Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Hawaii's 'Citizens for a Better Way' isn't a 'Citizens' Group After-all

Elizabeth "Liz" Hata-Watanabe:
She's not what she claims...
Citizens for a Better Way (CFBW)  isn't a grassroots "citizens" group at all.  Rather, it was organized in April 2011 as a for-profit limited liability company with involvement of a self-identified "entrepreneur" and "philanthropist" whose success and ethics are questionable at best.

Citizens for a Better Way, L.L.C.
CFBW showed up on the Hawaiian political scene during 2011, established with support from the Capitol Consultants of Hawaii lobbying firm, as the so-called 'citizens' champion for proposed legislation that would legalize gambling in Hawaii and approve development and operation of a Waikiki casino.  However, records on file with the Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs indicate the group is actually  Citizens for a Better Way, L.L.C., a for profit, Limited Liability Company, incorporated in Hawaii and registered with the state on April Fool's Day (4.01.11)!

Elizabeth Hata Watanabe, a self identified entrepreneur and philanthropist who subsequently filed bankruptcy, is designated in official documents as the only member of the LLC but not liable for the debts, obligations, and liabilities of the company. She is also reportedly also LLC's manager and agent of record.

Note: it would appear that the mailing address and organizer's (Watanabe) address as reported on the Articles of Organization are both P.O. Boxes. A Google search of the third address included on the Articles of Organization and reportedly that of the Agent of Record (98 751 Kuahao Pl., Pearl City, Hawaii, 96782) suggests the address is also shared with Buzz's Original Steak House (a dba for Bosh Ltd.), Transouth Financial, Associates Financial, CitiFinancial and Grace Bible Church Pearlside.  Perhaps Watanabe failed to provide a Suite number, or another P.O. Box or some space belonging to someone else.

Scam to Avoid Disclosing Funders? 
By organizing as a for-profit company, CFBW can avoid disclosing its funding sources -- at least temporarily. Political or grassroots committee have to disclose contributors. However, if CFBW was really organized for purposes that are primarily political or advocacy in nature or if it turns out the nature of its activities are primarily such, then Watanabe, Radcliffe and any others involved in this scam are certain to become the focus of investigations by Hawaii's Attorney General, the IRS and/or the FBI.

Watanabe Bankruptcy
If CFBW is in fact a for-profit entity of which Watanabe is the manager and only member, some mention of Citizen's for a Better Way, L.L.C., would likely be included in the disclosures Watanabe has made to the federal court in the matter of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (Case: 11-01679)  filed 6.14.11 as Elizabeth C. Watanabe (aka Elizabeth Hata Watanabe) 91-209 Kupiapia Place, Ewa Beach, Oahu, 96706, with counsel from attorney Philip W. Miyoshi.  Watanabe established CFBW about ten weeks before filing bankruptcy.

March-April 2011 Lobbying Expenses: $40,000
CFBW, the limited liability company, is required to disclose funds spent on political and lobbying activity. It did report on 5.31.11 that it had spent nearly $40,000 on "Advertising Media" activities during March & April 2011. Clearly that didn't come from Watanabe's personal bank account. Last Spring, CFBW established a website, Facebook page and YouTube presence.  It has produced and distributed three videos, at least two of which have or will air on cable TV in Honolulu before the end of the year.  News stories last Spring reported CFBW was behind robocalls (pre-recorded, automated telephone messages) to Hawaii voters encouraging them to call their legislators to urge legislators to cast pro-gambling, pro-casino votes.

Citizens for a Better Way, L.L.C. - 2011 Organization Statement

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