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Big Isle elections officials sue county clerk, council chairman

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The Hawaii County elections administrator and a former senior elections clerk, who were fired in January, have filed separate defamation and negligence lawsuits against County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, Council Chairman Dominic Yagong, the county and a private investigator.

Elections Administrator Patricia Nakamoto, who was reinstated in July but placed on administrative leave shortly thereafter, and former Senior Elections Clerk Shyla Ayau filed lawsuits Wednesday in Circuit Court on Hawaii island.

Kawauchi, who ran the Hawaii island primary election without an elections administrator, has been criticized for problems, including the late opening of more than a dozen precincts.

Nakamoto, Ayau, and county employees Glen Shikuma and Elton Nakagawa, were fired for activities at an elections warehouse. Three have been reinstated, and Shikuma, who died Aug. 21, had an arbitration scheduled in October.

The plaintiffs allege Kawauchi and Yagong leaked false information to the media and used pseudonyms on online blogs about details contained in an investigation by a private investigator hired by Yagong.

In its report, Corporate Specialized Intelligence and Investigations LLC said Shikuma conducted private business at the warehouse, and alcoholic beverages were consumed at year-end get-togethers there and Nakamoto had attended such gatherings.

The lawsuits allege defamation, invasion of privacy, putting them in a false light and negligent investigation and infliction of emotional distress.

Kawauchi and Yagong declined to comment on the allegations.

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