Matsumoto gets 2 years
to pay record $303,000 fine

A local engineer will likely have more than two years to pay a record $303,000 fine from the state Campaign Spending Commission.

The commission voted 3-0 yesterday to approve an agreement with SSFM International Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Matsumoto, who allegedly laundered more than $400,000 in illegal campaign funds to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, ex-Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana and other isle Democrats.

Bob Watada, the commission's executive director, said donors can get up to two years to pay a fine, but said the commission may have to extend Matsumoto's time due to the size of the fine.

"We don't want to run him into personal bankruptcy," Watada said.

Matsumoto agreed to the fine without admitting or denying the claim. He previously pleaded no contest to a criminal charge of laundering nearly $140,000 in political donations to the Harris campaign.

In the agreement, the commission alleged that Matsumoto gave $212,000 under false names to the Harris campaign between 1996 and 2001. The commission also alleged Matsumoto made $100,500 in false-name contributions to Cayetano's campaign and $30,500 in illegal donations to the Apana campaign.

In a related matter, the commission voted 3-0 to approve a $48,000 fine against the engineering firm of Wilson Okamoto & Associates Inc. and a $3,500 fine against local attorney Edward Chun.

The commission alleged that Wilson Okamoto gave $29,500 in false-name contributions to the Harris campaign and $22,800 in false-name contributions to Cayetano.

Chun, who recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the state campaign spending law, admitted that he advised employees of Food Pantry Inc. to give $9,000 illegally to the Harris campaign in 1996 and 2000. Food Pantry later improperly reimbursed the workers at Chun's advice. Chun is a founding partner of the law firm Chun Kerr Dodd Beaman & Wong.

Under state law, donors are barred from making political donations under false names. They also are prohibited from giving more than $4,000 to a mayoral candidate and $6,000 to a gubernatorial candidate during a four-year election period.

With the approval of yesterday's fines, the commission has levied more than $1 million in penalties against more than 60 local companies during the past two years.


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