Federal records released Tuesday show Honolulu City Council chair Ernie Martin received more than $4,000 in campaign contributions from the president of an organization that had been given millions of dollars in grant money by the city department he ran.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says those campaign contributions may have influenced a decision to forgive a $1.2 million loan to ORI Anuenue Hale. Other organizations seeking loan forgiveness at the same time were not given the same break, the records show.

The documents confirm that Martin is the politician referenced in a section of a June 3 report that raises concerns about the loan being forgiven while city officials were receiving campaign donations.

HUD has directed the city to repay about $8 million that the agency believes was misused by ORI and mismanaged by the city. The report said city officials had received campaign contributions while responsible for overseeing ORI’s grant.

But HUD initially withheld the names of officials it said were involved in possible political favoritism involving ORI. The documents were released late Tuesday as part of a Civil Beat Freedom of Information Act request.

Civil Beat had asked HUD for records related to the potential conflicts of interest.

HUD’s response included campaign spending data for Martin that showed he had received $4,200 from ORI President Susanna Cheung between 2009 and 2012.

Martin was elected to the City Council in 2010. Before that he worked in the city’s Community Services Department where he oversaw the federal grant program from which ORI benefitted.

HUD documents show that although Martin did not sign the final loan forgiveness agreements, he was directly involved in issues pertaining to ORI for many years. The records include a decade-long history of emails and correspondence from Martin, including notifying city budget officials that ORI’s promissory notes were being cancelled.

The documents show that the loans for ORI were written off without telling HUD or getting the agency’s approval despite the fact that the loan money had come from the federal agency. In fact, according to a 2011 letter HUD sent to then-Mayor Peter Carlisle, the agency learned of the loan forgiveness after reading about it in Civil Beat.

HUD documents also show that three other nonprofits had asked the city for loan forgiveness around the same time that ORI had its debt written off. But the city did not approve those requests, saying it was working on a new policy to convert loans to grants.

In a Feb. 6, 2012 letter to Carlisle, a HUD official said the agency was concerned the city wasn’t managing the requests for loan forgiveness in a “fair and consistent manner” and that the city “failed to justify why ORI’s forgiveness was of greater importance than the other organizations’ requests for forgiveness.”

The documents also support HUD’s conclusion in its June 3 report that the decision to forgive ORI’s loan was out of the ordinary and likely to raise questions of favoritism.

HUD has asked the city to repay the nearly $8 million it has given to ORI in federal grants or risk losing future funding through the agency’s Community Development Block Grant program. HUD has also asked the city to reinstate the $1.2 million loan until a public hearing can be held on the matter.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has hired a private firm to investigate the assertions in HUD’s June 3 report. Among the allegations are that ORI requested a $90,000 donation from a contractor in exchange for a $5.3 million construction contract.

The Honolulu Ethics Commission has also opened its own investigation.

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