HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday voted to fine Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa $1,000 for exceeding donation limits to multiple charities.
He was also ordered to repay more than $8,300 to his campaign.
Campaign spending rules limit how much a candidate can give to charities, though Arakawa claims the money was for advertising and not donations.
"What he's arguing now is that by buying a table, he's paying for advertising," said Gary Kam, general counsel for the state Campaign Spending Commission.
"But if you buy an ad from his Kokua fund, you are making a donation. I don't see how that is logical at all."
Kenneth Goodenow, the commission's vice chairman, said the body must uphold rules on donations limits.
But he added, it wasn't a crime because Arakawa did not intend to misrepresent his campaign funds.
"I certainly do not think we should refer this to the state Attorney General's office for prosecution," he said.
"I don't believe the mayor had any bad intent. He was very straightforward: I only want to do advertising."
Commissioners also erased Arakawa's wife from the complaint after commission staff alleged she had tried to influence the nonprofits' financial reporting.
Arakawa says his battle has cost him $20,000 in attorney's fees and he's planning to continue to fight the complaint by filing for a contested case hearing.
"I'm very happy that they are acknowledging that we didn't intentionally didn't do anything wrong because we didn't," he said.