Editor’s Note: Samuel Wilder King II is a candidate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

On July 11 the first preliminary campaign spending reports were filed by candidates running for the Oahu seat of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and in some important ways the reports tell the true story of the OHA race.

We are proud the reports revealed that our campaign, Friends of Sam King, has raised the most money since Jan. 1, 2018, to June 30, 2018. This is an impressive feat and kudos go to my campaign team, supporters and donors as we have only been fundraising since May.

Thank you to everyone who has donated and worked our campaign and let’s keep up the good work!

The next highest fundraising candidate, Esther Kiaaina, has been fundraising since February 2018. She technically “raised” more money than us, but only by giving herself $28,500 in loans. As of June 30 her campaign was $11,572 in debt.

Left, OHA Chair Colette Machada leads board meeting with left, Member Dan Ahuna in OHA meeting held at board room with large chairs.

The boardroom for OHA trustees at their Nimitz Highway offices.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that doesn’t seem like the kind of fiscal responsibility we need at OHA. Then again, this is only the first preliminary report — maybe her establishment friends will bail her out.

And what friends she has! Embattled OHA CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe and OHA Trustee Chairwoman Colette Machado both donated to Esther on Feb. 27. This is astounding given that I had published an op-ed right next to Colette’s two days earlier calling for Crabbe and Colette to be replaced as a result of the gross mismanagement of OHA revealed in the state audit released early this year.

I guess Colette and Crabbe know who to back in order to protect their jobs. Clearly, if you want to see change at OHA, Esther Kiaaina is not the candidate to vote for.

Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of Esther’s report (for Esther) is that since our campaign switched from the at-large race to the Oahu race June 4, Esther has only raised $1,100 (she has, however, loaned herself $17,000 in that same period).

Continued Status Quo?

After Esther, the majority of the remaining candidates appear to be running to raise awareness of the need for change at OHA, but they have raised very little money (see report by Civil Beat). Having heard most of them at recent debates, however, it seems to me they are all passionate about OHA and have ideas worth considering.

However, without significant fundraising, it is often difficult to achieve the name recognition that is usually critical for winning elections.

What is clear from the first report is that there is a definite decision to be made in the selection.

OHA matters to everyone and Hawaii. What OHA does and how they do it affects native and nonnative Hawaiian alike. And every citizen in Hawaii, native and nonnative, has a stake in this election and needs to vote.

What is clear from this report is that that vote is either going to be for the continued status quo of financial mismanagement, racial separatism and cronyism or for responsible, transparent reform of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. I believe this first financial reporting shows that Hawaii is ready for reform.

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