Harris donors
to face grand jury

Dozens of subpoenas are issued
for the probe into the mayor's
2000 re-election campaign

The decision to convene a grand jury Sept. 5
comes after a 7-month investigation

By Rick Daysog

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle will convene a grand jury next month to investigate political contributions from city contractors to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' 2000 re-election campaign.

The 13-member panel began issuing dozens of subpoenas today to city officials, Harris campaign officers, architects and subcontractors who worked on several city projects, according to those who received subpoenas this morning.

The grand jury hearing is set for Sept. 5 at state Circuit Court.

Harris -- who had been the Democratic front-runner for this year's governor's race before he dropped out on May 30 -- was not available for comment.

In the past, the mayor has denied wrongdoing.

Harris' attorney William McCorriston said the prosecutor's office issued subpoenas for an investigative grand jury to help them complete their probe.

McCorriston said he understands that the prosecutors have not targeted a particular individual for criminal charges.

City Corporation Counsel David Arakawa declined comment this morning. The prosecutor's office would not confirm or deny the grand jury proceedings.

The decision to impanel a grand jury follows seven months of investigation by the prosecutor's office and the Honolulu Police Department's white-collar criminal division.

HPD officers last month arrested Mike Amii, director of the city Community Services Department and longtime Democratic Party organizer, for allegedly conducting campaign work on city time.

Amii, who was not charged, has denied wrongdoing.

The prosecutor's office opened its investigation after the state Campaign Spending Commission in January referred a complaint to the law enforcement for a criminal investigation. The complaint said the Harris campaign allegedly booked campaign donations under false names.

Carlisle's investigation comes as the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, are taking a close look at city contractors on federally funded city projects.

In June, a federal grand jury heard testimony from the engineering firm of SSFM International, which donated more than $200,000 to the campaigns of Harris, Gov. Ben Cayetano and Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana.

SSFM, a major state and city contractor, has not been indicted and the firm has denied wrongdoing.

The grand jury proceedings represents the latest obstacle in an already rocky year for the mayor.

In addition to various investigations by state, city and federal law enforcement authorities, a state judged ruled earlier this year that he should have stepped down as mayor last year when he filed papers to run for governor with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Although the state Supreme Court reversed the decision, the six months of negative publicity prompted Harris pulled out of the governor's race on May 30.

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