HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The State Campaign Expenditures Commission is investigating a local developer for allegations of campaign finance abuse.
In a complaint made public Tuesday, the commission alleges JL Capital CEO Timothy Lee improperly reimbursed three employees and a former worker after donating $12,000 to the political campaigns of former Honolulu mayoral candidates Kym Pine and Keith Amemia in 2020.
Political watchdogs say this is a serious allegation.
“If campaigns depend on secret money from secret sources that only they know the connection to, then the public has no way to cross-check corruption,” said longtime investigative journalist and blogger Ian Lind.
The commission’s investigation is based on bank statements they assigned to Lee, his employees and the former worker.
The commission had scheduled a hearing for Wednesday but postponed the case to its next meeting. He said he could request further investigation, dismiss it, or refer the matter to law enforcement authorities for criminal investigation.
Over the past few years, JL Capital has invested tens of millions of dollars in new projects in the Kapiolani Corridor.
The biggest is the Sky Ala Moana condo project that the company is doing in partnership with another developer. The company also owns the former KGMB building on Kapiolani Boulevard and the Like Like Plaza on Keeaumoku Street.
JL Capital is also a major political donor in Hawaii.
A Hawaii News Now review of the state’s Campaign Expenditures Commission shows Timothy Lee and JL Capital employees and their relatives contributed more than $66,000 to nearly a dozen candidates.
The majority of these contributions were apparently made legally.
“It’s pretty common practice for developers and for them it’s a relatively small amount of money when you’re talking millions and millions of dollars at stake with these development projects,” Colin said. Moore, professor of political science at the University of Hawaii.
“That money gives you access or maybe special consideration for your project.”
A lawyer for Lee declined to comment for this story.
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