Campaign panel to decide on fines
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
Former state Sen. David Matsuura has agreed to pay a $2,038 fine to the state Campaign Spending Commission for using his campaign money to pay for a trip to Japan in 2002.
In a separate case, former Honolulu Public Transit Authority chairman Amar Sappal agreed to pay a $2,000 fine related to making contributions under a false name to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris and to former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono.
The commission will vote on whether to accept the conciliation agreements next week.
Commission executive director Bob Watada said Matsuura, who represented a Big Island district, took the trip to Tokyo with other legislators before the 2002 election and reported the airfare and lodging as a campaign expense in 2003. Matsuura lost the 2002 primary election to Sen. Lorraine Inouye. Matsuura could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Regarding Sappal's case, Watada said Sappal reimbursed a friend for a $4,000 contribution to Harris' 2000 re-election campaign. Sappal, who was a deputy transportation director under both Harris and former Mayor Frank Fasi, also contributed $4,000 to the Harris campaign, according to a conciliation agreement signed by Sappal.
Watada said Sappal, senior vice president of Carter & Burgess Inc. Hawaii at the time, also reimbursed his son for a $4,500 contribution to Hirono's 1998 re-election campaign. Sappal is president of USI-Hawaii Inc.
Sappal declined to comment yesterday on the conciliation agreement but said: "I think Bob Watada is doing a good job. What he's doing right now needed to be done a long time ago."
In an unrelated case, Senate President Robert Bunda agreed to pay a $250 fine for using campaign money between 1999 and 2001 for individual scholarships and donations to religious organizations, a practice that is prohibited. Bunda also used campaign money for "personal expenses" totaling $250 in 2000 and 2001 for a graduation gift, a retirement dinner and a contribution to a school fund-raiser golf tournament in which he did not play.
Bunda, D-22nd (North Shore, Wahiawa), pointed out that his campaign stopped making such donations at least three years ago. "We recognized it was a problem early on, so we dispensed with all of that," he said.
Reach Lynda Arakawa at email@example.com or 525-8070.