Vote winner hid loan, losing rival says


POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2008

WAILUKU » An unsuccessful Maui County Council candidate said he thinks he would have won the election if the public had known his opponent received a $100,000 business loan from a land developer.

Don Couch said he believes his opponent, Wayne Nishiki, willfully made a late filing with the county Board of Ethics, knowing he would otherwise lose the election.

“;I'm disappointed that this happened,”; Couch said.

Couch received 21,253 votes to Nishiki's 23,295 votes in the general election.

During the political campaign, Nishiki criticized Couch about receiving a $2,000 political contribution from Wailea 670 official Charles Jencks, and a newsweekly endorsed Nishiki, apparently based on the contribution, Couch said.

Nishiki was required to file a financial disclosure form with the county Board of Ethics and County Clerk's Office 15 days after filing his nomination papers on July 15.

Nishiki filed the financial disclosure papers on Oct. 16, showing he accepted a $100,000 loan for his farmers' market business from the development firm Dowling Co. in 2005, according to Board of Ethics records.

Couch said the loan was not made public until after a monthly Board of Ethics meeting, held after the general election.

Nishiki said he was not a councilmember at the time of the loan and had not intended to seek political office in the future.

Nishiki called Couch a “;crybaby”; for complaining about the election results and said Couch himself filed late.

According to ethics board records, Couch filed his nomination papers July 15 and missed the 15-day filing deadline, submitting his financial disclosure on Aug. 4.

Nishiki said he will have to disqualify himself from voting on issues related to Dowling's developments until he pays off the loan.

Nishiki said he accepted no political contributions from developers in his 2008 campaign for the Council, compared with Couch, who received a large sum.

Couch said he received $80,000 in political contributions and that about 30 percent of it came from development-related businesses.

Everett Dowling said Nishiki, who ended his term on the Council in 2004, approached him for a loan in September 2005.

“;We've had our differences, but I've always regarded Wayne as a friend,”; Dowling said.

Dowling, who is involved in development projects on Maui such as the proposed expansion of the Makena Resort, said that at the time of the loan, he did not think Nishiki would run for political office again.