top of page


The Ugly side of the Aloha State.

Hawai‘i is known for its beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and extraordinary natural beauty. But political scandals are what might be called the ugly side of politics here in the Aloha State. From former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi running a keno game out of his mayoral office to prosecuting attorney John D. Waihee IV's conviction for misappropriating state money in 1999, Hawai‘i has had no shortage of politicians violating campaign spending laws.

In 1999 John Waihe‘e’s campaign had a stack of refund checks it had been ordered to send to contributors who exceeded legal limits had never been cashed, in effect leaving the campaign with an "off the books" fund.

And then the campaign committee of former Gov. Waihe‘e tried to explain why another batch of refunds were never cashed, and how the resulting $80,000 surplus went unnoticed despite bank statements from two separate campaign accounts that had apparently been mailed to the campaign treasurer’s home every month for years.

Other politician’s campaign spending violations.

  • House Speaker Danny Kihano, who was convicted of dipping into his campaign coffers and trying to cover up the crime when a grand jury began investigating.

  • Former senator Milton Holt was found guilty of mail fraud in diverting campaign funds for personal use.

  • Another example of Hawaii’s "pay-to-play" culture, Maui mayoral candidate and former state environmental official Marvin Miura--who accepted thousands of dollars’ worth in gifts from Ross Prizzia in exchange for steering consulting contracts to his wife—has been convicted along with Prizzia on federal charges.

  • Former head of Honolulu’s municipal wastewater system, Ken Rappolt, imprisoned for securing nonbid contracts by giving campaign contributions to the mayor.

  • The Lum twins—Nora and Gene, who had gained experience raising money from questionable sources for local candidates before landing prestigious spots as Democratic National Committee fundraisers—were convicted of making illegal campaign contributions. Gene and Nora Lum orchestrated political payoffs and the eviction of Hawaii ranchers from their homes to aid Japanese golf course development.

  • Former state Sen. Marshall Ige, was found guilty of campaign violations and facing additional charges of theft, extortion and money laundering.

  • Roddy Rodrigues, Governor Cayetano's former aide and Unity House official was indicted on federal mail-fraud and tax evasion charges, then committed suicide.

  • Gary Rodrigues, (no relation to Roddy), a politically influential union leader who was charged with multiple counts of theft and money laundering after being accused by prosecutors of skimming funds from a series of his public worker union’s insurance deals. (In an apparent coincidence, Gary Rodrigues is no relation to Roddy.)

It's up to us, the voters.

Unfortunately, campaign violations are not unique to Hawai'i. There are several strategies that all candidates can incorporate into their campaigns in order to run ethically and maintain the public's trust after they have been elected. As a voter, it is crucial for people to become more informed on all levels of these ethics issues. If we as voters continue to elect unethical politicians it will bring distrust upon our government as well as our democracy in general. When there is lack of confidence in our system of government, it hurts all of us.

bottom of page