Honolulu prosecutors will decide whether to file criminal charges against the Pacific Resource Partnership’s political action committee for failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars spent during the 2012 mayoral campaign, among other violations.

The state Campaign Spending Commission voted 3-1 Wednesday to refer two complaints against PRP to city prosecutors. Commissioner Eldon Ching was the dissenting vote.

The complaints were brought by the executive director of the commission and former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who was a mayoral candidate in 2012 running on the promise of stopping the $5.26 billion Honolulu rail project.

Lead Crop PRP strategy emails Gov. Ben Cayetano's mayoral race

Copies of PRP strategy emails concerning former Gov. Ben Cayetano and the 2012 Honolulu mayoral race.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

PRP, which represents the state’s largest carpenters’ union and more than 200 contractors, orchestrated a $3 million campaign against Cayetano that led to his defeat.

Campaign Spending Commission associate director Tony Baldomero said the commission’s decision to refer the complaints to city prosecutors is uncommon, and only occurs when the violation is “intentional, knowing or reckless.”

The commission launched the investigation into PRP after Civil Beat reported that more than 400 internal emails among PRP officials revealed that the organization relied upon work by political operatives Andy Winer, Barbara Tanabe, Jim McCoy and Jason Stanford, who were not named in the group’s campaign spending report.

The emails were obtained as part of Cayetano’s defamation lawsuit against PRP, which was settled in exchange for a public apology and two donations.

PRP attorney Leroy Colombe could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“I think that it was the absolute right thing to do,” Cayetano said of the commission’s decision in a phone interview. “It was clear to me that they were trying to hide something.”

Read Cayetano’s complaint below:

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