Dancing with the devil – money and politics in Hawaiʻi’

I’m hoping Congressman Kai Kahele does in fact run to be Hawaiʻi’s next governor. We should be so lucky.

As a former Kauai Councilmember, State Senator, and Majority Leader, I’ve seen lots of politicians come and go. I can say without reservation that Kahele is someone we can count on, someone who shares our collective values, and someone who will go to the wall to protect the ʻāina and support working men and women across all Hawaiʻi.

I’ve worked closely in the past with L.G. Josh Green (when he was in the Senate), former Mayor Caldwell (when he was Majority Leader in the House), and with Congressman Kai Kahele. While we have met briefly in the past, I do not know former First Lady Vickie Cayetano well at all.

Am I concerned about the recent dust-up regarding “proxy voting” and the fact that he is a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines and sitting on the Transportation Committee?

Not really.

Attending meetings remotely and voting remotely has been the norm in Hawaiʻi for the past two years. Building relationships with lobbyists in DC is certainly not something I see as a priority and as we all know, this too can be done via Zoom.

I’d much rather see our Representatives hanging here in the islands listening to regular people talking about real issues rather than schmoozing at swanky DC restaurants with lobbyists, big funders, and lifetime politicians.

When comparing the votes and actions of CD2 Representative Kai Kahele who spends much of his time in Hawaiʻi, with CD1 Representative Ed Case who is embedded in DC full-time – Most of us I believe will agree that Kahele’s votes and actions win hands-down over those of the self-identified blue dog Ed Case.

As to a pilot sitting on the transportation committee: So long as there is no direct conflict or personal benefit and the employer relationship is disclosed, don’t we want people with real experience sitting on these committees? Are the critics saying that no doctor should sit on the health committee and no farmer on the agricultural committee?

Let’s cut to the chase. These political hits don’t happen by accident. These stories are more often than not, planted by opposing candidates and/or their related SuperPacs. No doubt they are deemed newsworthy and accurate by the publishers, but the stories are almost always instigated by political operatives.

This is big money and big development trying to keep Kai Kahele out of the governor’s race.

They know he won’t dance. They know he has already cost Alexander & Baldwin $60 plus million dollars when he wouldn’t play their game in the East Maui Water issue. They know he is the strongest voice of all the gubernatorial contenders on protecting Red Hill, and that his default position is to protect the āina and the people.

No. Kahele won’t dance and those with the money are scared he might actually win.

Do you remember what the Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP) SuperPac did to former Governor Ben Cayetano in the 2012 Honolulu Mayor’s race?

They spent $3.6 million and shredded him in the media day after day raising questions about his personal integrity. It was so sleazy that he took them to court and actually won a defamation lawsuit against them. But of course, it was too late and the election was over.

Now, do you remember that another PRP-related Super PAC “Be Change Now” supported Josh Green’s election to Lieutenant Governor with over $1.1 million?

And exactly who is the Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP)? From their website “We represent the Hawaiʻi Regional Council of Carpenters, the largest construction union in the state, and over 240 diverse contractors…We’re the backbone of Hawaii’s construction industry.”

Just a tad more history. Immediately after winning the LG race, Green hired a top PRP/Carpenters Union insider to be his chief of staff.

Read Green’s recent affordable housing piece and you will see that 3 of his 10 suggestions are PRP talking points – fast track development, eliminate red tape, streamline the process. In other words, eliminate the Land Use Commission, reduce community input, and weaken environmental protections (though he says not).

Actually, the story and the speculation now get a bit more convoluted. PRP attacked Cayetano to ensure that Caldwell would win because Cayetano was unabashedly anti-rail. Then PRP swung behind Green to defeat former Senator Jill Tokuda in the LG race. Now both candidates who PRP has strongly supported, Green and Caldwell – are running against each other.

So who is PRP supporting for Governor?

Well, we know for sure that it’s not Kai Kahele.

Because he doesn’t dance.

And that’s why I like him.

Note: Since writing this on April 29th, Kirk Caldwell has dropped out of the race and Kahele has officially entered it.

Gary Hooser

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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2 Responses to Dancing with the devil – money and politics in Hawaiʻi’

  1. Frank says:

    You know, Kai’s campaigns weren’t funded by his aunties cuz they love him so much. Until we get voter owned elections it’s just about who’s pockets are being lined, not if someone’s pockets are being lined.

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