State Rep. Rida Cabanilla is under fire for voting in favor of a $100,000 grant for the Ewa Historical Society even though she is intimately intertwined with it. Cabanilla signed the society’s 2009 nonprofit tax filings — the most recent ones available — as its chairwoman. The society’s vice president, according to the organization’s grant application, is Cabanilla’s son, Chris Manabat, who is also his mom’s legislative office manager. And two of Cabanilla’s political aides are on the society’s board of directors. Sen. Will Espero helped shepherd the grant through the Hawaii Senate on Cabanilla’s suggestion, only to discover, he says, her multiple links. House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, who also voted for the grant, has said Cabanilla should have clearly disclosed her ties, which is what legislators are supposed to do when potential conflicts of interest arise. But Saiki said he believes the representative will detach herself from the organization. Cabanilla has insisted her role was completely transparent, but political cartoonist John Pritchett thinks the whole things smells very bad.

About the author: John Pritchett is a longtime award-winning political cartoonist. He has been penning artwork in Hawaii for decades, including 20 years at the Honolulu Weekly. Find more of his work on the web at

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author