Election panel
widens probe

Subpoenas will be issued
to employees of a firm linked
to $100,000 in donations

By Rick Daysog

The state Campaign Spending Commission's investigation into illegal campaign contributions is now targeting local contractor Park Engineering, which is linked to more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to Mayor Jeremy Harris and Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Bob Watada, the commission's executive director, said yesterday his office is issuing five subpoenas for testimony of Park Engineering employees.

Watada said the commission is attempting to find out whether the company organized the contributions and reimbursed their workers.

"They seem to fit that same pattern where contributions are made by families and friends of the company," Watada said.

Larry Matsuo, the firm's chief executive officer, declined comment, saying he has not seen the subpoenas.

Since 1996, Park Engineering's employees and their relatives have made more than 75 political contributions worth more than $118,000 to Cayetano, Harris, Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana and Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle, according to a computer-assisted study by the Star-Bulletin.

Harris netted $80,250 of the total, while Cayetano's campaign received $26,500. Apana took in $9,000, while Lingle received $3,200.

Under state law, a donor can give no more than $4,000 to a mayoral candidate during a four-year election cycle. The limit for a gubernatorial race is $6,000 per donor.

Founded in 1958, Park Engineering is one of the state's largest engineering firms with annual revenues of about $6 million, according to Hawaii Business magazine. Since 1996 the City and County of Honolulu has awarded the company more than $5.5 million in nonbid work, including a $1.5 million contract to help build sewer facilities in Kalihi Valley and a $300,000 engineering contract for the Ted Makalena Golf Course.

The firm recently did landscaping work along Farrington Highway for the state Department of Transportation.

The commission's investigation into Park Engineering comes after a state judge upheld the commission's right to subpoena bank records and employee testimony from local political donors.

Workers at Park Engineering and SSFM International Inc. recently filed motions to quash subpoenas issued by the commission, but Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario denied them last week.

Watada's comments were made after the Campaign Spending Commission held its monthly meeting yesterday.

At that meeting, the panel's five-member board approved fines totaling $3,000 against five local companies that gave excessive contributions to Harris' 2000 re-election campaign.

The firms were Group Builders Inc., Hecker Design Ltd., Austin Tsutsumi & Associates Inc., Toft Wolff Farrow Inc. and Kodama/Okamoto Architects Inc.

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --