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Businessman at center of bribery scandal has not been charged but has history of legal campaign donations

The attorney for the businessman at the center of the State Capitol bribery scandal says legal campaign contributions don’t mean he’s guilty of bribery.
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 4:13 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2022 at 12:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The attorney for the businessman at the center of the State Capitol bribery scandal says legal campaign contributions don’t mean he’s guilty of bribery.

Businessman Milton Choy has not been charged and had spent years supporting scores of politicians, including the two now accused of bribery. A lot of the legal giving was focused on Maui.

Attorney Michael Green is representing Choy.

He won’t confirm Choy cooperated in the investigation into former Senate Majority Leader Kalani English and state Rep. Ty Cullen.

Both will plead guilty to a felony and face years behind bars.

However, multiple sources have identified Choy as the businessman who allegedly gave thousands in cash and gifts to English and Cullen.

And on Friday, 13 state senators who received campaign donations from Choy said they will give his donations to the Campaign Spending Commission to help publicly finance other candidates.

Retired federal public defender Alexander Silvert says it’s possible that Choy felt coerced or extorted by the two politicians charged in the scandal and voluntarily came forward to federal authorities.

He added that another scenario could be “the FBI was looking into campaign contributions or tax issues ... stumbled across him and confronted him and individual A starts cooperating.”

“If individual A really came forward on their own and started cooperating without being caught first, they might not even be charged at all,” Silvert said.

Choy and his associates made hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal campaign donations and politicians on Maui got more than most.

Nearly $60,000 went to candidates for governor and David Ige received half of it. More than $133,000 went to state senators, including $19,000 to English.

House candidates got $45,000; Cullen got $11,000 of that.

Maui candidates for all offices scored the most ― more than $65,000.

Over $11,000 went to former Maui Sen. and Lt. Gov Shan Tsutsui. That could be because Choy’s businesses dealt with a big issue on Maui ― wastewater management.

His attorney says legal donations don’t prove bribery and maybe the opposite.

“Normally if you were doing something like that that’s corrupt you wouldn’t see it being carried in such a way that everybody would know how much a particular person is contributing,” Green said.

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