The City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee today voted 7-1 to recommend that city taxpayers foot the bill for private attorneys to represent city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro in his defense against a petition seeking to remove him from his elective office.
The vote was 7-1 with Councilman Ikaika Anderson the lone “no” vote. But besides Anderson’s objection, five other members voted yes with reservations. They were Council members Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan, Ann Kobayashi, Kymberly Pine and Heidi Tsuneyoshi.
The amount of the payment to retain the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon to represent Kaneshiro was not immediately disclosed.
Anderson told his colleagues that he did not feel comfortable voting for Kaneshiro’s outside attorneys in the matter.
“In examining the facts before us … I have come to my own conclusion that it is quite possible that the prosecutor and deputy prosecutors perhaps decided to take illegal actions on their own accord, and I’m not comfortable with the city providing legal representation, especially with outside counsel, at this point in time,” Anderson said.
Committee Chairman Ron Menor, however, said city attorneys advised Council members that were legally obligated to provide legal representation for Kaneshiro because the allegations against him deal with his performance as prosecutor.
Menor added, however, that “I concur with you that this is a not a pleasant and easy … recommendation to make.”
Kaneshiro, through the prosecutor’s public information officer, said that as a policy, he does not comment on pending litigation.
The petition is being led by Honolulu businessman Tracy Yoshimura.
Yoshimura’s petition seeks to have the court remove Kaneshiro because of a federal investigation involving him as well as several of his top deputies.