Senator fined for
campaign violations

The penalty against
Cal Kawamoto is the
second largest ever

State Sen. Cal Kawamoto has agreed to pay the state Campaign Spending Commission $21,250 to settle an investigation into his political campaign.

State Sen. Cal Kawamoto

The fine is the second largest issued by the 26-year-old state agency, next to the $40,000 levied against convicted former City Councilwoman Rene Mansho in 2001.

It is also in addition to $30,000 in questionable expenditures -- outlined in a Star-Bulletin article earlier this year -- that Kawamoto repaid his campaign.

Bob Watada, the commission's executive director, said commission investigators found a pattern of sloppy bookkeeping. But he said they did not find an intentional violation that warrants a criminal case.

The fine requires the approval of the commission's five-member board, which will meet on Wednesday.

Kawamoto (D, Waipahu) released a statement through his attorney, Bert Kobayashi Jr., in which he said he believes that the settlement addresses his campaign's past problems.

Kawamoto agreed to pay $14,800 of the $21,250 fine with his own personal funds. The remaining $6,450 will be paid by his campaign committee.

"I appreciate the help of the commission and its staff in allowing us to correct and to amend our filings and to take the necessary actions to address the omissions of myself and my campaign committee," Kawamoto said.

In a four-page conciliation agreement released yesterday, commission investigators alleged that Kawamoto failed to report nearly $29,000 in political donations that were made to his campaign committee between 1995 and 2003.

Investigators alleged that Kawamoto spent more than $4,100 in campaign money for personal use, and questioned more than 114 campaign expenditures totaling $26,400 that went to the use and upkeep of his personal car.

The commission's findings echo Star-Bulletin investigations into Kawamoto's political campaign. In June 2003 the Star-Bulletin found that Kawamoto had failed to report dozens of political contributions totaling more than $20,000, in apparent violation of state campaign disclosure requirements.

A follow-up investigation by the Star-Bulletin in February found that Kawamoto had spent more than $21,000 to fix, insure and gas up a Dodge 1992 van.

The investigation also found that Kawamoto spent nearly $200 in campaign funds to pay for traffic and parking citations, and another $511 to settle a 2000 traffic claim by a Waianae resident.

State laws forbids political candidates from using campaign money to pay for traffic tickets, parking citations and legal settlements arising from traffic accidents.

Candidates can only use campaign money to purchase a car so long as the car is used for campaigning and is registered to the campaign committee.

Personal use of that car must be reimbursed, and candidates are required to keep a detailed mileage log for personal and campaign-related travel.

Kawamoto, who is up for re-election this year, is a frequent critic of the commission and Watada. Earlier this year, Kawamoto, chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Transportation, Military Affairs and Government Operations, introduced legislation that would have given the Senate the power to hire and fire the commission's executive director and audit its finances.

Public outcry prompted the Senate to shelve the proposals.

Campaign Spending Commission


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