Politics

Federal Complaint Filed Against Former Takai Campaign Treasurer

Nearly 18 months after congressman's death, campaign treasurer still making almost $6,000 a month

The family of the late Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, said it supports the efforts of campaign treasurer Dylan Beesley, who is accused of misusing Takai’s campaign funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Washington, D.C., campaign finance watchdog group has lodged a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against the campaign treasurer of former Rep. Mark Takai.

In a 13-page complaint paper, the Campaign Legal Center alleged that Dylan Beesley “illegally converted the late Congressman’s leftover campaign funds to personal use.”

FEC regulations “anticipate a six-month winding-down period” for a former lawmaker’s account, but nearly a year and a half after Takai’s death, “there are few disbursements that would suggest the committee is winding down,” the complaint said, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

“These facts suggest that Beesley is not doing much of anything to justify earning $5,759.16 per month,” it said.

Beesley was Takai’s campaign manager and said that after Takai died of pancreatic cancer he became campaign treasurer at the request of the family, Hawaii News Now reported.

In addition to paying himself the equivalent of nearly $70,000 a year, Beesley has also used Takai’s campaign fund to pay his company, Lanakila Strategies. Together, the payments amounted to around $104,000. The campaign fund had roughly $309,000 left as of the end of December.

The monthly payments of nearly $6,000 to Beesley “seemed incredibly excessive, because it’s not clear that Beesley is doing much of anything to actually earn that money,” attorney Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at Campaign Legal Center, told the Star-Advertiser.

Beesley defended the arrangement in a statement.

“I became treasurer at the request of the late Congressman Takai’s family, and I have done my job with their support. Any claim to the contrary is false, and anyone invoking Mark’s name or his legacy for their own political gain is unconscionable,” he said.

Takai’s family has continued to support Beesley as chatter of corruption surrounding his handling of the late congressman’s campaign fund continues to swirl.

“He has worked to help us to focus on the next steps so that we could close the campaign down and create a foundation in Mark’s name and use it for good causes here in Hawaii,” Gary Kai, the father of Takai’s widow, Sami, said in a statement. “Payments to him during this period were authorized. … We want to express our gratitude to Dylan for his help and support.”

Beesley is now campaign manager for Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, who is running for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District seat. That seat is open, as Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is leaving office to run for governor.

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