With just three days until the official beginning of the 2014 election season, Mayor Alan Arakawa has a $379,294 war chest for his re-election campaign, even after his campaign spent nearly $82,000 in the second half of 2013 and returned more than $13,000 to some donors.
Candidate reports for income and expenditures for the second half of 2013 are due today to the state Campaign Spending Commission, but some politicians, such as Arakawa, turned theirs in early.
The mayor's disclosure shows his campaign returned $13,200 to seven donors, including $4,000 to Alexander & Baldwin Inc. HIPAC, $3,500 to the Makena Beach & Golf Resort, $2,000 to Trinity Investments LLC, $2,000 to HRP 56 LLC, $1,000 to Monsanto, $450 to Steven Lim and $250 to Mitchell Imanaka.
On Thursday, Arakawa campaign Chairwoman Lynn Araki-Regan said campaign spending limits of $4,000 for a mayoral race were exceeded by Lim, a Honolulu attorney with Carlsmith Ball LLP, who donated $4,450; and Imanaka, a Honolulu attorney with Imanaka, Kudo and Fujimoto, who contributed $4,250.
Contribution limits also were exceeded by HRP 56 LLC, a renewable energy company from Aiea, Oahu, she said.
The campaign contributions from A&B, Trinity Investments and the Makena Beach & Golf Resort were returned because the Arakawa campaign already had received donations from people "directly affiliated" with the companies, and "we decided to be proactive and thought it would be prudent to return their company donations," Araki-Regan said.
As for the donation from Monsanto, which did not exceed limits, she said that "while the donation was legitimate, we decided to return the funds to Monsanto because of the controversy regarding GMOs," which are genetically modified organisms.
Earlier this week, about a hundred Maui County residents testified at a hearing on a GMO-pesticide bill currently before a County Council committee. GMO regulatory laws have been passed on the Big Island and Kauai, with the Garden Island law being challenged in court.
In November, Arakawa signed a memorandum of understanding with Monsanto, getting assurances from the bioengineering company that does business in Maui County that it would engage in safe practices involving restricted-use pesticides. Among other things, the mayor's agreement with Monsanto required it to disclose details of its pesticide use, including types, amounts used and number of acres treated.
Donors giving the maximum amount of $4,000 included self-employed Wailuku investor Brent Toguchi; Pukalani resident Tanya Yokoyama, a bookkeeper with Robyco Construction; Tamura Enterprises Inc.; Kula resident Byon Nakasone, who works with sales/accounts payable and receivable with Robyco Construction; Oahu resident and business analyst Gary Cummings of Hawaiian Earth Products Ltd.; and GM Fleetwoods On Front Street.
Donations of $3,000 or more came from Kula resident and Honua'ula Partners manager Charlie Jencks ($3,876); Honolulu resident and Oahu Waste Services manager Frank G. Apa ($3,760 in-kind donation of food and beverages); ILWU Local 142 Hawaii PAC ($3,700); Arakawa Chief of Staff Herman Andaya ($3,685); Wailuku resident and mayor's executive assistant Jock Yamaguchi ($3,460); Waikapu resident and mayor's executive assistant Randy Piltz ($3,450); Bank of Hawaii PAC ($3,250); First Hawaiian Bank ($3,250); Wailuku resident and Hairways Hawaii LLC owner Eleri Agsalog ($3,105); Wailuku developer Everett Dowling ($3,100); Kapolei resident and manager of the Lahaina International Market Charles Hong Ok Lee ($3,000); Kapolei resident and manager of CMAE Services Inc. Michael Lee ($3,000); county community development block grant manager Anthony Arakaki ($3,000); and the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association Local 293 ($3,000).
In the second half of 2013, Arakawa took in $141,399.02 in donations, which was added to the $319,619.50 he had on hand at the end of the first half of 2013. That gave
him total receipts of $461,018.52. Then, there were total disbursements of $81,724.47, leaving him with $379,294.05.
Even though Arakawa has reported having far more funds available than any other county candidate, Araki-Regan said the mayor's re-election team is campaigning on the premise that there will be "a very strong candidate" or "candidates" lining up to attempt to unseat Arakawa.
"We're going to be working tirelessly on the campaign as we have been up to now," she said, noting that an opponent or opponents have until June 3 to file to run for mayor. "We can't at this point be taking a laid-back position."
The Arakawa campaign has scheduled another fundraiser, set for Feb. 28 at the Grand Wailea Resort. It costs $75 per person, she said.
Araki-Regan noted that campaign expenditures can add up.
The mayor's campaign spending records show that from July 1 to Dec. 31 expenditures included: $8,100 to Bentos & Banquets by Bernard Inc. for food and beverages for a fundraiser; $6,775 to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center for the rental of its venue for a fundraiser; a $5,482.79 reimbursement to the mayor's wife, Ann Arakawa, for "rice paddle" giveaways with the campaign logo; a $4,333.81 reimbursement to Mayor Arakawa for the purchase of a Macbook Pro and camera equipment; $4,142.67 to Lighthaus Camera in Lahaina for the purchase of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR camera; $3,620 to GM Fleetwoods On Front Street for food and beverages; $2,247.56 to buy ads in The Maui News; $2,094 to Hapa World Music LLC for entertainment at a fundraiser; and $1,368 to Maui Soda and Ice Works for drinks for campaign workers.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.