POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 8, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 5:00 a.m. HST, Aug 8, 2014
HILO » A Hawaii County Council candidate has been accused of voter fraud and tax irregularities.
Eight people gathered at the state building in Hilo on Wednesday to announce they want the state attorney general's office to investigate alleged tax and voting irregularities by Tiffany Edwards Hunt, a candidate for Council District 5 (portion of Puna), the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.
Among those seeking an investigation is Sativa Sultan, campaign manager for another District 5 Council candidate, RJ Hampton. Hampton and Roxanne Lawson, former Democratic Party precinct chairwoman for District 4, also were part of the group.
"We believe politicians are obligated to follow the same laws as their constituency," Lawson said.
The group alleges Edwards Hunt used the Pahoa address of her husband's surf shop on her voter registration form in the 2010 and 2012 elections rather than her home in Hawaiian Acres, a Puna District subdivision. The address was changed to Hawaiian Acres in 2013.
In the 2010 election, the home was in District 6, and the surf shop was in District 5. In the 2012 election, after redistricting, the surf shop was in District 4, and Edwards Hunt's home was in District 5.
The group also wants an investigation into a homeowner's tax exemption that Edwards Hunt received for a Hilo house while she lived in Hawaiian Acres.
Edwards Hunt is calling the complaints a distraction.
"While I support every citizen's right to petition the government, I'm confident that the AG will find no merit to this latest challenge," she said in a statement.
County Clerk Stewart Maeda said last week that because the deadline for candidate challenges has passed, he could not investigate an earlier complaint from Sultan that alleges Edwards Hunt cannot run in the Puna election because she receives a tax break for the Hilo home. Homeowners must live in a residence for at least 200 days a year to receive the exemption. Sultan questioned whether that makes Edwards Hunt a Hilo resident.
Edwards Hunt said she has lived in Hawaiian Acres since about 2006. She said she wasn't aware that the tax exemption for the Hilo house was still in effect until she received a letter from the county asking for a status clarification. She said she removed the exemption, which is set to take effect next year.
This week Maeda said he will forward voter fraud complaints against Edwards Hunt to the county attorney's office. He said he could not investigate the allegations himself because they involve previous elections.
"But because there were possible criminal violations, we are going to refer it to the prosecutor's office," he said.
Edwards Hunt listed the surf shop as her voting address between Nov. 24, 2008, and Sept. 26. A post office box was listed as her mailing address.