Originally posted May 18, 2010. Re-posted in Oct 29, 2010 honor of Dennis Mitsunaga's $25,000 contribution to pay for Hawaii Democratic Party "coordinated campaign" attack ads. Re-posted again Feb 17, 2011 in honor of today’s revelation that Mitsunaga and Assoc. gave $30,000 to fund Abercrombie’s Inaugural Ball—the top donor. (Full list of donors >>> HERE)
by AtomicMonkey | May 18, 2010
Ben Cayetano’s proliferation of “pay to play” kickbacks was well known, and openly mocked, during his administration.
Many voters have forgotten, and many young people never knew, so it’s time for a brief history lesson. Make no mistake about it, the “good old boys” that Neil Abercrombie has already surrounded himself with during this campaign, will take us right back to the “bad old days.”
The following narrative is composed almost entirely of published news clips from early 2002 up to 2006 and documents the “pay to play” heyday of Ben Cayetano’s administration (1994-2002). It paints a very unflattering picture of the ex-governor Cayetano and his main fundraiser Dennis Mitsunaga. Both of these men are now back playing critical roles in the campaign of Neil Abercrombie, their long-time friend. There is no reason believe that their style has changed and every reason to believe that this is the type of nonsense they will help Neil Abercrombie re-establish in Hawaii.
Please read the following narrative and come to own conclusion as to the sincerity of Neil Abercrombie’s pronouncements about “no political insiders” and “no special treatment of contributors.”
2002 - THE FEDS SMELL A RAT
“U.S. officials have issued another scathing review of Hawai'i's public housing agency and its executive director, finding what it called "serious violations" of federal laws and regulations in how the agency awarded millions of dollars worth of contracts paid for by the federal government.” 10/14/02 HON. ADV.
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's findings center on two contract awards by Sharyn Miyashiro, the state agency's executive director, to companies partly owned by brothers Dennis and Dwight Mitsunaga. Dennis Mitsunaga is Miyashiro's former husband. Dwight is her former brother-in-law.” 10/14/02 HON. ADV.
“Reviewers said Miyashiro's signed statement on the contract indicating she had no ‘immediate family or business relationship with principals’ in the company ‘may not be completely accurate’." 10/14/02 HON. ADV.
THE RATS REPORT TO BEN
“Mitsunaga is a close friend and chief political fund-raiser for Gov. Ben Cayetano.” 10/14/02 ADV
“The Advertiser reported last week that crucial public records are missing from HCDCH files — including the Pacific Architects [Mitsunaga owned] contract file — and agency personnel don't know where they are or who removed them.” 10/14/02 ADV
“Although the original cost of the contract was $687,054, Miyashiro later went to the HCDCH board and received approval for additional work that raised the cost to $1,081,159.” 10/14/02 ADV
“HUD's findings are contained in an Oct. 10 letter from assistant secretary Michael Liu to Wesley Segawa, HCDCH's chairman of the board.” 10/14/02 ADV
“Segawa, a second cousin of Dennis and Dwight Mitsunaga, could not be reached for comment last week.” 10/14/02 ADV
“Miyashiro and Gov. Cayetano also were unavailable for comment.” 10/14/02 ADV
“Ronald Lim, Cayetano's special assistant for housing and a board member of HCDCH, said last week he had only just learned of Liu's letter ‘and I haven't had time to digest it.’” 10/14/02 ADV
“Wesley Segawa, chairman of the housing agency, defended Miyashiro in a letter faxed Monday to Michael Liu, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” 10/14/02 ADV
“Gov. Ben Cayetano said in July that Mitsunaga had been paying Miyashiro's home mortgage bills but the payments stopped "about two years ago" when the mortgage loan was paid off. He said he didn't think Miyashiro had a conflict of interest in awarding the contract, which went to Punaluu Builders on Sept. 22, 2000.” 10/14/02 ADV
THE RATS ARE MAKING A LOT OF MONEY
“Mitsunaga & Associates is headed by Dennis Mitsunaga, a friend of Gov. Ben Cayetano. Since 1994, Mitsunaga & Associates has received more than $8.3 million in state contracts and $3.6 million in city contracts.” 11/5/02 SB
“Mitsunaga also is at the center of a dispute between and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development and the state Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawaii, which is headed by Mitsunaga's ex-wife, Sharyn Miyashiro.” 11/5/02 S.B.
“HUD has criticized a $771,000 nonbid contract to Mitsunaga's company, Punaluu Builders Inc. and has called for the resignation of the state agency's board by Nov. 15.” 11/5/02 S.B.
BEN DEFENDS HIS RATS
“Cayetano said the report was politically motivated.” 11/5/02 S.B.
“HUD had accused former HCDCH executive director Sharon Miyashiro of mismanagement and of giving a $771,000 contract to Mitsunaga & Associates, a company owned by her ex-husband, Dennis Mitsunaga.” 12/19/02 PBN
“Former Gov. Ben Cayetano says Liu's investigation into the agency and his threat to withhold the annual $25 million in funding Hawaii receives were politically motivated actions.” 12/19/02 PBN
THE RATS GO DOWN
“Wesley Segawa, former chairman of the Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawai`i, was arrested yesterday as part of a wide-ranging criminal investigation on illegal political donations.” 7/12/03 HON. ADV.
“Segawa also agreed in May to pay the state Campaign Spending Commission a $53,500 fine for making illegal donations to several politicians, according to a signed agreement made public yesterday.” 7/12/03 HON. ADV.
“He was booked at the Honolulu Police Department’s main station on suspicion of money laundering, illegal ownership of business, making campaign donations under a false name, and an illegal business practice known as monopolization.” He was released pending further investigation. 7/12/03 HON. ADV.
THE RATS WERE BIG POLITICAL CONTRIBUTORS TO BEN
“The campaign commission found that Segawa funneled $26,275 to Mayor Jeremy Harris, $21,950 to former Gov. Ben Cayetano,” 7/12/03 HON. ADV.
“HCDCH was also told to refund $771,000, the amount of sole-source contract that HUD said was improperly awarded by former HCDCH executive director Sharyn Miyashiro to a company partly owned by her ex-husband, Dennis Mitsunaga.” 7/12/03 HON. ADV.
“Mitsunaga was a major campaign fund-raiser for Harris, Cayetano and others, and is Segawa’s second cousin.” 7/12/03 HON. ADV.
“Hawaii's powerful Democrat elected officials, in power for 40 consecutive years, have traditionally had their political campaigns funded by supporters who in return receive lucrative government contracts or zoning, permitting and other benefits for their businesses from those government officials.” 10/2003 SMALL BUS. HI.
“Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano fed this cycle by authorizing billions of dollars from taxpayers be directed to public construction projects, bid and non-bid,”10/2003 SMALL BUS. HI.
THE CONTRIBUTIONS ARE DECLARED ILLEGAL
“The consulting projects implemented to launch the BRT are being awarded to many companies recently in the news for making excessive and illegal contributions to the mayor and other prominent Democrats such as former Gov. Cayetano,” 10/2003 SMALL BUS. HI.
“Mitsunaga & Associates Inc. is owned by Dennis Mitsunaga, an individual under investigation by the federal government for more than a year and a half for a variety of illegalities including misusing federal construction funds provided to the state. Known as one of the most powerful political people in Hawaii, including a fundraiser for many high-profile Democrat candidates, Mitsunaga had to repay the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development more than $700,000 the agency considered was used inappropriately. Mitsunaga, still under investigation by the federal government, has a variety of companies. The one with his namesake received up to $399,995 so far on the BRT project, though the exact amount is not disclosed by the city.” 10/2003 SMALL BUS. HI.
“The commission recently subpoenaed Mitsunaga & Associates Inc. executive Terri Ann Otani for an interview last week, according to people familiar with the state probe.” 10/2003 SMALL BUS. HI.
“But Otani declined to appear, citing her constitutional right against self-incrimination.” 11/5/02 S.B.
“Randal Lee declined to discuss his investigation into Dennis Mitsunaga yesterday, but Bob Watada, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, said several government contractors interviewed by his office have indicated that they were solicited by him for campaign contributions”.... 10/02/04 S.B.
“Mitsunaga employee called for grand jury” 04/08/05 S.B.
“Investigators say the worker directed firms' contributions to campaign coffers” 04/08/05 S.B.
INVESTIGATION FOCUSES ON BEN’S MAIN RAT
“City prosecutors have convened a new grand jury that will focus on the activities of Dennis Mitsunaga, a key Democratic Party fund-raiser and ally of former Gov. Ben Cayetano.” 04/08/05 S.B.
“Mitsunaga, who heads the engineering firm, is a major target of prosecutors' three-year investigation into the campaign of former Mayor Jeremy Harris. The employee, Terri Otani, is listed on state business records as secretary, treasurer and director of Mitsunaga & Associates.” 04/08/05 S.B.
“Campaign investigators have alleged that Otani helped direct tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from dozens of local engineering firms and architects to the campaigns of Harris, Cayetano, ex-Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana and other prominent Democrats.” 04/08/05 S.B.
“Mitsunaga has served as fund-raiser for those campaigns.”... 04/08/05 S.B.
“Otani is the latest member of Mitsunaga's circle to face a criminal investigation.” 04/08/05 S.B.
“Mitsunaga's brother Dwight pleaded no contest in October to misdemeanor charges of exceeding campaign spending limits and making a political donation under a false name to the Harris campaign.” 04/08/05 S.B.
“Mitsunaga's cousin, former Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawaii Chairman Wesley Segawa, also pleaded no contest to money laundering and making illegal contributions to the Harris campaign last December.” 04/08/05 S.B.
BEN IS ORDERED TO REPAY THE ILLEGAL CONTRIBUTIONS
“Benjamin Cayetano, governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002, taped a feisty 30-minute interview last week for PBS’ Island Insights.” 11/10/05 HI REP.
“The former governor, known for his gruff manner and preponderance for insulting those around him” 11/10/05 HI REP.
“The person Cayetano most blames for the Democrats losing the governor’s seat in 2002 is former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris. Harris’ campaign spending troubles and subsequent publicity surrounding the investigation by the state Campaign Spending Commission, the city prosecutor and the federal government into his campaign fundraising practices, discouraged him from entering the race.” 11/10/05 HI REP.
“Why wasn’t Cayetano investigated by the state Campaign Spending Commission as Harris was when Cayetano had many of the same contributors fined for giving illegal campaign contributions to him as well as Harris? Cayetano told Midweek’s Dan Boylan during his Island Insights interview that he returned all the illegal contributions that the state Campaign Spending Commission found, while Harris did not and still has not.” 11/10/05 HI REP.
REPORT SAYS CAYETANO DIDN’T PAY
“(Hawaii Reporter took Cayetano up on his challenge and checked his public record, which shows Cayetano has not in fact paid back what he was told to. He still must pay the Hawaii Election Fund an estimated $487,650. The total he was ordered to pay was $496,305 for illegal contributions he accepted, and so far he paid $8,655.65. The commissioners are determining whether they should pursue litigation against Cayetano and three other politicians who owe a collective $1.6 million.)” 11/10/05 HI REP.
“A review of the Campaign Spending Commission letters sent to the campaign of Gov. Benjamin Cayetano -- about the $487,000 he must pay to the Hawaii Election Commission -- shows they were mailed to the former governor's campaign treasurer.”11/12/05 HI REP.
“Former Democrat Gubernatorial candidate Mazie Hirono’s campaign committee may never pay over $98,000 in unpaid assessments for illegal campaign contributions says the Executive Director of the State Campaign Spending Commission, Barbara Wong.” 10/11/06 HI FREE PRESS
“Hirono is not the only politician with unpaid assessments.” 10/11/06 HI FREE PRESS
“Hirono’s former boss, Gov. Ben Cayetano’s committee is reported to owe as much as $487,650.” 10/11/06 HI FREE PRESS
“These illegal contributions to Hirono and the others came as part of Hawaii’s “Pay to Play” scandal. About 100 corporations, many with multi-million dollar state road-building contracts, made illegal excessive or false-name contributions to Democrat Machine politicians’ campaign committees in exchange for favorable treatment in contracting.” 10/11/06 HI FREE PRESS
“The Democrat-controlled Legislature responded by raiding the state’s “special funds” to fund lucrative construction contracts for their contributors. The scheme, which heavily involved the Cayetano/Hirono administration, fell apart after Hirono lost the 2002 gubernatorial race. Investigations by former state Campaign Spending Commissioner Bob Watada, who retired Oct. 31, 2005, revealed the massive scandal resulting in fines against the corporations involved in the scheme and assessments demanding repayment of the illegal contributions from the candidate committees who received them.” 10/11/06 HI FREE PRESS
“When asked about her role in the Pay to Play scandal, Hirono’s campaign manager Julie Stauch indicated she had never heard of it, saying, “What’s that?” 10/11/06 HI FREE PRESS
BE FORWARNED: BEN CAYETANO IS NOW NEIL ABERCROMBIE’S CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST AND HIS MAIN RAT, DENNIS MITSUNAGA, IS ABERCROMBIE’S CHIEF FUNDRAISER.