WAILUKU -- A 2nd Circuit judge on Wednesday granted a request by the state Attorney General's Office to have Wailuku Main Street Association and its board chairman, Thomas Cannon, to comply with a subpoena to turn over various association documents as well as for Cannon to appear for sworn testimony.
Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza stressed that he was ruling on the subpoena issue and not on the merits of the association's arguments.
The formerly county-funded nonprofit has been under investigation by the Attorney General's Office for nearly a year for possibly violating Hawaii's nonprofit laws.
"I'm not saying or making any finding whether the association is conducting itself as it should," Cardoza said during the ruling.
Cannon, who was representing himself at the hearing, declined comment to The Maui News after Cardoza's ruling.
But he said outside of court that if the public wanted WMSA's side of the story, they should visit www.mauitowns.org.
During the hearing, Cannon at length explained that a former board member was pushing the AG's office to investigate the association as well as providing false information to the state. He added that supervising state Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones of the Tax & Charities Division also was over reaching his authority.
He added that a "few bad apples" were trying to take down a "Hawaii grass-roots organization" that has done so much for Maui and its community.
Outside of court, Jones said: "We are pleased the court has enforced the subpoena."
He added that the state is trying to find out what happened to county taxpayer funds and added that if Cannon has nothing to hide, he should "swear under oath."
In response to Cannon's argument that the organization should be entitled to some privacy as it is a group of volunteers, Jones said: "This is a public charity, not CIA."
On Aug. 30, the Tax & Charities Division issued a report detailing its inquiry of the association. It cited nepotism, lobbying in violation of its grant contract with the county, conflicts of interests, inaccuracies with its IRS From 990 and little evidence of program services, among other issues.
Cannon and WMSA have until Jan. 3 to produce the documents requested. A tentative date of Feb. 21 is scheduled for Cannon's sworn testimony.
For more on this story, see Thursday's Maui News.