A Circuit Court judge today said he was inclined to allow the state Attorney General’s office to subpoena financial records of a non-profit group devoted to Hawaiian issues, including raising funds to provide bail and other support for people opposed to the planned Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
Judge James Ashford, however, had concerns about the scope of the Attorney General’s subpoena and gave attorneys on both sides until Feb. 7 to reach agreement about how much financial information should be disclosed about KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.
During today’s hearing to consider whether to quash the Attorney General’s subpoena of 18 different requests of KAHEA information held by First Hawaiian Bank, Ashford said he was inclined to allow the Attorney General’s office to obtain information regarding nine areas, such as monthly statements, cancelled checks and loan applications.
But Ashford had concerns about other First Hawaiian Bank information sought by the Attorney General’s subpoena, including surveillance photos taken from ATM machines.
While Ashford did not rule on KAHEA’s request to quash the subpoena, his comments represented a victory for the Attorney General’s office, which has faced off against KAHEA in two contested cases that went before the Hawaii Supreme Court over Mauna Kea.
The Attorney General’s office previously issued a subpoena to Hawaiian Airlines seeking the names of people who donated their frequent flyer miles so protesters could join the protest at Mauna Kea; and subpoenaed the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which had provided portable toilets, rubbish collection and other amenities at the protest camp at the base of Mauna Kea Access Road, according to a memorandum filed by KAHEA attorney, Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman.
In nearly 45 minutes of arguments, Wurdeman told Judge Ashford that the subpoena is “unreasonable, oppressive and overly broad” and would have the “chilling effect” of stifling donations to support the TMT protest.
Wurdeman repeatedly called the Attorney General’s effort “a fishing expedition.”