EXCLUSIVE: State lawmaker Romy Cachola faces second investigatio - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

EXCLUSIVE: State lawmaker Romy Cachola faces second investigation

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Romy Cachola Romy Cachola

Longtime state lawmaker Romy Cachola is facing a new investigation into claims that he abused his taxpayer funded car allowances.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the city Ethics Commission began its probe several weeks ago after the state Campaign Spending Commission opened a separate investigation into the Kalihi Democrat's use of campaign funds to buy a Nissan Pathfinder.

The Ethics Commission's inquiry covers the period when Cachola served in the City Council. He now serves in the state House.

A review of his monthly expenditure reports shows that he received $13,000 -- or $250 a month -- in city car allowance between 2008 and 2012.

That's in addition to $50,000 that he billed his campaign to purchase the SUV in 2008 and pay for gasoline and car insurance over a five-year period.

Cachola had no comment but in the past has said that he's cooperating with investigators.

Political analysts say the lawmaker's spending habits fuels the public's growing skepticism of elected officials.

"It gives the public the perception that their money is being wasted. It erodes trust in government," said University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Colin Moore.

"We already see this in that we have the lowest voter turnout in the nation."

Bob Watada, former director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, said he warned Cachola about his expenses many years ago.

"I advised him that her should be very careful, not to be using public funds for his personal uses," Watada said.

Watada said Cachola's car expenses appear similar to the abuses that resulted in jail sentences for former City Councilmembers Rod Tam and Rene Mansho.

"I advised him that her should be very careful, not to be using public funds for his personal uses," Watada said.

Added U.H. Professor Moore: "I'm surprised that these issues keep coming up because they continue to be investigated and often the charges are proven true."

Both investigations could result in thousands of dollars in fines. But if the allegations are serious enough, the case could be turned over to criminal investigators.

 

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