WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the last few weeks, Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa‘s deputy chief of staff has sent emails to campaign staff and potential political donors that could violate federal campaign finance laws.

One email was first reported by the Washington Post on Saturday and a second was provided to Civil Beat by a source.

Taken together, they raise questions about whether Hanabusa’s publicly paid congressional aide has been conducting improper activities for her political campaign. She is in what is shaping up to be a tight race against Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz in the 2014 Democratic primary.

The aide, Hanabusa’s deputy chief of staff Chris Raymond, sent an email to the staff of other members of Congress asking for donations and help in promoting a June 26 fundraiser for Hanabusa, according to a copy of the message that was provided to Civil Beat.

“My boss is having a members-only event at her house on June 26th to support her Senate campaign and I wanted to extend the invitation to your boss,” Raymond said in the message. “Right now we are looking for members to lend their name to the invitation even if they do not plan on attending. Do you think your boss would be willing to lend their name?”

There was also a money plea. “We are asking if members might be willing to donate at least $1k to her Senate race,” the email said. It goes on to cite an unpublished Hanabusa poll that her campaign has said showed her with a large lead.

The email noted that while Hanabusa was trying to decide between a run for U.S. Senate against Schatz or a run for governor against Gov. Neil Abercrombie, “we were out raised by 4 to 1($250k to $1.1mill). Any help would be a big help.”

House ethics rules allow congressional staffers to engage in campaign activity on their own time, as long as there is no use of public equipment or resources. Raymond’s email appears to have been sent during normal business hours.

That, in itself, does not indicate a violation. Staffers including Schatz’ chief of staff Andy Winer and former Hanabusa campaign spokesman Richard Rapoza – who is also her longtime congressional communications aide – have at times switched between campaign and congressional work. They alternate between personal and official campaign email accounts, and sometimes take leaves of absence from their congressional jobs. Winer explained on Sunday that he keeps a log in which he tracks his own work.

Hanabusa’s campaign was unable to provide documentation on Sunday that clarified whether Raymond sent the email on his own time or not. But Hanabusa’s chief of staff, Rod Tanonaka, did release a statement through the campaign saying that Raymond will continue his congressional work, “but will not be involved in any campaign related activities.”

Tanonaka also noted that shortly after entering the Senate race, ethics committee staff briefed Hanabusa’s congressional staff about the rules limiting their political activities, upon the representative’s request. “Each Congressional office sets its own vacation and leave guidelines and the Congresswoman’s staff follows those procedures,” he said.

The second email surfaced after the Washington Post reported on Saturday about an email from Raymond, also sent from his personal account. That message suggested that Hanabusa’s staff was involved in coordinating an independent expenditure campaign on her behalf by the pharmaceutical lobby group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). It is illegal for a campaign to coordinate with an outside group that is independently running ads or engaging in other activities to support a candidate.

The Post reported that Raymond emailed Tanonaka, Hanabusa campaign senior adviser Jennifer Sabas and campaign spokesman Peter Boylan on June 28, and that he appeared to be facilitating coordination between the pharmaceutical lobby and Colleen Hanabusa’s campaign.

“As I’m sure you have heard, PhRMA has committed to pulling together an independent expenditure on CH’s behalf,” he wrote in the message, according to the Post. “…Nick Shipley (Government Relations VP) and Bob Phillipone (Senior VP) are the leads on this and would like to be put in touch with folks on the campaign.”

“After having talked with Nick about this a little more, and based on our discussion, I came to the conclusion that,” he wrote, it is “the three of you … he would like to be in touch with. I am going to give him your email address so he can be in touch. I didn’t feel comfortable giving out your phone numbers.”

Representatives of both Hanabusa’s campaign and the industry group told the Post there had been preliminary discussions about a fundraiser on Hanabusa’s behalf, but denied that there had been coordinated discussions about an independent expenditure campaign. Raymond did not return calls to the Post.

Instead, Boylan told the Post that Raymond had misunderstood the kind of assistance that outside interests could give. “He made inaccurate assumptions about the type of help PhRMA could provide the campaign,” Boylan reportedly said.

However, Raymond is a Capitol Hill veteran who has held various positions for both public officials and private interest groups for more than a decade.

According to his LinkedIn page, Raymond has been Hanabusa’s deputy chief of staff since February 2011. Prior to that, he was vice president of political affairs for the National Restaurant Association for two years and vice president of political affairs for the National Council of Higher Education Loan Resources from March 2007 to April 2009. He also worked the previous seven years in various congressional offices, including a 10-month stint as chief of staff for former Rep. Joe Sestak, a Pennsylvania Democrat.

Schatz campaign manager Clay Schroers noted Sunday night that Raymond is a former registered lobbyist and currently a Hanabusa senior Washington, D.C. staffer. It was “disturbingly clear in his email that he had discussed an improper independent expenditure by PhRMA on behalf of Rep. Hanabusa,” Schroers said via email. “At no point did he appear ‘misinformed’ about the actions that he was taking on behalf of Rep. Hanabusa.”

The PhRMA email comes amid a debate over a proposal to require drug companies to pay a rebate to the federal government for providing their medications through Medicare.

Schatz supports the measure, in part, as a way to reduce the national budget deficit.

Pharmaceutical companies oppose the measure. Hanabusa is also on record against it, saying that any rebate paid by drug companies would be passed on to consumers. She voiced her opposition during a May 23 conference call organized by the Healthcare Leadership Council, a national organization made up of hospitals, health plans, medical device manufacturers, biotech firms, academic health centers, and pharmaceutical companies.

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