Two companies pushing for expanded geothermal drilling and development appear to be the primary forces behind the attempt by legendary prep football coach, Cal Lee, to unseat longtime Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and former chair, Haunani Apoliona.
Innovations Development Group Inc. and an affiliate, Honua Group LLC, which advocate development of geothermal resources on behalf of Native Hawaiians, have been the backbone of Lee’s campaign, according to reports filed with the Campaign Spending Commission.
With early and continued campaign support from the two companies, Lee has raised $71,019.83 as of October 22, compared to Apoliona’s total of $53,894.19.
Campaign reports show that for more than a month after Lee filed papers to run for Apoliona’s at-large seat, Honua Group and Innovations paid all of the campaign’s expenses, most of which were carried on the campaign’s books as loans.
The two companies paid to reserve the internet domain name, Votecallee.com, rent a post office box, hire a public relations consultant, order campaign signs from a company in Los Angeles, and fly them back to Honolulu, and then run Lee’s first campaign ads in the Star-Advertiser.
As the campaign developed, funds from the two companies went to pay for fundraising expenses, interisland travel, more campaign signs, and other items.
Lee’s expense report, filed with the Campaign Spending Commission, lists $10,988.09 in expenditures made by Honua Group on Lee’s behalf. Innovations Development added another $8,771.93, according to the disclosure reports.
The two companies are reported to have made 47 separate loans to Lee’s campaign between June 15 and October 17, 2012, with a total value of $24,735.79.
Lee’s campaign reported repaying $4,113.45 by the October 22 cut-off date of the most recent campaign finance report.
In addition to paying expenses for the campaign, Lee received direct contributions from Innovations Development office manager, Ryan Matsumoto ($3,475) and corporate treasurer, Nainoa Kuna ($2,500).
Financial advisor Lee Erwin, who is listed as a member of IDG’s management team, is also the treasurer of Lee’s campaign organization.
Kuna is also co-manager of Honua Group with Roberta Cabral, state business registration records show. Cabral, in turn, is a director and “Senior Advisor” of Innovations Development. Innovations Development’s management team also includes CEO Pat Brandt and community advisor Mililani Trask.
Trask has recently been active speaking out in support of the controversial Public Lands Development Corporation in various public meetings and in published statements. Geothermal projects could be among those that would benefit from exemptions to zoning and environmental regulations available through the PLDC.
The two companies also made substantial contributions to OHA candidates Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey ($5,000 each), while Honua Group contributed $3,500 to OHA trustee Robert Lindsey.