But voters should have known Mitsunaga was backing the PAC weeks ago when it first began airing advertisements attacking Honolulu’s mayor for poor leadership and inadequate responses to some of the biggest challenges facing the city.
That’s because a state law passed in 2013 requires super PACs to name their top three donors who helped pay for any political ads that are published or circulated via print, broadcast or other electronic means. That disclosure must be included in the advertisement itself.
A top donor is defined as anyone who has given $10,000 or more to a super PAC within a year prior to the purchase of an advertisement.
The next biggest donors are Amana Associates, a company managed by Mitsunaga, and Sam Hyun, the president of MCE International, a Honolulu-based mechanical engineering firm.
Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao said her agency is aware of the situation involving Save Our City, and said it will be a topic of discussion among the commissioners. She said she has also been in talks with officials from the super PAC.
Save Our City was recently fined $125 by the commission for violating rules that require disclosures indicating that advertisements have not been approved by a specific candidate.
Izumi-Nitao said she is aware of that situation also.
Mitsunaga issued a written statement through his daughter, Lois Mitsunaga, who is treasurer of his company, Mitsunaga & Associates. She is also a major donor to the Save Our City, having given at least $10,000 to the super PAC.
“At the time, we were unaware that we violated state campaign spending laws because we are new at this,” Mitsunaga said. “However, our attorney Sheri Tanaka has been working with the Campaign Spending Commission to fix this. Also, the Campaign Spending Commission has acknowledged that we are new at this so they have been helping us.”
Sarah Houghtailing, chairwoman of Save Our City, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Both Caldwell and his challenger, former Congressman Charles Djou, held press conferences Tuesday denouncing the influence of outside money in the campaign.
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