Keith Amemiya has raised the most cash of the Honolulu mayoral candidates so far, and Steve Alm is the lead fundraiser in the race for the prosecutor’s office, according to campaign finance reports for county races filed late Thursday.

Amemiya collected over $1.2 million in his bid for the mayor’s office – $468,769 in the last six months alone. That doesn’t include over $200,000 the candidate loaned his own campaign.

Keith Amemiya Job Interview Mayor Elections 2020

Keith Amemiya turned decades of business relationships into campaign cash.

The next largest fundraiser was Honolulu City Councilwoman Kym Pine followed by former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, former television executive Rick Blangiardi and hotel industry lobbyist and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Ten other candidates, including former state Rep. Bud Stonebraker and activist Choon James, raised far less.

Amemiya, a former insurance executive, raked in cash from many rich and influential people: Franklin Tokioka, director of Tradewind Capital Group; Christopher Benjamin, president and CEO of Alexander and Baldwin; Mark Mugiishi, president and CEO of HMSA; and Ed Schultz, president and CEO of Hawaiian Host Group, where Amemiya has held a board seat

He also received $14,500 from his father, former Hawaii Attorney General Ronald Amemiya, $4,000 from his cousin Roy Amemiya, who is Honolulu’s managing director, and $4,000 from Bert T. Kobayashi, Jr., a prominent local attorney who is Amemiya’s hanai father. 

The money has funded an advertising blitz. In the first half of this year, Amemiya spent $279,921 on television ads, $59,494 on digital media ads, $39,979 on print ads, $18,699 on radio ads and $38,313 on other media buys.

Pine raised $754,429 in the election period including $114,408 since January.

Among Pine’s contributions are thousands from executives at JP Capital, the Kobayashi Group, the MacNaughton Group, Nan Inc., and RM Towill Corp.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate 2020 sits for portrait at Kakaako Salt.

Councilwoman Kym Pine announced her run for mayor in October.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Her top expenditure this reporting period was campaign staff salaries totaling nearly $50,000 among four people. Other costs include over $32,000 for digital and social media ads and $3,665 to wrap a campaign van.

Pine has $391,048 left in cash on hand.

Hanabusa raised $537,026 so far in the mayoral election, about half of which she brought in since January.

Her contributions include $4,000 from the Friends of Ikaika Anderson – the campaign of the Honolulu City Council chairman, Resort Group Founder Jeff Stone, the Local Union 293 Legislative Fund, the Hawaii Laborers PAC and executives of Mitsunaga & Associates, an architecture and engineering firm.

Hanabusa has spent just under $400,000 including $35,624 on television ads, $31,937 on a finance consultant, $22,133 on a media consultant, and $6,712 worth of face masks for community giveaways. She has $194,845 in cash on hand.

Colleen Hanabusa

Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa wants to bring her federal government experience to city hall.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Rick Blangiardi, the former Hawaii News Now executive, raised $408,048 in donations from the community.

The first-time candidate and millionaire loaned his campaign $250,000 and personally covered over $15,000 in expenses for office supplies and other items, his spending report shows. His wife, Karen Chang, also donated $30,000.

Counting the money Blangiardi and his wife contributed, the campaign receipts total $703,609.

Those who gave Blangiardi the maximum amount – $4,000 – include former Gov. Ben Cayetano and First Lady Vicky Cayetano; the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers; retired Queens Health CEO Art Ushijima, who is Blangiardi’s campaign chair; and Raymond Vara, president and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health.

Rick Blangiardi Job Interview Mayor Elections 2020

Rick Blangiardi has never run for office before.

Several Central Pacific Bank executives donated to Blangiardi but the bank’s PAC donated to Amemiya.

Attorney Bill McCorriston, who Blangiardi said represented him when he had legal trouble in the 1980s, also gave $4,000.

So far, Blangiardi has spent $446,406. Most of that – just under $300,000 – was spent on “Advertising, Media & Collateral Materials” including about $190,000 on ads with his former employers, Hawaii News Now and KHNL/KGMB, LLC.

He has also spent $47,494 on surveys, polls, research and voter lists; $35,334 on his campaign headquarters on South Beretania Street; $17,247 on campaign personnel and over $15,000 on food and beverages. His biggest single expenditure was over $29,000 to the Anthology Marketing Group for polling.

President Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association Mufi Hannemann during press conference that Governor Ige announced 14-day quarantine for all visitors due to Coronavirus outbreak.

Mufi Hannemann is currently the president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

His campaign has $257,204 in cash on hand.

Hannemann was a last-minute entrant to the mayor’s race.

In just the month of June, he raised $387,574. Hannemann still has $356,193 in cash on hand thanks in part to $51,000 he contributed to his own campaign and $113,443 he had leftover from previous political races.

His campaign donors include Steve Sombrero, president and CEO of Chaney Brooks; former Aston Hotels & Resorts CEO Kelvin Bloom; and the Castle & Cooke, Inc. Legislative Committee.

Hannemann spent $209,003, including $18,325 on the Hagadone Media Group.

Alm Makes A Comeback

In the race for Honolulu prosecutor, Alm raised $117,129 since January contributing to a total of $219,819 for the election period.

His contributors include former Police Commission member Loretta Sheehan; Micah Kane, president and CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation; and Paul Yonamine, chairman and CEO of Central Pacific Financial Corp.

He is also backed by some of the most prominent and powerful players in Hawaii’s legal and lobbying circles. To name a few: former Attorneys General David Louie and Margery Bronster, Servco executive Mark Fukunaga, attorney Paul Alston, lobbyist Bruce Coppa, Zephyr Insurance Co. executive Tim Johns, retired judge Dan Foley, lobbyist executive Blake Oshiro, YMCA President Michael Broderick and attorney Jeff Portnoy.

Steve Alm joined the race with an endorsement from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Christina Jedra/Civil Beat

Alm also garnered union support including $4,000 in donations from the Masons Local 630, Ironworkers for Better Government, the Hawaii Laborer Political Action Committee, and the plumbers and pipefitters PAC.

Alm has spent over $200,000 on the race and has just under $40,000 on hand.

His top spending category was social media ads ($33,109) followed by banners and yard signs ($23,856), consulting ($20,000) and tech services ($11,179).


Notably, Alm is paying Allen McCune for consulting, campaign communications and voter data services. McCune is with the Washington, D.C.-based Mellman Group whose website says McCune helped Lt. Gov. Josh Green “win a competitive primary against a well-funded legislator and three other candidates and go on to win the general election.”

A former prosecutor, retired judge and probation advocate, Alm has the most name recognition in the race. However, in the previous reporting period, covering July 1 through Dec. 31, 2019,  he was outraised by Megan Kau, a former deputy prosecutor turned defense attorney.

Kau’s fundraising slowed down in the last few months. She has raised a total of $136,000 for her campaign but took in only $5,000 since April 26.

She has spent $63,000 and has $73,700 left in cash on hand.

Attorney Megan Kau announces her candidacy for Honolulu city prosecutor with Peter Carlisle outside Circuit Court building.

Attorney Megan Kau is backed by former mayor and prosecuting attorney Peter Carlisle.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Notable contributors to Kau include attorney Jim Wright ($2,000) and Friends of Ikaika Anderson ($500). Kau’s largest expenses for the first half of this year include paying more than $12,000 to Mana Means Communication for advertising and other promotions.

Jacquie Esser, a public defender and the most progressive candidate in the race, has raised $77,800, much of it from small donations. She has spent $45,000 and has $32,000 remaining in cash on hand.

Esser’s largest contributors are her immediate family members: her mother, JoDene Tryon ($9,350); her father, Michael Tryon ($500); her brother Tom Tryon ($155); and her husband, Joseph Esser ($5,378). Her husband’s contributions include in-kind donations such as yarn lei, a campaign phone line and video production.

All told, Esser has received $17,293 from her immediate family. Under Hawaii’s campaign spending law, immediate family members are allowed to contribute a combined total of $50,000 to a candidate.

Notable contributors to Esser include retired Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson ($750).

Candidate Jacquelyn Esser makes her introduction in the Honolulu Prosecutor Candidate Debate 2020 held at UH Manoa Orvis Auditorium.

Jacquie Esser was endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Esser’s largest expenditures are for advertising and consulting: the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ($2,356), Raycom Media ($2,425), Summit Media ($2,358) and Beretania Consulting (more than $5,000) over the past six months.

Acting Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto raised $24,000, spent $10,000 and had about $9,000 in cash on hand. His greatest election expense was made last year — $4,858 to Creative Co. Marketing Firm for web design, search engine optimization, social media and photography. He also carries over a loan to himself of $4,800.

Robert “RJ” Brown, a former deputy prosecuting attorney, has raised a total of $57,232 for this election and spent all but $10,000 of it. But during the most recent filing period — the first six months of 2020 — Brown raised only $26.

Brown’s largest campaign expenses are $10,000 for radio advertising on iHeart Media stations and $3,100 to the McClellan Group for political consulting.

Defense attorney Tae Kim raised $6,380, spent $4,900 (much of it on radio ads) and has $1,400 left over. Attorney Anosh Yaqoob raised $0.

Primary election ballots are scheduled to be delivered to mailboxes by July 21 and must be mailed back or dropped off by primary day, Aug. 8. If no one candidate gets over half the vote, the top two will face off in November.

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