Dems urge resolution
of spending complaint

Isle Democrats are calling for a speedy investigation into a campaign spending complaint against GOP congressional candidate Dalton Tanonaka, who says the matter is a smear campaign orchestrated by his opponent.

"There's no question in my mind that my opponent was behind this, Neil Abercrombie. And let me tell you why: He can't run on his record," Tanonaka said yesterday.

Abercrombie campaign spokeswoman Cindy Quinn said the Democratic congressman had nothing to do with the complaint.

"Absolutely not," she said. "We learned about it in the news."

Ed Nishioka, campaign manager of Tanonaka's failed bid for lieutenant governor two years ago, filed the complaint with the Campaign Spending Commission on Friday. He accuses Tanonaka of circumventing state law, which limits loans to political campaigns for the 2002 election.

Tanonaka, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie in the 1st Congressional District (Urban Honolulu), said the complaint is without merit and was filed by "a disgruntled former campaign staff worker with an ax to grind." He also noted the timing, five weeks before the election.

Nishioka filed a suit against Tanonaka in April claiming he is owed $40,000 for work performed during the 2002 campaign.

The campaign spending complaint alleges Tanonaka hid loans to his campaign to circumvent legal limits. The complaint, citing bank records, notes a $48,000 deposit made to Tanonaka's personal bank account in June 2002 on the same day he made a $45,000 loan to his campaign. The complaint does not list the sources for the deposit.

State law prohibits candidates from accepting personal loans from people and then loaning that money to their campaign.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Chairman Brickwood Galuteria called for a quick resolution.

"The voters deserve answers to this serious matter so that they can do what they do best, and that's vote, with all of the necessary information they need in order to make a qualified vote," Galuteria said.

Democratic state Sens. Melodie Aduja and Cal Kawamoto lost bids for re-election in this month's primary election after they were fined for state campaign spending violations.

The complaint is on the agenda of the commission's Oct. 13 meeting. Executive Director Bob Watada said the only resolution possible before the election is a dismissal of the complaint. Otherwise, the case would not be resolved before the Nov. 2 election, he said.

Campaign Spending Commission


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