The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission fined Hawaii Rep. Kaniela Ing more than $15,000 today for filing 23 false reports detailing his campaign contributions and expenditures dating back to 2011, using campaign funds to cover personal expenses and other violations of Hawaii campaign spending laws.
Commission staff said that all 23 reports that Ing filed between 2011 – 2016 were incorrect. Ing was also found to have used campaign funds to cover $2,125 in rent payments for residences on Oahu and Maui, and another $219 to make a credit card payment on his domestic partner’s credit card account. Ing, who represents south Maui, also deposited a campaign check worth $2,000 into his personal checking account — money that he never reported on his campaign spending reports. Those funds exceeded limits on campaign contributions and Ing has been ordered to return the money.
Ing, who is currently running for Congress, asked commissioners to lower the fines, noting that his state campaign accounts were nearly empty and he would therefore have to cover the costs personally. He said this would present a hardship for him and his family. However, staff indicated that they could come up with a payment plan.
Ing avoided having the case referred for criminal prosecution, something Commissioner Gregory Shoda pushed for.
“In the past, we have had other cases where people have made maybe two incorrect reports and commissioners found flagrant violations of the law,” he said. “In this case, we have ‘upteen’ reports — none of which were correct.”
Shoda said that it would be unfair not to also refer Ing’s case for prosecution.
“The level or the number of violations is astounding basically,” said Shoda. “Every single report is incorrect.”
However, other commissioners were reluctant to go that far, noting the potentially fatal consequences for Ing’s political career.
The complaint against Ing included 31 counts. Commission staff found that Ing failed to disclose $87,559.89 in expenditures, or about 62 percent of the total amount of spending reflected in Ing’s bank statements, which staff subpoenaed. Only one report has since been correctly amended, staff said. Ing was also found to have failed to disclose $28,915.72 in contributions. The commission is giving him 120 days to correct all inaccuracies in his reports.
Ing, 29, apologized during the hearing and said that the past mistakes were not intentional and could be attributed, in part, to his youth.