Attorney Sam King II has the most money to spare in the race for the Oahu seat on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees heading into Saturday’s primary.
Longtime trustee Rowena Akana has the most cash on hand in the race for at-large seats. She reported loaning herself $15,000 in July and ending the month with nearly $13,82o in cash and $32,800 in debt.
But Akana may be on the hook for $600 in fines after filing her Aug. 1 campaign spending report two days late.
That’s according to a review of the latest campaign spending reports covering expenses from July 1 to July 27 for candidates for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The public agency manages hundreds of millions of dollars held in trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians and is currently the subject of a state attorney general investigation launched after a state audit harshly criticized OHA’s spending.
OHA candidates typically spend less than others seeking statewide contests. But some have raised and spent thousands on advertising and other expenses in the month of July alone. Saturday’s primary will include 15 contenders for three at-large seats and seven candidates for the single Oahu seat.
Numerous OHA candidates aren’t required to file expense reports because they plan to spend or receive less than $1,000 this election period, according to Tony Baldomero, associate director of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.
They include Jackie Kaho’okele Burke, who is running for the Oahu seat along with several at-large candidates: current trustee Lei Ahu Isa, Alvin Akina, Keali’i Makekau, Marc Kalai Pa’aluhi, Kaui Jochanan Amsterdam and Kali Puuohau.
But Baldomero said both Akana and former state Rep. Faye Hanohano filed their reports two days late and may be subject to $300-per-day fines.
Hanohano, a former state representative who is running for an at-large seat, may get her fees waived if she confirms she will spend or receive less than $1,000 this year. She told Civil Beat in a phone call Friday that she’s not raising or spending any money for her campaign and her report reflected that.
“I’m not collecting money or anything for this campaign,” she said. “I’m just giving people a choice for who they want to vote for. When you start collecting money it gets too complicated.”
Akana said that she plans to ask for a waiver of the fine as well because the campaign finance deadlines are close together and confusing. Baldomero said such waivers are rarely granted.
Race To Represent Oahu
King is a right-leaning candidate who doesn’t believe in race-based government and wants to bring more fiscal transparency to OHA. He and Esther Kia‘aina were the biggest spenders in July in the contest for the Oahu seat.
King spent more than $20,000 from July 1 to July 27, ending the month with nearly $9,120 in the bank. His biggest campaign donor in July was Ely Lundquist, a self-described homemaker who gave him $6,000.
His biggest expenses included nearly $9,000 for radio advertising, $6,204.19 for yard signs and $1,885.56 to hold a fundraiser at the Waikiki Yacht Club.
Kia‘aina reported spending $17,673 in July, including nearly $16,000 on TV and radio advertising. She had $4,124 in cash on hand as of July 27.
Other candidates for the Oahu seat raised and spent significantly less. Francine Murray spent $7,150 and had a few hundred dollars left heading into the primary. Kalei Akaka raised $2,632 but only spent about $600.
The contest between Ke’eaumoku Kapu and Carmen Lindsey for the Maui OHA seat is on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Biggest Spenders For At-Large Seats
After Akana, William Aila, deputy director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and former state Sen. Pohai Ryan have the most cash on hand among candidates seeking three at-large seats on the board.
Aila and Makana Paris spent the most money in July out of the 15 candidates for at-large seats.
Paris received donations from state Sen. Michelle Kidani and former state homelessness czar Colin Kippen. He still owes $1,570 to the Waiwai Collective, an event venue on University Avenue.
Paris also got money from the statewide police union, Local Union 293 State Legislature Fund, United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local480CLC and Unite Here Local 5, which represents hotel and service workers.
Aila’s July donors include former OHA trustee Haunani Apoliona. He spent $6,912 on radio ads and an OHA newspaper ad.
Aila and Ryan have the most money heading into the primary. Aila reported having $3,896 in cash on hand as of July 27, while Ryan said she had $3,582 to spare.
Ryan reported just two contributions in July — $250 from the police union and $250 from OHA chairwoman Colette Machado. Her expenses include $418 for radio advertising with Summit Media.
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