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Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) – Joey Manahan, a candidate for the Kalihi seat on the Honolulu City Council, has spent nearly $30,000 of his campaign funds on food and drinks during the last six months, prompting a review by the Campaign Spending Commission.
Manahan is a three-term State House member who's running for a seat representing Kalihi-Kai and Kapalama on the city council that's being vacated by Romy Cachola because of term limits.
Mahahan's campaign spending report filed earlier this month shows his campaign spent $12,167 for a fundraiser at the Ala Moana Hotel in May.
Manahan also received a $6,000 in-kind contribution from Outrigger Hotels for a "meet and greet" event at the Outrigger Reef Hotel in Waikiki in April.
His campaign has reimbursed Manahan and his wife Mary Ann for what he calls "campaign meals" at other well-known spots, including $516 at Ala Moana Center's Mai Tai Bar, $443 for meals at Wolfgang's Steakhouse in Waikiki and $263 for food at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Manahan listed 152 food and beverage charges worth $29,041 from January through the end of June this year.
That's much more than his council opponent Martin Han, who has spent just $1,600 on two food and beverage charges, according to Han's campaign spending report.
"We have reached out to Joey's committee to ask him to justify some of those expenditures and we surely hope he will cooperate with us," said Kristin Izumi-Nitao, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, which is reviewing the case, but has yet to open a formal investigation.
"We want to make sure that they are campaign-related expenditures, that they're not personal expenses," Izumi-Nitao said.
Manahan's campaign chair, Amy Agbayani, claimed all of his meal expenses were related to his campaign.
By feeding his supporters, "He was supporting his volunteers and reaching out to the community," Agbayani said. "It's a community that actually appreciates meeting together over a meal."
Manahan's campaign spending report listed meal expenses of $90 at Longhi's restaurant, $317 at Side Street Inn and $145 worth of meals at Akasaka restaurant near Ala Moana Center.
Manahan and his wife also got reimbursements for 24 meals at McDonalds, eight meals at Zippy's and four outings at Kenny's Restaurant in Kalihi.
Manahan's 152 expenditures for food and beverages exceed all the meals charges – 128 -- by the three leading candidates for Honolulu mayor during the same six-month period.
Peter Carlisle had 46 beverage and food charges worth $12,816 and Ben Cayetano reported 44 meal and drink expenses totaling $12,272. So Cayetano and Carlisle's meal expenses combined were less than Manahan's $29,041 in meal costs.
Kirk Caldwell's campaign reported spending $48,128 on 38 food and drink expenses.
Agbayani was unable to explain in detail what campaign related activities took place at many of the restaurant meals listed on Manahan's report. Manahan did not return Hawaii News Now's calls for comment.
"This is not an activity that is violating any rules," Agbayani said. "It's a very culturally appropriate thing to do," she said of feeding supporters at restaurants. "It might sound expensive, but it works."
Manahan reported raising $123,207 in campaign funds so far this election season and spending $99,778 of that total. His opponent Martin Han reported bringing in $66,467 during the campaign and spending $57,018 of that money.