Newly released campaign spending data show the Pacific Resource Partnership did not report more than $360,000 in expenditures during the 2012 election.
Almost all of that money — about $260,000 — went to three consultants who were instrumental in taking down former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, who was running for Honolulu mayor on an anti-rail platform.
The consultants include U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz’s current chief of staff, Andy Winer, local public relations firm Hoakea Communications and Stanford Campaigns, an Austin, Texas-based opposition research firm.
As a super PAC, the Pacific Resource Partnership was able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.
PRP, an advocacy group for union carpenters and contractors, updated its financial reports after the the Hawaii Campaign Spending launched an investigation into payments made to these consultants. Those reports were amended and filed in early September, according to the commission.
Civil Beat first reported in June that the consultants were heavily involved in PRP’s political attacks on Cayetano, yet did not appear in any of the group’s payment records kept by the state Campaign Spending Commission.
Campaign Spending Commission attorney Gary Kam said he will recommend a fine for PRP for omitting expenditure information from its reports. He hasn’t decided how much that penalty should be because he is still reviewing the case.
“I am pursuing an investigation,” Kam said. “It is not completed yet.”
When candidates or a political action committees don’t report all contributions or expenditures for a given period, the commission can levy a $250 fine for each inaccurate report.
Kam said that fine can be as high as $500 if a false report is filed that inaccurately lists zero contributions or expenditures.
Amount PRP reported paying
Since PRP did report many of its expenditures throughout the campaign, the group would probably fall into the $250 fine range for each report that did not include comprehensive spending information.
Campaign Spending Commission data shows that PRP amended five spending reports related to the campaign, which means it could face a $1,250 fine.
That’s not much money for a group that reported spending more than $4.1 million during the 2012 election, mainly on the Honolulu mayor’s race in which Kirk Caldwell was victorious.
PRP is also heavily involved in this year’s election under the name Forward Progress, which is registered as a super PAC with the Campaign Spending Commission.
So far, Forward Progress has spent nearly $435,000 in the current election cycle through Aug. 9. Much of the money has focused on county council races on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.
PRP’s Executive Director John White did not return a request for comment.
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