A big controversy surrounding the race for mayor of Honolulu is
focused on the state's pay-to-play culture of the past, and what pay
to play actually is. The reason for this is that a former Hawaii
governor is running for mayor, and he is being supported by Bob Watada, a former
state Campaign Spending Commission executive director who is
known for bringing the state's pay-to-play culture to its knees
during his 1994-2005 term in office.
According to a
November 2005 look at the executive director's career in the
, he fined nearly 100 companies for making
"false name" contributions and excessive contributions primarily to
the then Honolulu mayor and the then governor, who is now running
for mayor. "The city prosecutor and federal government took over
some of Watada’s cases charging corporate executives of those
companies with money laundering, making illegal campaign
contributions and tax evasion. The companies participated in the
scheme to boost their chances of getting government contracts,
concession rights or zoning clearances. Watada also either headed
investigations, or uncovered information, that led to a long line of
powerful politicians going to jail."
One politician who was not prosecuted was the then governor.
Watada says that he was clean, that he didn't know who made
contributions, that he didn't know about the illegal contributions made to his compaign,
and that the fact that he closed down his committee rather than
returning illegal contributions was common practice and perfectly legal.