Maui mayor says he's not trying to 'jury rig' funds to charities

Arakawa says he's not trying to 'jury rig' funds to charities
Updated: Dec. 13, 2017 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's Campaign Spending Commission wants to fine Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa $1,000 and wants him to pay back $8,000 to his campaign for excess donations to multiple charitable organizations.

Campaign spending rules limit a campaign's donations to charity, but unlimited advertising is allowed.

Arakawa told Hawaii News Now his campaign policy is not to give gifts, but they do buy advertising.

"I don't believe there's any implication that we deliberately are trying to do anything wrong, but they are trying to make the case that we are trying to jury rig the results for doing these ads," said Arakawa.

During its investigation, some nonprofits reported to the commission the Arakawa funds were indeed used for advertising, but other nonprofits had a different story.

Arakawa's campaign paid $5,000 to the American Cancer Society's Hopefest Maui event. Its attorney told the Campaign Spending Commission "the intention of soliciting sponsorships is to not sell advertising in any form."

In its complaint, the commission alleged that Arakawa's wife, Ann "knew about the limitations placed upon a candidate's donations to nonprofits and that she wanted Ms. Celiz' (of the American Cancer Society's Wailuku office) response to the commission "to be clear and say 'advertising'... not 'contribution or donation.'"

Arakawa says his wife did not try to influence the financial reporting of the charities.

"My wife contacted all of these people and that by our lawyers we cannot give legal advice so she told them we cannot give legal advice. It's up to you. This is what the campaign spending commission wants," he said.

When Hawaii News Now asked if Arakawa was concerned that these allegations regarding your campaign could tarnish his run for Lt. Governor or other office, he said 'not really.'

"In the community, a lot of people are coming up to me and saying it's a good thing that you are trying to buy ads in the community," he said.

A final ruling was expected Wednesday in the case, but the mayor's attorneys said they needed two more months for several non-profits to report back and commissioners agreed.

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