Cayetano Threatens Lawsuit over Mention of Pay-to-Play Allegations
by Andrew Walden
In the midst of the mayoral debate, Pacific Resources Partnership last night released a 10 page ‘fact sheet’ detailing Ben Cayetano’s Pay-to-Play Fines stemming from his 1998 Gubernatorial reelection Campaign. PRP presents the text as if it were directly quoted from media sources, but material attributed to Hawai`i Free Press in PRP’s “Fact Sheet” is not a direct quote from any Hawai`i Free Press article.
PRP links to an HFP article titled: “Pay to Play Fines Unpaid: Hirono for Governor Campaign Closes Owing State Elections Fund Over $98,000” which includes information about Pay-for-Play fines levied against Cayetano’s gubernatorial campaign but does not contain the text which PRP apparently portrays as coming from the article.
Meanwhile, in comments posted on Facebook, Governor Cayetano is threatening to sue PRP for alleging that Cayetano ‘knowingly’ accepted over $500,000 in illegal campaign contributions collected by his campaign in 1998. Cayetano does not dispute that the contributions were accepted, nor does he dispute that most of the fines levied by the Campaign Spending Commission went unpaid.
Here is the item as presented in PRP’s ‘Fact Sheet’:
FACT: CAYETANO USED LOOPHOLE TO AVOID REPAYING MONEY OWED
The Campaign Spending Commission had little recourse to recoup the rest of the illegal contributions from Cayetano and other politicians involved in the pay to play scandal, because the scandal plagued politicians either spent their campaign committee money already or shuttered those committees altogether. Because state law does not allow the Campaign Spending Commission to pursue money owed by dissolved committees, Cayetano was not obligated to repay the remaining balance. A loophole in the law also prevents a new campaign committee from being responsible for the assessments levied against a previous campaign committee. We should be receiving documents soon that we requested from the Campaign Spending Commission detailing correspondence about his illegal contributions. (Hawaii Free Press, Dec. 9, 2011)
Here are Cayetano’s comments posted from his Facebook page and directed in response to an article published on Civil Beat:
I want to thank Civil Beat for digging into the real facts of PRP’s push poll and, in particular, for discussing the matter with Hawaii spending commission General counsel Gary Kam. As Mr. Kam pointed out “Someone is penalized that that’s the contributor who made the false-name contribution, because they knew.” During my 1998 campaign for reelection, our supporters raised more than $5 million in campaign contributions. I did not handle fund raising, there was a committee of several supporters that did the work.
John White’s so-called internal poll is in fact a Push poll because he makes a quantum leap in assuming I or anyone in my campaign knew about the false name contributions. We did not and I challenge John White to prove otherwise. In fact, when we did find false name contributions we reported it to the Campaign spending Commission and returned the money. Former CSC Chairman Bob Watada knows this.
After I retired, someone from the Commission informed me (I don’t remember if it was in writing or by telephone) about the false name contributions that the Commission discovered. I called Bob Watada, who was the Chairman of the Commission back then, and informed him that there was no way the funds could be returned because it had already been spent for the campaign. He instructed us to just return what we had in the campaign account which was minimal and we did. He also explained as Mr. Kam pointed out to Civil Beat that it is the contributor who is penalized not the unknowing candidate.
I note that John white declined to reveal the questions asked in PRP’s internal poll. That is understandable because we know that it includes other scurrilous and false claims. John White’s problem is he has a big mouth and speaks freely to others about PRP’s plan to defeat me. In fact, we know that White informed Cha Thompson Peter Carlisle’s campaign chairperson of his plan to run a smear campaign against me. Thompson briefed a group of Carlisle’s supporters about what White had told her. One of the Carlisle supporters was shocked by what he was hearing and informed one of my campaign chairpersons about what he had heard. Let me make clear that I have no proof that Peter Carlisle’s campaign is involved with White’s efforts to smear me nor do I believe that Carlisle himself would resort to such tactics. However, we do know that Thompson discussed the matter with a group of Carlisle’s supporters.
White insists he is being fair about my record. Far from it, the key question is whether I or anyone knew that our campaign received illegal false name contributions. So Civil Beat should ask White to prove that I knew or others in my campaign knew about those contributions. White should give the names of those who supposedly knew and make available to the news media all of the questions used in PRP’s push poll.
John White and PRP have just bought themselves a lawsuit.
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CB: Pro-Rail Union Group Ups Ante Against Cayetano
FULL TEXT: PRP ‘Fact Sheet’
HFP: Pay to Play Fines Unpaid: Hirono for Governor Campaign Closes Owing State Elections Fund Over $98,000