The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission voted unanimously Friday to take the rare step of referring a case regarding missed report deadlines from former state lawmaker Kaniela Ing to prosecutors for review.

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Ing, a former state representative from Maui and one-time congressional candidate, says he doesn’t plan to run for office again and did not raise or spend any money from his state campaign account, which as of June 30 showed $0 in cash on hand.

People with open campaign spending accounts are required to file routine disclosure statements with the commission. Ing missed a deadline in August and didn’t pay a $500 fine, according to a complaint filed by commission Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao. The commission’s website shows Ing filed the missed report in November.

Failing to file a report is a misdemeanor under Hawaii’s campaign spending law. The likelihood that Ing will actually be charged under that appears unlikely. Instances of prosecutors charging the targets of complaints from the commission are rare, with just three lawmakers being taken to court over violations since 2015.

To be charged, a prosecutor would need to prove that Ing “recklessly, knowingly or intentionally committed a violation of the law.”

Former state Rep. Kaniela Ing is in hot water again over a missed campaign report deadline. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2018

Ing contends he didn’t know the deadline to submit the latest report and he didn’t purposely withhold information to benefit himself.

“So the question is, is it reckless?” Ing, who appeared Friday without an attorney, said. He argued it was just a mistake.

“We can argue this back and forth, all day, forever,” commissioner Bryan Luke said, before asking the rest of the commission to send the case to prosecutors to sort out.

“I would like them to make that determination, if there may have been an intentional or reckless violation of this law,” he said.

Izumi-Nitao said that the staff would prepare packets to send to either the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office or the state Attorney General’s Office.

Ing was fined $15,000 for dozens of violations related to his candidate committee in 2018. He recently finished paying off those fines. Despite his run ins with the commission, Ing said he thinks the agency needs more funding and he supports a package of bills going before the Legislature in January that advocates for more oversight of money and politics.

“The irony is not lost on me that I’m in this process now,” Ing said.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.

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