“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” – Karl Marx
by Andrew Walden
After blowing their first attempt to interfere in the Republican Senate primary, Hawaii Democrats are trying again.
On September 21, just three days after news of Republican factionalism reached the press, 81-year-old former State Senator John Carroll suddenly switched parties—again—and announced his candidacy for the Republican US Senate nomination.
The announcement was Carroll’s second of the year. Back in May, Carroll, a proud associate of Larry Mehau, had announced a Senate campaign—as a Libertarian. A May 21 news release trumpeted: “Long time GOP stalwart and former legislature John Carroll announced that he felt himself more a libertarian than anything else and would seek the LP nomination for the US senate seat being vacated by Dan Akaka.”
But that was before Democrats sensed the chance to create even more mischief than Republican factions were creating for themselves.
The campaign manager of Carroll’s new Republican Senate campaign is a familiar name—Keith Rollman. In a scathing 2010 column, David Shapiro explains:
Keith Rollman has been a shadowy figure in local politics for much of the last 25 years, a behind-the-scenes operator whose job is to draw attention to his candidate, not himself.
…when he’s surfaced publicly in the political arena, it’s usually been to be accused of negative campaigning.
His flair for the negative has now made Rollman a highly visible issue in the increasingly bitter governor’s race between Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie after the Hannemann campaign admitted that Rollman was responsible for the Atomic Monkey website that made crude anonymous attacks on Abercrombie….
Rollman defends his rough-and-tumble style with a quote that originated with Lenin and was passed to him by his Hawaii political mentor, saying “Frank Fasi taught me that an unchallenged lie becomes the truth.”…
… Rollman became a paid media consultant to Hannemann’s 2004 campaign for mayor. Ian Lind posted Campaign Spending Commission records indicating he received payments from the campaign of about $75,000.
After Hannemann narrowly beat Bainum, he hired Rollman to an $85,000-a-year job in February 2005 as director of the city Office of Economic Development, an appointment that was sharply criticized by Pacific Business News.
PBN said in an editorial: “Rollman has bounced around in a variety of tech jobs over the past decade and served as a media adviser to Hannemann’s campaign. Since he has no apparent experience in economic development, Rollman’s appointment to an $85,000 job seems to us a business-as-usual payback to a campaign worker. We expected better of Hannemann.”
Pro-Rail activist Rollman, writing as “AtomicMonkey” just three months ago, points out that Carroll is a “dupe” and a “fringe candidate.” In a rant about cyber-trickster Eric Ryan, Rollman explains:
One of (Eric) Ryan’s previous clients, the fringe Republican candidate, John Carroll, got the “treatment” a couple of years ago. Carroll’s website, administrated by Ryan, mysteriously morphed into an anti-Carroll hate screed after an apparent falling out between the two. “CitizensForCarroll.com” (now removed) became a pseudo-official-looking, campaign spending commission complaint portal listing Mr. Carroll’s crimes (real and imagined). The motivation was a combination of unpaid invoices owed to Ryan and that pesky little matter of Carroll’s office being investigated by the police and FBI for cyber crimes involving forged email. Seems that someone inside Carroll’s office, then the hub of the Anti-Mufi, Anti-Rail faction that had been banished by Cliff Slater, was running a dirty tricks operation. Inflammatory emails purported to originate from Hannemann appointees were traced back to Carroll’s office and his “tenant” Eric Ryan.
Before the shit hit the fan, Ryan and Carroll, the self-anointed champions of all things anti-rail, were knocking themselves out to make the phony accusations stick to Hannemann and one of his advisors, Keith Rollman. Venomous Ryan-authored websites and press releases sprouted like poison mushrooms, and lawyerly letters were penned by Carroll to the Mayor demanding the firing of the falsely accused “conspirators.”
“Now that this evidence has surfaced and we know who’s involved, you need to do the right thing.” wrote Carroll….
But, the tide had turned. There was a lot of “evidence” mounting alright, but it wasn’t the sort that Carroll found comforting. The Hannemann campaign and Rollman clearly had no part in hatching the offensive Website or phony forged emails.
At some point during the investigation, Carroll slowly became aware that he had been duped and had foolishly cultivated a tank of political piranhas in his office and began to retreat. At this point Ryan was apparently asked to leave, and began his obsessive anti-John Carroll campaign….
It is standard procedure for Republican candidates to be allowed use of GOP HQ for their announcement. But Carroll’s September 21 announcement used this protocol in a transparent attempt to play on factional divisions by creating the illusion of support from embattled GOP Chairman Jonah Kaauwai:
I particularly want to thank Keith Rollman for accepting the daunting task of winning this election to the UNITED STATES SENATE!!!
I wish to thank Jonah Kauauai (sic) for allowing us to be here at Republican Party Headquarters. Jonah has done a good job in defining our Party's principles and values. His ability to get a resolution passed at the convention, to oppose the Akaka Bill is both commendable and remarkable.
Even with Rollman’s “flair” behind him, it is doubtful that Carroll will achieve any traction. Running against Duke Aiona for the 2010 GOP Gubernatorial nomination, Carroll received only 4.5% of the primary vote.