Harris donor is fined
for illegal contribution

The local architect must also
complete 50 hours of service

A state judge has ordered a local architect to pay $1,000 for making an illegal political contribution to Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins also ordered Kurt Mitchell, chief executive officer of Kober Hanssen Mitchell Architects, to conduct 50 hours of community service after Mitchell pleaded no contest yesterday to a misdemeanor charge of making a campaign donation under a false name.

Perkins granted Mitchell's request for a deferral, saying the architect is not likely to engage in future criminal acts. The deferral gives Mitchell the opportunity to get his criminal case dismissed if he stays out of trouble for a year.

Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee argued for probation, saying Mitchell's actions undermined the electoral process.

According to Lee, Mitchell instructed two former employees to give $1,000 each to the Harris campaign and then told them that he would reimburse them in their year-end bonus. Lee said the amounts of the employees' bonuses were larger than usual as a result of the campaign donation.

Mitchell, 50, was indicted by an Oahu grand jury in August on two counts of making a false-name political contribution, but prosecutors agreed to drop one of the counts.

Mitchell told the court that the criminal case has greatly affected him and that he will look more carefully in the future when people ask him to contribute.

Dale Lee, Mitchell's attorney, said his client's no-contest plea does not mean he is admitting guilt to the charges. But it does mean that the architect is accepting responsibility for the case, he said.

Dale Lee said one of the grand jury witnesses whose testimony was crucial to the indictment previously provided information that was favorable to Mitchell. He added that all Kober Hanssen employees -- and not just the political donors -- were given year-end bonuses by the company.

Under state law, donors are barred from making political donations under false names.

Kober Hanssen, which traces its corporate roots to 1935, is one of the state's largest architecture firms.

The city has awarded the firm nearly $5 million in nonbid city jobs since 1987, including a $2.9 million contract to design the Kapolei Hale satellite office building.

Harris' attorneys have denied any link between political contributions and the awarding of city contracts.

Campaign Spending Commission

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com