Opponents of a controversial 11,750-home community planned in West Oahu want the Honolulu Ethics Commission to invalidate City Council votes approving the project, arguing that hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from contractors, business owners and developers compromised the political process.

On Tuesday, Kioni Dudley, president of The Friends of Makakilo, held a press conference to unveil an analysis of Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission reports that found that from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2014, that Honolulu City Council members received 40 to 72 percent of their total political donations from those who would benefit directly from the development of D.R. Horton’s Hoopili project.

Dudley said the analysis also included individuals affiliated with the city’s $6 billion commuter rail project, which many politicians and developers believe will be a boon to Hoopili as well as other communities situated along its 20-mile route from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

Council members discuss and vote on Bill 44 Sit Lie Ban.  Honolulu Hale. 2 sept 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu City Council members have received large shares of their political donations from groups tied to rail and the Hoopili development, according to opponents.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

He added that the Friends of Makakilo analysis of campaign contributions is likely an underrepresentation of just how many donations have come from the pro-rail and pro-Hoopili community due to the difficulty of tracking spouses, relatives and employees.

“Council members get so much of their money from the construction community that they can never refuse them anything,” Dudley said while talking to a small gathering of reporters outside Honolulu Hale. “They know very well that if they do vote against a development project that all of that money will go their opponents.”

Specifically, The Friends of Makakilo wants the Honolulu Ethics Commission to issue an opinion on whether the votes on Hoopili were “compromised, biased, unethical and invalid.”

He also wants the commission to revisit and rewrite a 1977 opinion so that council members who get campaign contributions from individuals who could profit from their decisions would be required to declare a conflict of interest before casting their vote.

Dudley acknowledged that none of the campaign contributions were illegal. He also said he understands that the political donations are viewed as a form of free speech.

Here’s The Friends of Makakilo breakdown on City Council campaign contributions:

Council Member Total Contributions Amount from Hoopili/Rail Interests Percent
Kymberly Pine $160,879 $116,801 72%
Ernie Martin $451,240 $268,017 59%
Ikaika Anderson $139,518 $100,668 72%
Trevor Ozawa $183,320 $104,550 57%
Ann Kobayashi $57,136 $24,450 43%
Carol Fukunaga $258,321 $104,565 40%
Joey Manahan $182,215 $83,512 46%
Brandon Elefante $37,322 $24,292 65%
Ron Menor $48,405 $34,650 72%

About the Author