by Andrew Walden
Documents filed with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission show that a $1000 per person March 15 campaign fundraiser for now-Honolulu Council Chair Ernie Martin held at the home of Kamehameha Schools lobbyist Linda Y Wong was organized by convicted cocaine dealer Chad Tsuneyoshi—who now serves as Martin’s campaign treasurer. Neither Wong nor Martin have replied for requests for comment, but Kekoa Paulsen, Director of Community Relations for Kamehameha Schools, was quick to distance the Trust from any involvement. In an emailed response to questions from Hawai`i Free Press, Paulsen wrote: “Linda does not do any lobbying for us at the city or city council, so maybe the event on March 15 was for another client? Or just a personal effort for Councilmember Martin?”
Wong is listed in the 2011 filings with the State Ethics Commission as a state lobbyist representing only KSBE. She is not among the lobbyists registered for 2011 with the Honolulu Ethics Commission.
In response to an inquiry from Hawai`i Free Press, Tsuneyoshi claims he is a changed man and cites his work with various community groups since his release from Federal incarceration. He declares: “I have dedicated my life to helping the youth of my state.” Tsuneyoshi is now a leading promoter of Hawaii Mixed Martial Arts exhibitions.
Tsuneyoshi was convicted in 2000 as part of a ring which prosecutors allege imported as much as one metric ton of cocaine into Hawaii from California. At ten crack cocaine rocks per gram, one metric ton (1000kg / 2200lbs) is 10 million rocks with a street value in excess of $100 million dollars. According to the US Department of Justice, 16% of persons arrested in Hawaii test positive for cocaine.
The indictment which marked the end for the cocaine ring came in December, 1997. The US Department of Justice reports, “admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities for cocaine abuse in Hawaii increased from 513 admissions in 1994 to 692 in 1996, then decreased to 476 admissions in 1998, and 364 in 2000.”
In his response, Tsuneyoshi complains: “…you can do a millions of things right and one thing wrong and people focus on the one thing you did wrong….”
Of Martin, Tsuneyoshi says:
“…he is a good person. I met him when he was working for the Department of Community Services and I could always call him or his office for any questions of concerns while I was a volunteer helping the community. Then he ran for city council I always felt he was a good family person that cares about the community so I decided to support him. I do not get any benefits from helping him….”
But contrary to Tsuneyoshi’s no-benefits claim, his wife Heidi Tsuneyoshi shows up on a list of Council staff employed by Martin. Maybe that is what Tsuneyoshi means by “a good family person.” It may also give new meaning to Martin’s campaign slogan “strong family values.” Mrs. Tsuneyoshi made a $500 contribution to Martin’s campaign on September 7, 2010.
That isn’t the only interesting name on the list of Honolulu Council staff which arrived in a Hawai`i Free Press mailbox earlier this week. Councilmember Ann Kobayashi is employing former methamphetamines addict and Broken Trust figure Milton Holt on her staff. Holt is of course infamous for using a KSBE credit card to run up five-figure bills entertaining legislators at Honolulu strip clubs and hostess bars. Now he has his fingers on the Rail budget.
Prior to Martin July 1 taking over as council chair, Kobayashi protected him from a potentially embarrassing June 21 Recreation Committee hearing which was to have aired results of a damning audit of Martin’s oversight of the Waimanalo Gulch Community Benefits program and Wahiawa assisted living and adult day care provider ORI. Post-reorganization, oversight of Community Benefits has been transferred to a committee Kobayashi chairs.
One month ago, Hawai’i Free Press exposed the audit’s findings. One week ago, we reported on Martin’s ties to Tsuneyoshi. Civil Beat noted our coverage in its July 18th edition of Inside Honolulu. Blogger Ian Lind July 22 noted that Martin’s fundraiser was held at the home of a Kamehameha Schools lobbyist.
But in Wednesday’s edition of Midweek, Inouye-connected columnist Dan Boylan penned a fluff piece suggesting that Martin may be a candidate for Mayor of Honolulu. Writes Boylan:
Martin admits that his ambition goes beyond the chairmanship of the council: “I always thought, even when Fasi was mayor, that one day I could sit in that seat. If I felt I could be effective, I could do it.”
Will he be a candidate for mayor in 2012? 2014? 2018?
“Never say never,” says Martin.
The ability to weave together $9B of Broken Trust, $100M of cocaine, and $5.5B of Rail—and keep it all out of the mainstream media--shows that Martin has the kind of political skill that Inouye’s cronies look for in a politician.
Link: May, 2011 Council Staff List