by Andrew Walden
‘Director of Communications’ Jessie Broder Van Dyke hung up on this reporter when asked, and Harry Mattson did not return a message left on his cell phone Friday, but two sources within Honolulu Hale have confirmed that Mayor Kirk Caldwell has secretly appointed Mattson as ‘Chief of Staff’. The receptionist at Mayor Caldwell’s office confirmed Mattson is working there as ‘Chief of Staff’ and took a message for him which was not returned by press time.
UPDATE Feb 5: Secret Donors fund Secret high-level assistant for mayor
UPDATE Feb 6: Caldwell's Secret group to disclose its Secret donors
There has been no public announcement of Mattson’s appointment. ‘Chief of Staff’ is a position which has not previously existed within City administration. Caldwell December 29, 2012 appointed Ember Shinn Managing Director and announced numerous other top appointments. There was no mention of a ‘Chief of Staff’ in Caldwell’s December announcement nor in an earlier solicitation of job applications for Caldwell’s ‘City Team.’
Mugshot: Harry Mattson
Akamai readers will remember Mattson was required to testify before a Grand Jury in 2002 about $300,000 allegedly paid by his political consulting firm to former Miss Maui, Lisa-Katharine Otsuka. The Star-Bulletin October 31, 2002 reports,
City prosecutors are attempting to trace more than $300,000 that was paid to a former Maui beauty queen by a former consultant to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' political campaign.
Witnesses contacted by Prosecutor Peter Carlisle's office told the Star-Bulletin that investigators have asked about dozens of transactions over a two-year period between Lisa-Katharine Otsuka and a company headed by local public relations and polling executive Harry Mattson.
More than $75,000, or about one-fourth of the money, originated from Harris' 2000 re-election campaign, as was previously reported by the Star-Bulletin.
But a majority of the money appears to be unrelated to the Harris campaign and may have originated from local business and political sources whose names were not disclosed, witnesses said….
Prosecutors are focusing on money sent to Otsuka's account from Campaign Service Inc., a local polling and public relations firm headed by Mattson and (Norma) Wong, a former state representative.
Mattson and Wong are longtime supporters of former Gov. John Waihee and have worked on Harris' political campaign….
Several witnesses said that Otsuka worked for Mattson during the 2002 state Democratic Party Convention at the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel, where she helped provide catering services for a hospitality room….
According to Mattson, the $75,000 was his own personal funds that he invested with Otsuka, whom he believed at the time to be a successful entrepreneur….
A nonprofit organization headed by Otsuka, Aloha Honor Scholars Foundation, also listed the same Nuuanu Avenue address as Mattson's company.
A 1987 graduate of Baldwin High School, the 32-year-old Otsuka is a former Miss Maui who was stripped of the title over a dispute about her school transcripts.
In September, Otsuka was arrested for contempt of court after she failed to appear before the grand jury investigating the Harris campaign. That same month, she was indicted for allegedly stealing $3,000 that a Wahiawa nonprofit group raised for at-risk youths.
As Otsuka finally heads to trial in 2007, Hawaii Reporter explains:
…on August 15, 2002, Otsuka was arrested at the Aston Waikiki Grand hotel for allegedly promoting prostitution in the second degree, which according to Hawaii law, means acting as a madam in a prostitution house. That day, she also was arrested on charges of money laundering, illegal ownership of a business and making a false statement. She posted $10,000 bail. Otsuka has never been charged in this case….
Harris, some of his cabinet members, his campaign and more than 100 private engineering and architecture firms with city contracts, were under investigation for 4 years from 2000 to 2004 for an alleged “pay to play” scheme. These 100 firms paid fines after the state Campaign Spending Commission proved they collectively laundered an estimated $1.5 million in illegal campaign contributions to the Harris campaign. The Honolulu City Prosecutor also opened an investigation into some of the more egregious offenders, prosecuting the principals on charges of money laundering and making illegal campaign contributions.
According to law enforcement sources, when Harris launched his campaign for governor in 2000, his campaign paid several thousand dollars to Campaign Service Inc., a company owned by political strategists Harry Mattson and Norma Wong.
Mattson, a loyal strategist and political pollster for some of Hawaii's most powerful Democrat politicians including former Gov. John Waihee, Honolulu Councilmember Duke Bainum, 2002 Candidate for Governor Andy Anderson and Harris, was hired by the Harris campaign for "services rendered," according to public state campaign spending records. As much as $300,000 of this campaign money was reportedly directed to Otsuka. Otsuka and her company, the Aloha Honor Scholars Foundation, shared an office address with Mattson & Co.
Harris abruptly abandoned his Gubernatorial campaign May 30, 2002, leaving the Democratic Primary to be won by Mazie Hirono who would then lose to Linda Lingle in the General Election.
After years of jurisprudence, in February, 2010, Otsuka beat the rap on every charge. She has no criminal convictions listed on the State of Hawaii ‘ecrim’ database.
But the same cannot be said for Mattson. According to his rap sheet, he was arrested July 18, 2005 on five counts of “Willful Failure to File” (HRS231-35). As is traditional with politically influential criminals, Mattson was given a ‘Deferred Acceptance’ plea. But he did not meet the requirements of the plea and was ultimately found guilty on all five counts October 19, 2007. His rap sheet further elucidates:
“On 05/13/2010 subject was re-sentenced to … $50 crim inj comp fee, 200 hours community service, 30 days confinement, $1800 fine, 1 year probation and $63,834 restitution.”
There is more.
Mattson's records at Honolulu District Court show his most recent court hearing as July 13, 2012. Prosecutors had requested that Mattson’s probation be revoked, noting that he had still outstanding fines and restitution owed. The Judge denied the motion to revoke. (Case Nos 1P105-4455, 6, 7, 8, 9)
It is likely fortunate for Caldwell that Mattson was not thrown back into jail in July—just as the primary election season was getting red hot. According to Caldwell campaign web-postings, Mattson served as Caldwell’s “Chief Strategist.” Photos show Mattson twice speaking to Caldwell campaign volunteers at a Laborers Union hall. And in an extensive post-election Star-Advertiser interview, Mattson details the strategy by which he defeated anti-Rail candidate, former Governor Ben Cayetano.