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The state Campaign Spending Commission has filed a complaint against Rep. Kaniela Ing, saying he has filed false reports, accepted excessive contributions and used his campaign funds for personal expenses.
The commission is scheduled to take up the complaint, filed by Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao, at its next meeting on Wednesday.
In all, Ing faces 31 counts and the commission has recommended a fine of $15,422.
The commission subpoenaed bank records covering a five-year period and found Ing failed to disclose $28,915 in campaign contributions and $87,559 in expenditures, which is about 62 percent of his total expenditures, according to the complaint.
Bank records also show Ing used his campaign accounts to pay his rent on his personal residence on Maui, his landlord on Oahu and a VISA bill for his domestic partner, according to the complaint. The commission is asking him to reimburse his campaign for the $2,344 in “personal expenses” and pay a fine for commingling the accounts.
Ing said in a Dec. 5, 2017, email to the commission’s general counsel, Gary Kam, that he was acting as his own campaign treasurer and made the payments from his personal account by mistake. He said he promptly corrected and reimbursed the account in each instance.
On Thursday, Ing, a Democrat running for Congress in the First Congressional District, called a press conference to tell reporters his side of the story.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Ing said any errors he may have made in his prior campaigns for the state House were bookkeeping in nature and that he is confident the commission will not find any ill intent or malice.
He said he stands ready to cooperate fully with the commission and accept the outcome.
“I will not find anyone to blame,” Ing said. “The responsibility is on me.”
Ing said that as a young candidate in his 20s, he did much of the back-end campaign accounting on his own while running for the south Maui seat in the House.
“It’s easy to avoid these sorts of errors when you have the establishment support,” he said, noting he is a progressive Democrat dependent on grassroots support.
Asked whether he felt the allegations were politically motivated, Ing said he has received similar questions from constituents but it would only be “conjecture.”
“This degree of scrutiny in past campaigns is new for me,” he said.
Looking forward, Ing said his congressional campaign is far more well equipped than his past House campaigns. He said it is outfitted with accountants, lawyers and advisers.
“I’m not a professional accountant,” Ing said. “What I have dedicated my life to is public service.”
Ing said he was raised to know it’s OK to make mistakes “but only if you fix them.”
Read the commission’s complaint below.
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