Campaign Spending Commission investigates COVID testing company that got big city contract
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration.
Hawaii News Now has learned that the commission has subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract in 2020 for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
The commission is looking at whether the company reimbursed the employees who gave a total of $10,000 to the Caldwell campaign in November 2021.
Campaign finance experts said the allegations are serious.
“It’s egregious to use a public health crisis as a means of getting campaign contributions,” said Bob Watada, former executive director of the Campaign Spending Commission.
“I would say that’s the low point of pay-to-play.”
Capture Diagnostics denied making any illegal political donations.
“No Capture Diagnostics employee was ever reimbursed for their personal campaign contribution. Capture has not and would not violate campaign spending laws in the state of Hawaii,” said CEO John D’Orazio.
An attorney for one of the Capture Diagnostic employees — Wes Yonamine — said the commission subpoenaed his client’s bank records back in April. He said he hasn’t had any communications with the commission since.
The commission has also subpoenaed the bank accounts of another employee Jordan Kurokawa, who works as compliance administrator and project coordinator for Capture Diagnostics.
Kurokawa’s father is Gary Kurokawa who was Caldwell’s former chief of staff. Gary Kurokawa signed off on the airport testing contract.
Testing experts said the optics are bad.
“I think it all has to be investigated. It should be investigated on all of our islands ... every contract that has been out there, because I think we’re going to find that these monies have flown to insiders,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, a COVID testing expert.
But Gary Kurokawa said he sees nothing wrong with his son working for Capture Diagnostics because the younger Kurokawa was hired by Capture well after the city awarded the airport testing contract.
Gary Kurokawa also said his son worked on Capture Diagnostic’s testing work for the state at the Blaisdell Center and didn’t work on the city’s testing program at the airport
He said his son’s contribution to the Caldwell campaign came from a joint account that he and Jordan Kurokawa share for their real estate appraisal business.
He added that his son was not reimbursed by Capture Diagnostics.
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