Kirk Caldwell will be sworn in as Honolulu's next mayor on January 2, 2013
Kirk Caldwell

BY JIM DOOLEY – Top executives and employees of the lead consulting firm on Honolulu’s delayed $5.2 billion rail project have given more than $26,000 in political donations to pro-rail mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell, an analysis of campaign records shows.

The donations, from individuals at the Parsons Brinckerhoff engineering firm, are a tiny fraction of the $1.5 million in contributions given to the Caldwell campaign this year, but are the largest cluster of donations from executives at one company, according to reports filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Top officers of the Parsons firm – president and chief executive George J. Pierson, global chief operations officer Gregory Kelly, and chief of staff Michael Fisher – each gave the maximum-allowable $4,000 to the Caldwell campaign on September 25, according to campaign files. (The Caldwell campaign incorrectly listed Pierson’s first name as Gregory.)

Company director David McAlister gave the same amount on the same day, while other officials and employees donated the same or lesser amounts to Caldwell since then.

Company officials, including director of corporate communications Judith Cooper (who gave $500 to the Caldwell campaign), were not available for comment late today on the East Coast.

Parsons Brinckerhoff has received some $469 million to date in non-bid city consulting contracts for rail-related work.

Ten executives at another rail consulting firm, InfraConsult LLC, gave another $17,000 to the Caldwell campaign in the past two months, records show.

InfraConsult’s three managing partners have given just under $11,000 to Caldwell’s campaign this year.

The company has received $82 million in non-bid rail consulting contracts, according to the city’s rail project website.

Included in its duties is lobbying for the rail project in Washington, D.C.

George J. Pierson, president & CEO, Parsons Brinckerhoff (source: pbworld.com)

Support for Caldwell by Parsons, InfraConsult and other rail contractors is not surprising since the other candidate in the mayor’s election, former Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano, is an avowed opponent of the massive elevated rail project.

Cayetano is a co-plaintiff in a federal court lawsuit that today won a major decision that will result in a lengthy new delay of the already-stalled project (see related story).

Construction work on the huge undertaking has already been stopped by another adverse court decision.

The consultant donations were revealed in financial reports filed Monday.

Caldwell supporters have waged a multi-million dollar advertising campaign against Cayetano that has depicted the former governor as a politician who awards consultant contracts based on campaign contributions.

Last month, Cayetano filed a defamation and libel lawsuit against Pacific Resource Partnership, financial backer of the political action committee that has financed the ad campaign against him.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com