Ex-employees of major Hawaii-based defense contractor arrested
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The FBI Tuesday arrested two former employees of a local defense contractor for conspiring to funnel thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions.
Clifford Chen, former CFO of the Martin Defense Group, and former company accountant Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee turned themselves into the FBI’s offices in Kapolei this afternoon.
Both are accused of helping Martin Defense Group’s former CEO Martin Kao create a shell company to donate $150,000 to a political action committee supporting U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. They’re also accused of making contributions in the names of family members and reimbursing them.
Collins has denied knowledge of the contributions and Lum Kee’s attorney Megan Kau said her client was only following orders.
“All Kahele was doing was acting as bookkeeper. He was there a mere three months. He had no interest in any politicians, no interest in any bills that were being passed,” said Kau.
“He merely did what his controller and his CEO told him to do. He was following his chain of command.”
She said her client has cooperated with the Feds.
Campaign finance experts said just following orders usually isn’t a good defense when it comes to public corruption.
“If you say that then everybody will say they were following orders. If you wrote the check, you have to take responsibility,” said Bob Watada, former director of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.
Watada said when government contractors make illegal donations, the costs of the contracts usually increases and taxpayers end up paying.
The two men will make their initial court appearance on Wednesday.
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