Today marked the first day of a hearing on Neldon “AZD” Mamuad’s Maui Mayoral candidacy in Second Circuit Court Judge Peter Cahill’s courtroom. Mamuad, the founder of the popular MAUIWatch Facebook page and a former county Liquor Commissioner and radio personality, had wanted to run for mayor, but County Clerk Danny Mateo voided that when it was revealed that Mamuad had not concurrently filed a financial disclosure statement with the rest of his nomination papers.
Eight people testified today, four each for the plaintiff (the County of Maui) and defendant (Mamuad). While it’s impossible to say how things will go at this point, here are some of my random observations from the hearing so far.
• Judge Cahill asked both sides at the beginning to be quick about. He wanted all witnesses to testify today, so tomorrow he could take care of legal arguments and give a ruling.
• Cahill also said he was “very troubled” by the practice of requiring that candidates for public office fill out financial disclosure forms. He even speculated that such a practice could be “unconstitutional.”
• No one–including Evans Smith, Mamuad’s attorney–called or subpoenaed Richard Minatoya, the Maui County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney who filed the objection against Mamuad’s candidacy. Which means on one asked Minatoya why he–who works for the county (which recently paid Mamuad $25,000 to settle a lawsuit over alleged First Amendment/workplace harassment issues) and has in the past donated money to incumbent Mayor Alan Arakawa–decided to scrutinize Mamuad’s paperwork in the first place.
• There was no difference between the form Mamuad used to fill out his Liquor Commissioner financial disclosure form a couple years ago and the one he needed to fill out to run for mayor. Assuming nothing changed for his finances during those years, the forms would have been identical.
• When Mamuad took the stand, he testified that he considered the county elections clerk telling him that he could use his older Liquor Commissioner financial disclosure statement for his nomination as an “official” interaction while the document that he signed in front of her stating that he was filing a new financial disclosure form concurrently with the rest of his paperwork was “a mere formality.”
• Mamuad initially handed in his nomination papers at 4pm on June 3, an hour before the deadline. But election clerks soon realized that Mamuad did not get his paperwork notarized. So Mamuad went upstairs to the office of Councilman Don Guzman–who Mamuad recently worked for as a part-time aide–and asked him to notarize it. Mamuad then returned the paperwork to the Clerk’s Office at 4:21pm, but then they discovered that Guzman had signed it, but not stamped it. Still, they accepted it.
• Mamuad’s defense was basically that an elections clerk told him that she would get his Liquor Commissioner financial disclosure statement (which is not a public document) from the Maui County Board of Ethics and attach it to his nomination papers, whereas the clerk testified that she told Mamuad that he would have to get that form as well as change the first page of his nomination papers to reflect that he wasn’t filing a new disclosure form.
• Judge Cahill expressed considerable skepticism when deputy Corporation Counsel Caleb Rowe called a secretary from his own office to the stand (she’s also a secretary for the Board of Ethics) but allowed her to testify on the process of filing financial disclosure forms in boards and commissions as long as Rowe didn’t treat her as an expert.
• Before the trial, I ran into Nelson Waikiki, who recently spent 10 months in prison for fraud and is also running for mayor. After introducing myself, he said, “Oh, you’re with MauiTime? I read what you guys wrote about me. Be careful.” But then I leaned over and whispered to him that, “at least you could fill out the forms to run for mayor. “Ah, brah, that’s easy!” he said.
Court reconvenes on Wednesday, June 25 at 1:30pm. Cahill said he intended to rule on the matter then.
Photo of Neldon Mamuad courtesy his Google+page