Maui Election

Rep. Kaniela Ing Apologizes for Campaign Violations, Vows to Move Forward

June 26, 2018, 1:14 PM HST
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Rep. Kaniela Ing. Courtesy photo.

The Hawaiʻi Campaign Spending Commission has reportedly fined Hawaiʻi Representative Kaniela Ing of Maui for a series of violations, as detailed in media reports including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser link provided.

A total of $15,422 in fines was assessed for more than 30 counts that were alleged to have occurred over a five year period.  In a response letter to the commission, Rep. Ing took full responsibility for the mistakes calling them “inadvertent.”

Rep. Ing also responded to Maui Now’s request for comment with an open letter to family, friends, supporters and loved ones.  In the letter he stated, “As a young parent and public servant strapped with over $50K of student loan debt and no assets, the fines could devastate the financial future of my family.”

He continued saying he will not let the situation discourage him.  “I made unintentional mistakes that hurt me, but I did so while fighting those who profit from intentional mistakes on the backs of working people. All I can do is apologize, correct my problem, face the consequences, make changes so they never happen again, and move forward,” said Rep. Ing.

Rep. Ing currently serves in the Hawaiʻi State House and is running for Hawaiʻi’s 1st Congressional District seat in the 2018 election.

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The full text of the letter is posted below:

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To my family, friends, supporters, and loved ones:

Most days I wake up hopeful and energized to work for the people and islands I love. Today was different. I felt jarred, heartsick, and ashamed all day.

I let you down, and I am so deeply sorry.

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I am sorry to the Commission, to my campaign team and volunteers, to my campaign donors, to my constituents, to my family, and to the people of Hawaii for my mistakes.

While my mistakes were unintentional, they were made, by me alone. I accept full responsibility for incorrectly reporting my campaign finances throughout my grassroots state House campaigns. They were simple mistakes that were never corrected and aggregated over time.

I understand the seriousness of these errors and their ability to erode public trust in government. I am working to correct them and have already hired professional support to make sure this never happens again.

My bank records and public financial disclosure information clearly show that I did not misuse campaign funds or benefit financially. When I saw that my campaign account was mistakenly debited in two instances, I immediately reimbursed my campaign with personal funds. That was years ago, before the CSC inquiry began. Unfortunately, these facts went unreported by most media outlets.

The fines exceeded $15,000, which is a lot of money for me and my family, so I asked the Campaign Spending Commission to consider lowering the fines. Most incumbent candidates pay fines through their campaign accounts, so it hardly stings. I will likely have to pay personally, because my state house campaign account has been depleted due to not running for re-election. As a young parent and public servant strapped with over $50K of student loan debt and no assets, the fines could devastate the financial future of my family. However, I accept the painful consequences for my mistakes and intend to pay the fine through a payment plan.

To other young or working people looking to enter public service, let my experience show that running for office is extremely hard work, especially without resources and connections. Fighting for the right reasons and trying your best is not enough. Pay close attention to every detail, learn all of the rules early, and seek help from others.

But please do not be discouraged by this. We need you to get involved more than ever. Income inequality is worsening, our planet is gasping for air, and our democracy is on the brink of collapse.

This ordeal has been incredibly stressful, I began to ask myself whether any of this is worth it for my family. I’ve considered giving up and changing courses, finding a job where my mistakes don’t end up in the evening news.

But then I think about my son, Laguna, and what he will think when he’s older, reads these stories, and asks about how we got through these times. Did I give up or fight for his future? The stakes are too high to stop now. So we put on a smile, and we keep going, even on days like this. Because, if not us, who?

I made unintentional mistakes that hurt me, but I did so while fighting those who profit from intentional mistakes on the backs of working people. All I can do is apologize, correct my problem, face the consequences, make changes so they never happen again, and move forward.

I am so grateful to be a part of our movement. I will never stop fighting for you. And if you need me to, I will keep working to rebuild your trust.

Mahalo for standing with me. Our Hawaiʻi, our loved ones, and our future is everything to me.

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