Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Waikiki Casino Advocates: An Unlikely Coincidence or In Cahoots?

Radcliffe & So-called Citizens Group Both Report 
Expenditures of $39,093.10

Is it mere coincidence or in cahoots that Citizens for a Better Way and Radcliffe & Associates both reported expenditures totaling $39,093.10 for the period ended April 30, 2011?

Background
John Radcliffe, a lobbyist for gambling interests and vice president with Capitol Consultants of Hawaii, re-established his defunct Radcliffe & Associates in February 2011.  In April 2011, he switched his representation of Marketing Resource Group (MRG) from Capitol Consultants of Hawaii to Radcliffe & Associates. MRG is the Lansing-based PR/Political firm representing Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr., founders of Detroit's MotorCity Casino. Those casino syndicators have pursued plans to develop a Waikiki casino. Radcliffe has represented MRG and its Detroit gambling clients for the better part of the last decade. Records reviewed by TVT, suggest that MRG was the only  Radcliffe & Associates client during the period ended April 30, 2011.  For the period ending April 30, 2011, Radcliffe & Associates reported "other disbursements" of $39,093.10 (see disclosure below).  Radcliffe did not disclose who received those payments nor has he disclosed where the nearly $40,000 he paid came from.

Coincidentally, or not, in April 2011, a so-called "citizens" advocacy group supporting plans by Radcliffe's clients to build a Waikiki casino appeared out of nowhere on the political landscape.  A woman with a questionable past, Liz Watanabe, was said to be the organizer of Citizens for a Better Way (CFBW).  However, it's clear that Radcliffe and his associates had their hand in the creation of the group.  Radcliffe has denied to reporters any role in organizing, managing or funding the organization. He clearly mislead Honolulu's press corps. Among other things, an associate at Radcliffe's Capitol Consultants lobbying firm established and owns the CFBW website.  In April, CFBW launched and reportedly paid for a sophisticated lobbying campaign, including robo-calls to voters, designed to urge Hawaii's legislators to approve the stand-alone Waikiki casino scheme promoted by Radcliffe's and his clients. The campaign was very similar to other political advertising campaigns launched by Marketing Resource Group in various communities where the Detroit casino syndicators have interests. Nothing in Watanabe's background suggests she has any experience or familiarity with such sophisticated paid political advertising efforts

And coincidentally, or not, CFWB also reports spending $39,093.10 during the period ended April 30, 2012 (see disclosure below).  It's not clear who received the payments from Watanabe/CFBW, or where she got the nearly $40,000 she reports spending.  What is clear is that Watanabe, who filed an individual $387,000 bankruptcy just weeks later, didn't use her own money.

Did Radcliffe provide Watanabe with nearly $40,000?  Did Watanabe pay Marketing Resource Group (MRG) or its usual vendors to carry out the political advertising campaign?  Where did Radcliffe & Associates come by funds it spent?  Since Marketing Resource Group is seemingly the only Radcliffe & Associates client, it would make sense that the funds expended by Radcliffe came from MRG.  However, MRG only disclosed paying Radcliffe $11,890.21 during the period ended April 30, 2011?

You be the judge: was it a coincidence that both Radcliffe & Associates and Citizens for a Better Way both reported spending exactly $39,093.10 or are John Radcliffe/Marketing Resource group in cahoots with Liz Watanabe?  If you believe they are in cahoots, then you should urge the Hawaii Ethics Commission and/or Hawaii's Attorney General to look into the matter because clearly they've participated in a conspiracy.

Official Disclosure Filings
Radcliffe Assoc Lobbying Expenses - Period Ended 2011.04.30

CFBW Lobbying Expenditures - Period Ended 2011.04.30

1 comment:

Timothy Thompson said...

Looks like we got another case of government officials playing poker with the local populace. Are they out of the top already?

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