THE CORRUPTION CONTINUES: New Financial Scandals Threaten to Topple New Hawaii GOP State Chair
Honolulu, Hawaii – As of this past Saturday night, the selection of a new state chair – the sixth chair since February – for the Hawaii Republican Party (HRP) is now over and the state party now has a chairperson to last through the 2024 election. Or will she? In a fast-moving case of buyer’s remorse, a growing number of party officers who supported the winning candidate at Saturday night’s election held at HRP headquarters and via Zoom have contacted HIRA News since they are having second thoughts after learning about the fast-growing campaign finance scandal which threatens to put the party into even deeper debt.
While Cheatin’ Sheila Walker may have lost the close and hard fought campaign with just 25 votes to Tamara McKay’s 31 votes on the party’s governing ‘State Committee’ (no thanks to the hamfisted attempts by self-destructive interim chair Clueless Laura Nakanelua and her RINO comrades to rig the outcome in favor of Walker), HRP’s finance chair turned state chair McKay has quickly embroiled the state GOP in a scandal already under investigation by state attorney general Anne Lopez and the Honolulu city prosecutor Steven Alm, in addition to lawyers and staffers at the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission (CSC).
That’s a really serious problem for a party which ended up $70,000+ in debt following McKay’s tumultuous two-year tenure on HRP’s ‘Executive Committee’ – during which time McKay reportedly did and said absolutely nothing in the face of unauthorized spending, phony bookkeeping, and bogus treasurer’s reports; the very fiscally reckless circumstances which led to the party’s massive (and growing) debt problem.
The “revive and thrive” fundraiser, which was apparently envisioned by McKay as an opportunity to impress potential State Committee voters before announcing her campaign for state chair, was operated illegally as an under-the-table, off-the-radar fundraiser which clearly violates state laws designed to ensure transparency in the world of campaign finance. McKay, the sixth individual since the start of 2023 to lead the troubled party, knowingly failed to register the event as required by law with the CSC before the event was to take place.
Yes, state law requires that all political fundraisers be registered in advance with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission in furtherance of transparency. Voters have a right to know which politicians, which political parties, and which special interest groups are holding fundraisers, along with when, where, and how much tickets sell for, and who is paying for the fundraiser (and who is benefitting from the proceeds). McKay knows this registration is required and has done it before, such as she did for this GOP fundraiser last year:
Now, there’s no question that McKay knows she must notify the CSC in advance of a fundraiser, that it was her responsibility and that she already knew how to do so.
Well, the event’s organizer, HRP finance chair (now HRP State Chair) Tamara McKay, broke that law. Hawaii Revised Statute §11-342:
Following interim chair Laura Nakanelua’s takeover of the vacant state chair position (departed by Lohi Goodwin who assumed power briefly after the resignation of Tom Dilhouse), Nakanelua quickly moved to fire Brett Kulbis as chairman of HRP’s powerful rules committee. However, despite their frosty relationship, Nakanelua opted to retain HRP finance chair Tamara McKay in that fundraising position, as McKay had already taken charge of the ‘revive and thrive’ event and the pressure was building to pay HRP’s $70,000 in unpaid bills. As the law reads: “The person in charge of the fundraiser shall file the notice with the commission prior to the fundraiser.” That ‘person’ is the “Event Organizer”: HRP’s new state chair Tamara McKay.
To be sure, at this point in 2023, there are three different ‘noncandidate committees’ which have given notice to the CSC about fundraisers since the last election: Hawaii Democrats, Hawaii Republicans, and RINO Women on Oahu. All five of the group’s registered fundraising events have been held in 2023. Two fundraisers in question were organized by HRP: the “Kuhio Day” fundraiser on March 26th and the Oahu county GOP’s “painting party” on July 22nd. HOWEVER, as you can see, HRP’s August 19th “Revive and Thrive” fundraiser is nowhere to be found as a legally registered fundraiser. That’s because the event was kept secret from the CSC and from the public. A deliberate and knowing violation of §11-342.
Under Tamara McKay’s, HRP knowingly failed to file a notice of this fundraiser before the HRP microfundraising event and that failure continues to this very day, nearly one month later.
Just ask RINO and fake ‘hate crime’ victim Andria Tupola about the $1,150 fine her campaign committee was forced by the CSC to pay for the exact same violation. Just like HRP finance chair (now state chair) McKay with last month’s HRP event, Tupola didn’t bother to register her secret February 2021 fundraiser in advance with the CSC. It wasn’t until HIRA News alerted the CSC about Tupola’s secret fundraiser that Tupola finally complied with the law . . . and was fined $1,150 for her violation of §11-342. By the time the civil component of this lawbreaking was adjudicated, Tupola belatedly registered her February fundraiser at the end of September that same year.
That’s right. Tupola’s fundraiser, held ostensibly to shakedown the rail industry and other special interests (which enjoy being showered with taxpayer money by Tupola and her equally ‘generous’ big spending pals on the Honolulu City Council), was held in February. But the suddenly pro-rail councilmember didn’t get around to notifying the CSC about the fundraiser for seven months. SHE WAS FINED $1,150, as shown in this never before published screenshot from her campaign finance report on file with the CSC.
That’s the price for failing to uphold transparency and failure to obey the law.
But that’s the least of the fines that HRP needs to worry about, because that’s not Tamara McKay’s only problem.
The stated goal of HRP’s August 2023 ‘revive and thrive’ fundraiser was to sell 200 tickets at $75 each and raise $15,000 for HRP. One week before the event, only 15 tickets had been sold. Then, on August 8th, the Maui wildfire ravaged Lahaina. With ticket sales for McKay’s HRP event stalling and the fundraiser about to become a total flop, the Lahaina wildfire disaster hit the news and sparked an idea. This tragedy gave McKay and her finance committee the notion to adopt a predatory fundraising strategy which exploited the public sympathy for Maui wildfire’s devastation to put money in HRP’s coffers.
The problem is that this clever rebranding of HRP’s fundraiser into a Maui Wildfire Relief event is completely illegal. State regulated political parties, operating as ‘noncandidate committees’ are prevented from raising monies and then spending monies on unauthorized expenditures which are unrelated to the political mission of the committee. The rules are even tighter for political parties than for candidates. So when McKay promoted last month’s party fundraiser with the promise that “a portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Maui Wildfire Relief”, that placed HRP in the position of engaging in fraud – using an illegal tactic to sell political fundraiser tickets. Sources at the CSC tell HIRA News that HRP treasurer Jodi Beaty inquired ahead of time with CSC about the legality of using this event to raise money for HRP and for Maui and was told “not legal”. Clearly, HRP went ahead anyway and exploited the tragedy to sell tickets which weren’t selling well before the rebranding.
Suddenly, it’s no longer a mystery why HRP’s leaders attempted to keep a lid on the illegality by forging ahead with an under-the-radar, unregistered fundraiser in the hopes that law enforcement would never find out. Such lawbreaking constitutes a deliberate and knowing violation of §11-342. This gets into felony territory . . . but more about felonies later this week.
Ultimately, just 50 people showed up which brought in a little over $6,000 . . . most or all of which could very well be seized from HRP by law enforcement agencies to cover fines. Even if the rumors are true and that HRP has disbursed some of this money to the Maui County GOP for charitable purposes, the party is stuck with having illegally raised monies from this unlawfully unregistered and fraudulent event.
In her campaign speech on Saturday night, McKay boasted about the fundraiser, stating: “We showed what we could do on a small scale . . . We raised $5,000 for the party and we raised over $1,200 to give to Maui county.” Members of HRP’s State Committee probably don’t recall approving any expenditures from this event because they didn’t. Just like they didn’t approve laws being casually broken by rookie party leaders desperate to show that they ‘know’ how to deal with a desperate financial situation . . . and hoping they wouldn’t get caught.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the campaign finance violations and other laws broken by HRP in just the last few months. In the days ahead, HIRA News will present Part Two of the self-inflicted Tamara McKay financial scandal and related lawbreaking which will consume time and money and energy from HRP – time and money and energy which was supposed to be put into ending the dominance of Democrats in Hawaii since 1954, 70 years ago next year.
Will the Hawai’i GOP become infamous before Election Day for being led by a criminal? Someone who knowingly broke the law and will soon cost the Hawaii GOP more in BRAND NEW FINES than was raised in its recent fundraiser?? All we can tell you at this point is that Saturday night’s celebration has quickly turned to scandal, as HRP treasurer Jodi Beaty and chairman Tamara McKay are embroiled in more financial scandals than meets the eye. And HRP simply doesn’t have the funds to mount a criminal defense of McKay, Beaty and other implicated officers.
As the focus of a new criminal investigation by the Hawaii Attorney General, the Honolulu Prosecutor and the State Campaign Spending Commission, Ms. McKay’s recent, poorly-attended HRP fundraiser is likely to cost the party more money in fines than the piddly $6,000+ it raised off the backs of Lahaina victims.
The lack of due diligence by the State Committee has everything to do with why Republicans keep losing in Hawaii and why the party is broke and why HRP is getting into legal hot water, right after a shocking $60,000 fine was assessed by the FEC without waking up these sleepy party officers that they need to wake up and pay attention. With debt up to their eyeballs in unpaid property taxes, unpaid maintenance fees, unpaid legal bills, unpaid printing bills and more, top party officers need to wipe the sleep out of their eyes and take a look at the unfolding scandals which are increasing in number, rather than decreasing. Voters and the media are sure to take notice.
When the full picture of wrongdoing and corruption emerges, it’s unlikely that HRP will either ‘revive’ or ‘thrive’ in the wake of Tamara McKay’s questionable leadership and illegal acts, not to mention McKay’s colleagues on HRP’s Executive Committee. Members of HRP’s governing State Committee and the Executive Committee, expected to meet this week, may or may not care about obeying the law. But they definitely need to care about what voters will surely see as reckless disregard for lawbreaking.
As HIRA News pursued this story, McKay told us she has “nothing to hide” and that she’s “very aware of the laws”. Then, threateningly added “But there is liable for lies and slander. Ask CNN.” With facts being facts, HIRA News is more interested in finding out what the liability is for HRP when the misdeeds of its officers, such as those of its new chairman and treasurer, end up costing the party a bundle of money as well as goodwill with voters. With one year until the election, we’ll find out soon enough.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO
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