Elle Cochran files complaint against Forward Progress, PRP & Buenconsejo

PRP and its successor organization, Forward Progress (both bankrolled by the Carpenters Union slush fund, Hawaii Carpenters Recovery Market Fund, are yet again the subject of allegations for dirty dealings and illegal actions.

Maui County Councilmember Elle Cochran filed a complaint today with the Campaign Spending Commission against Pacific Resource Partnership (“PRP”), Forward Progress, and former Maui County Council candidate Butch Ka’ala Buenconsejo.  The complaint alleges that Forward Progress and Buenconsejo engaged in illegal campaign coordination during the 2014 election year.  It further alleges that Forward Progress made unauthorized expenditures and contributions to Buenconsejo’s campaign.  The complaint seeks to have fines imposed upon PRP/Forward Progress and its responsible individual directors in an amount three times the illegal expenditures made to Buenconsejo.  It further seeks to ban PRP from organizing or operating as a Super PAC under any name in the State of Hawai‘i.

She’s asking the Campaign Spending Commission to bar “PRP from organizing or operating as a super PAC of any kind in the State of Hawai‘i, including banning the HCRP from creating another super PAC by any other name in the State of Hawai‘i”

The complaint cites evidence of prohibited coordinated activity between Forward Progress and Buenconsejo during the 2014 election year.  The evidence cited includes Buenconsejo’s 2014 campaign calendar identifying mail drop dates for campaign mailers which coincide with Forward Progress mailers smearing Councilmember Cochran.  The campaign calendar shows that Buenconsejo was privy to and coordinated his campaign around the precise dates on which PRP and Forward Progress would be sending out mailers, information not generally known to the public and therefore constituting clear evidence of illegal coordination between Buenconsejo, PRP, and Forward Progress.

Based on substantial evidence of actual coordination, the complaint contends that Forward Progress, while registered as a noncandidate committee, was in fact a candidate committee making illegal and excessive expenditures to and on behalf of Buenconsejo.

“PRP is a repeat offender”, said Bridget Morgan, one of Ms. Cochran’s attorneys.  “Although they have been fined in the past, made to publically apologize and disband Super PACs previously operating under various names, they continue to make a mockery of campaign laws.”  With the evidence of illegal coordination at hand, Ms. Cochran believes she is obligated to seek to put a stop to PRP’s misconduct in the State of Hawai‘i once and for all.

The complaint reads like a political thriller with Cochran’s office following clues and a cast including a double-dealing employee and sign stealing that appeared to trace back to Forward Progress officials. Read the complaint here.

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