Another campaign fund
violator pleads no contest

Kendall Hee says he inherited the
"covert practice" from his dad

A state judge fined a local engineer $3,000 yesterday and ordered him to conduct 90 hours of community service for making illegal political contributions to Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign.

But District Judge Lono Lee also gave Kendall Hee the opportunity to have his criminal case dismissed if he stays out of trouble for a year.

Hee, who is president of Engineers Surveyors Hawaii Inc., pleaded no contest to three counts of making excessive political donations and false-name contributions to the Harris campaign.

The charges are misdemeanors and punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine on each count.

Wendell Choy, Hee's attorney, said that his client was going along with a "covert existing practice" established by his father, who founded the company more than 34 years ago.

Choy said that Hee continued the practice after he became the company's president in 1999.

Choy noted that Hee has cooperated with the prosecutor's office in its investigation into the Harris campaign.

Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee asked that Hee be given one year of probation, but that request was rejected by the judge. Lee said that Hee's actions violated the community's fundamental right of having fair elections.

Under state law, donors can give no more than $4,000 to a mayoral candidate during a four-year election cycle. They also are barred from making the contributions under false names.

Hee is the latest local engineer to plead no contest to criminal charges of violating the state's campaign spending laws. Since January 2001 when they began their investigation into the Harris campaign, prosecutors have been able to obtain no-contest or guilty pleas from more than a dozen local residents.

A parallel investigation by the state Campaign Spending Commission has resulted in about $1 million in fines against more than 60 local firms.


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