Questions raised over how ex-lawmaker in corruption case is directing campaign funds

Your top local stories for Friday, August 5, 2022.
Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 10:51 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State candidates are concerned over a disgraced lawmaker’s campaign funds ― and how they are still apparently being spent.

Former state Rep. Ty Cullen has roughly $100,000 in campaign contributions, all of which were received before he was indicted on bribery charges. He subsequently pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Last month, Cullen’s campaign donated $2,000 to his sister-in-law, Jamaica Cullen, who is running for Ty Cullen’s seat.

The donation itself is still legal, but at least one of Jamaica Cullen’s challengers feels all of Ty Cullen’s campaign money should be returned.

“I think a lot of people will be surprised that after a politician admits guilt for taking a bribe, that they’re still able to hold on to their campaign contributions, and use these funds any way they want to,” said Corey Rosenlee, a candidate for District 39.

“It’s just wrong. And I think the right thing to do is that all that money should be returned back to the people that make good faith donations to these people.”


The Campaign Spending Commission says the money is legally Cullen’s, but can only be spent in certain ways if it’s not used for a campaign.

Cullen can donate it to charity, award a scholarship and pay down campaign debt. It can also be spent on any other candidate’s fundraisers, within the contribution limit.

The commission said if he chooses, Cullen can also return the money to his coffers.

Cullen is scheduled to be sentenced in the bribery case on Oct. 20.

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