Time running out for those hoping to oust city prosecutor with special election

Updated: Dec. 2, 2019 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The December 31 deadline looms for those looking to replace embattled city Prosecutor Attorney Keith Kaneshiro using a special election.

The ongoing issue remains the 500 electronic signatures on the impeachment petition.

“If you’re taking electronic voter registration how do you not accept electronic signatures?” said Keith Kiuchi, attorney for one of the organizers of the impeachment effort.

He said city attorneys aren’t playing fair by challenging the use of digital signing.

Kiuchi is appealing the city’s rejection.

Kiuchi and his client, Tracy Yoshimura, have also asked the state Supreme Court as well as the state Attorney General’s Office to intervene. If that doesn’t happen, the deadline will pass because the appeals court hearing isn’t scheduled until January.

“We’re running out of time really quickly here,” Yoshimura said.

Tracy Yoshimura, organizer of the impeachment effort to oust Keith Kaneshiro
Tracy Yoshimura, organizer of the impeachment effort to oust Keith Kaneshiro(None)

Kaneshiro continues to collect a paycheck, more than $170,000 a year, while on leave. In January, he finally admitted that he received a federal target letter from as part of a public corruption probe.

“The point is, the voters should have a right to decide who goes into the office given that the allegations of what that office has done is very serious,” Kiuchi said.

The same federal investigators already sent Kaneshiro’s former high ranking deputy prosecutor, Katherine Kealoha, to prison for obstruction, conspiracy, bank fraud, identity theft, and failing to report a federal crime. Acting city Prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto has also been brought into the mix. He was called to testify to the federal grand jury in the case last month, emerging after three hours.

The actual election for city prosecutor is next August, but Yoshimura wants Kaneshiro out sooner.

“Frankly, given what’s gone on, there has to be a new start and the new start starts not with the election that happens in 2020, it starts with a special election now,” Kiuchi said.

Kaneshiro’s office tried twice and failed both times to prosecute Yoshimura on gambling accusations. The judges in both efforts ended up scolding deputy prosecutors for how they handled the cases.

Kaneshiro’s attorney told Hawaii News Now his client has no plans to resign.

If the deadline passes, the critics say they’ll continue pushing for the impeachment.

Instead of a special election though, the city charter says the mayor can appoint someone new.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office has publicly said numerous times that Nadamoto is qualified to take over until the next election.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.