- Associated Press - Friday, October 13, 2017

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is accused of breaking campaign spending laws by misrepresenting more than $6,000 in advertisements.

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission claims Arakawa’s campaign characterized the funds as ads when they were actually donations to nonprofits. Campaigns are allowed to give up to $8,000 in charitable donations but can’t misrepresent them as campaign expenses, the commission said.

“It’s not necessarily advertising as you have tried to characterize it,” said Kristin Izumi-Nitao, the commission’s executive director. “It has to do with goodwill, seeding the community . for voters.”

Arakawa defended himself before the commission Wednesday, saying “we never did anything intentionally to get away from the rules.”

When his campaign spent the money, the nonprofits told his staffers that the funding was solely for advertising, Arakawa said. His campaign doesn’t make charitable donations to avoid breaking state campaign spending laws, the mayor said.

Investigators also have accused Arakawa’s wife of telling nonprofit officials not to cooperate. The mayor’s attorney, David Minkin, called those allegations a witch hunt.

“To say that Ann Arakawa is out there rustling the bushes and doing all sorts of nefarious things based on one conversation (is) inappropriate, mistaken,” Minkin told Hawaii News Now .

Commissioner Kenneth Goodenow said it’s not a criminal case and wasn’t “reckless,” but the commission is considering a $2,000 fine.

A decision on punishment has been delayed until the commission’s Dec. 13 meeting.

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