by Mufi Hannemann
About a week ago, I wrote to you about my support for Kirk Caldwell for Honolulu Mayor. Since then, many of you have let me know you were pleased to learn of my preference and thanked me for that endorsement.
Unfortunately, my endorsement of Kirk has brought out the worst in some people. Many of you have seen or heard commercials from a group called Defend Ben, that falsely accuse me of putting into place a "pay to play" system at City Hall. This term implies that City contracts were awarded in return for campaign contributions. Defend Ben claims Kirk condones this practice. None of this is true.
This is not the first time this kind of groundless allegation has been leveled at me during a campaign, nor is it the first time Ben Cayetano's name has been associated with such efforts.
In 2010, for example, Cayetano and others filed charges of contract irregularities with the Attorney General. See “Honolulu may have violated law in awarding of design contracts”. An internal review of 300 contracts and a further examination by the City Council-appointed Auditor Les Tanaka pronounced that the City had followed procurement laws. On behalf of the Attorney General, the State Procurement administrator also conducted an investigation of 86 contracts and found that the City was in full compliance with the law. Said administrator Aaron Fujioka at the time, "The SPO review of documents provided to verify compliance with the code for awards pursuant to [the law] on the procurement of professional services, did not find any violations of the code occurred in the awards."
These findings were reported in the news media, so it's befuddling that the same baseless accusations continue to surface. See: ”Procurements done properly, review finds“.
I pride myself on complying with campaign spending laws. In fact, we always meticulously review our records and return donations which do not meet the requirements of the law. In one election season, when we were notified by the Campaign Spending Commission of $80,000 in improper donations by some contributors, we turned over every last penny to the commission - one of only a handful of organizations to do so.
Bob Watada, former head of the Campaign Spending Commission, said, "The Mufi Hannemann campaign took measures to review all campaign contributions to ensure they met legal requirements. When notified by the Campaign Spending Commission of contributions improperly concealed by the donors, the Hannemann campaign organization took immediate steps to return the funds. Mufi Hannemann has a clean record with the Campaign Spending Commission."
By contrast, Ben Cayetano's gubernatorial committee received more than $540,000 in illegal donations, but was able to turn over only a fraction - $8,000 - of that amount to the commission. The facts speak for themselves.
Ben Cayetano has taken exception to ads against his candidacy, and has even filed a lawsuit, claiming the assertions have hurt his reputation and family, and he criticizes the Caldwell campaign for failing to censure the allegations. Yet, Defend Ben is now doing the same thing on behalf of Ben's candidacy, and Ben is certainly not censuring Defend Ben.
It's unfortunate that there are still those in our community who continue to press forward with these falsehoods for their self-interest and political gain. Therefore, please pass this message on to your family and friends so they, too, can know the truth and facts.
And if you haven't already done so, please don't forget to vote.
Aloha and mahalo,