The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday fined state Rep. Rida Cabanilla $32.81 for using her campaign funds to buy a golf bag and take herself out to eat.
The Ewa Beach Democrat was one of a few dozen candidates and political action committees — from Syngenta to Sierra Club — that were fined anywhere from $14 to $1,505 during the busy morning meeting. The violations were mostly over failing to file campaign finance reports on time.
In addition to being fined, Cabanilla also has to pay the money back to her campaign account using personal funds ($100 for the golf bag and $31.65 for her meal at Pueo’s Restaurant). Her fine was based on 25 percent of the improper expenses, standard practice for the commission.
State Rep. Rida Cabanilla
Cabanilla, who lost her bid for re-election in the Aug. 9 primary, explained the July 8 meal at Pueo’s with a single line in her expense report: “I need to eat too.”
Gary Kam, the commission’s general counsel, said she told him that her account was hacked and that she didn’t write that description, but didn’t dispute the expense.
Rose Martinez, who won the Democratic primary in the House District 40 race, along with her campaign committee and treasurer, Kimberly Okamura, were fined $1,505 for filing a false report and turning two reports in late. Martinez is challenging incumbent Republican Bob McDermott in the Nov. 4 general.
For the most part, the commission went along with staff recommendations for how much to fine the candidates and committees. But in a couple of instances the fines were reduced.
For instance, the commission had recommended fining the Equality Hawaii Action Fund $1,126 for failing to file a timely preliminary primary report. The commission knocked it down to $500.
Many of the violations were first-time offenses. The commission fined Sygenta Crop Protection $100 for filing its preliminary primary report late, the same fine it doled out to the Hawaii House Democratic PAC, Subcontractors Association of Hawaii PAC and Ocean Tourism Coalition PAC.
The commission fined the Sierra Club Hawaii PAC $300 for not turning its preliminary primary report in on time.
Maui County Council candidate Henry Kahula received a $1,000 fine for failing to file two different reports, same as Kauai mayoral candidate Curtis Hendrix Lake and Poverty Free Hawaii.
In all, the commission doled out roughly $10,000 in fines for 20 conciliation agreements and 19 dockets. It was the longest agenda the commission has had in years.
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