Kim’s friends, employees chip in, Roth maintains strong money lead as election draws nigh

  • Mayoral candidates campaign finance summary for the primary election

Mayor Harry Kim’s reelection campaign is getting by with a little help from his friends. And his employees.

Kim, who limits his campaign contributions to $10 per person, reported just $6,746 in total contributions since Jan. 1 on his most recent report with the state Campaign Spending Commission. Most of that came from donations and loans from his own household.

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But a new political action committee, formed by a longtime friend and county contractor along with Kim’s county secretary, has dumped another $5,026 into the campaign through half-page ads in West Hawaii Today and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. The ad shows a photo of the blue-jean-clad mayor sitting on a hillock, while the text describes him as someone who makes tough decisions, keeps people safe and is committed to the community.

It’s paid for by a newly formed noncandidate committee called Team Hana Hou Harry, chaired by former state legislator and county consultant Andrew Levin, with Martha Rodillas, Kim’s private secretary, as treasurer. Five of the eight contributions came from county department heads, with three other donations from community members, according to the campaign filing.

Kim said he was unaware of the PAC until he saw the ad in the newspaper Wednesday. A traditional PAC, unlike a super PAC, is allowed to coordinate advertising with candidates and donate to candidates’ campaign funds.

“I thought it was really a nice looking ad because of the flower,” Kim said.

Asked if department heads, who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the mayor, might have felt intimidated into chipping in, Kim replied that they shouldn’t because all his appointees are aware that politics don’t play a part in his administration.

“From Day One, every person I’ve hired — they are told, ‘No. 1, there will be no politics,’” Kim said.

Levin and Rodillas agreed the decision to form the committee and contributors’ decisions to donate weren’t related to politics or job security.

“If anybody knew Harry Kim, they would know that that wouldn’t work anyway,” Levin said. “The reason we did this is because we think so highly of Harry Kim. We’ve seen him work.”

“It’s because we see that he makes the tough decisions that he’s faced with. He does his research, he does his homework, he brings the sides together,” Rodillas added.

Levin, who served as executive assistant to Kim during Kim’s previous tenure as mayor, regularly receives $7,500-per-month no-bid 89-day contracts to lobby the state Legislature. Rodillas, as a private secretary, serves at the mayor’s pleasure and is exempt from civil service protections.

Both candidates and noncandidate committees had a Wednesday deadline to file their last reports before the Aug. 8 primary election. If none of the 15 candidates receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will move on to the Nov. 3 general election.

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Other candidates in the crowded field for mayor also reported their campaign contributions Wednesday for the period through July 24.

Mayoral candidate Mitch Roth maintained his commanding lead over donations, adding another $41,191 to his coffers to bring his total to $189,264 while Stacy Higa added $48,475 to raise his total to $129,469. Ikaika Marzo, previously in fourth place in the money field, moved up to third by adding $43,041 to arrive at $88,605, compared to former third place Neil Azevedo’s $60,686.

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