Hawaii Senate Dem Majority Leader Gets 3 Years in Prison for Bribery
September 21, 2022
Another day, another corrupt Democrat has been caught breaking the law.
A prominent Hawaii Democrat was sentenced to 40 months in prison for taking bribes in exchange for shaping legislation while in office.
Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud earlier this year, admitting in court that he accepted bribes from a Hawaii business owner in exchange for shaping legislation that would benefit a company involved in publicly financed cesspool conversion projects.
English must surrender to authorities and begin serving his sentence on Aug. 16.
“English peddled the power and influence of his position as a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader to enrich himself and betray the trust bestowed upon him by those he was elected to serve,” U.S. prosecutors said in a sentencing memo urging the judge to send him to prison for three-and-a-half years.
Prosecutors argued that the sentence needed to send a “stern and lasting message” that corruption of elected officials will be punished.
“I hope this serves as a message to everyone in government that there can be no tolerance for unethical conduct,” House Speaker Scott Saiki said in a statement issued after U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced English.
“As the investigation progressed it became astoundingly clear that no matter the legislative ask, the answer from English would almost certainly be ‘yes.’ English’s behavior signaled that it was systemically normal for him to accept and indeed expect, financial benefits in return for legislative favors,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
She also imposed a $100,000 fine and ordered that he be subjected to three years of supervision after he serves his time, according to English’s attorney, Richard Sing, who declined to comment on the sentence.
English began communicating with Person A about cesspools in 2019 and accepted cash and hotel rooms from Person A totaling about $18,000, the memo by Sing said.
Sing also wrote that English, who represented east Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, “was a compassionate and dedicated advocate for the rural communities and individuals he represented,” including Native Hawaiians.
English, who announced he was retiring last year due to health issues, praised former President Barack Obama not too long ago.
“Hawaiians love Obama. He is one of us — he understands what aloha is, he understands what mana is,” English said.
And the Democratic Party may just be getting started:
Choy is a prolific donor, as are his immediate family members and business associates. Choy, his family members, and his employees from various companies have donated more than $356,000 to political campaigns since 2014, according to campaign finance data.
Of that, Choy has contributed more than $160,000 to the elections and reelections of numerous Democrats.
Choy himself has donated to 55 campaigns — including 29 sitting lawmakers — since 2014. Money has gone to former Gov. Neil Abercrombie and current Gov. David Ige. He has most recently contributed to former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s campaign for governor, and to Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s campaign.