department, which is the normal procedure.

Say added that the commission's request did not specify what the investigators would be used for.

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