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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Mufi’s Republican Army: The Bush Family Connection
By Andrew Walden @ 9:19 AM :: 19822 Views :: Democratic Party, Ethics, Politicians, Republican Party

by Andrew Walden (UPDATED with additional information August 8, 2010 8PM HST)

For someone seeking the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination, Mufi Hannemann’s campaign sure has a lot of current or former Republicans among its leadership.  And it starts at the top.  Mufi’s personal GOP connections lead straight to the Bush family and go back three decades. 

In the early 1980s, Hannemann abandoned a job in the Ariyoshi administration to run to Washington, DC and work in the Reagan-Bush administration as as a staff assistant to Vice President George H. W. Bush. 

After George W. Bush became President, Michael Moore produced a movie arguing that “Bush is worse than bin-Laden”.  Hawaii Democrats wrote a platform plank calling for impeachment.   Not Hannemann.  He went back to DC; working for the administration of George W. Bush in the US Department of Labor between his loss to Jeremy Harris in the 2000 Honolulu mayoral election and his successful 2004 Mayoral election win. (UPDATE: see supporting information at bottom of page)

That's not all.

Hannemann’s campaign chairman Dean Okimoto is called a “big Dem” by some who know him.  But on April 24, 2006 he contributed $250 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Hannemann campaign has paid $22,500 to Harvey Harlowe Hukari of Political Communications, a San Francisco-based public relations company.  Hukari’s online bio outlines his extensive work on Republican campaigns:  

Direct mail consultant to Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the first Samoan to serve as mayor of a major American city. (2004 & 2008 campaigns)

Engineered the direct mail campaign for the re-election of (Republican) Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi (1988)

General consultant to (Republican) Congresswoman Pat Saiki, the first Republican from Hawaii to serve in the House of Representatives. (1986 & 1988 campaigns)

Created the Republican National Committee's direct mail program in support of the Reagan/Bush '84 campaign.

Created the Republican National Committee's Master Ethnic Surname File - the most commonly occurring surnames in America categorized by ethnicity - for voter contact targeting. Direct mail consultant to (Republican) Congresswoman Patricia Saiki, the first Japanese-American Republican to represent Hawaii; (Republican) Ileana Ros-Lethtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress; Mufi Hannemann of Honolulu, the first Samoan-American to become mayor of a major American city and (Republican) Craig Thomas of Wyoming, the 10,623rd white male to serve in the United States House of Representatives.

Okimoto and Hukari were among six key Hannemann operatives the Abercrombie campaign pointed to as being tied to the famous (or infamous) AtomicMonkey website.  Another, Jeff Coelho, works for Salem Communications, owner of several Christian-oriented radio stations.  On Aug 30, 2008, Coelho gave $207 to Salem's Corporate PAC which in turn gave contributions only to Republican candidates in the 2008 cycle.  Coelho served in 2005-2006 as Mufi's city managing director--the #2 position in the City. Coelho had in 2002 run fifth for Council against the late Barbara Marshall.

Also tied to AtomicMonkey by the Abercrombie campaign, California-based political consultant Shellie Garrett described herself in one article on her work for a Republican in the 1984 San Francisco Supervisor's race as "the National Republican Voter Contact Services Representative."  She is a former Executive Director of the San Mateo County CA Republican Party whose experience includes managing the successful 1979 special election Congressional campaign of San Mateo CA Republican Bill Royer.

At the center of the Atomic Monkey maelstrom is long time political operative Keith Rollman.  Volcanic Ash columnist David Shapiro profiled Rollman in a July 12 column.  Elements of Rollman’s career track closely with Hukari’s.  Among the tidbits included in Shapiro’s column:

“(Rollman) worked mostly for Republican candidates before hooking up with Mufi Hannemann’s mayoral campaign in 2004…

“Rollman…was a paid consultant to the 2004 Hannemann campaign before taking an $85,000 city job after Hannemann defeated Duke Bainum.

“He first made a name for himself as a political consultant working in Fasi’s mayoral campaigns; Hawaii Business credited Rollman for the “negative campaigning” in 1984 that helped Fasi make a comeback as a Republican convert and regain the city’s top job from Eileen Anderson, who had taken it from him four years earlier.

“In 1994, Rollman stuck with the Republicans and their candidate for governor Pat Saiki as media adviser when Fasi left the GOP and ran a third-party campaign against Saiki and Democrat Ben Cayetano.

“Rollman backed Republican Orson Swindle’s campaign to unseat Abercrombie from Congress.

“Rollman was quoted as a media adviser for Peter Carlisle when he first won the city prosecutor’s job in 1996 and for Republican Gene Ward in his 1998 run against Abercrombie, of whom Rollman has said, ‘I have known and disliked Neil Abercrombie since before Mufi Hannemann was out of high school.’

“This year, he was in the middle of a dispute over the Hannemann campaign’s allegedly high-handed behavior at the state Democratic convention, which caused party chairman Dante Carpenter to rebuke the mayor.

“Rollman, who was a delegate to the convention, posted a stinging retort to Carpenter on this blog: ‘There is little tolerance for any ‘Democrat’ not willing to tow the liberal mantra of the Neil Abercrombie zealots who have taken over the party. What used to be the ‘big tent’ is now a rather ingrown clique with some very radical views. I don’t think they represent the more patriotic AJA Democrats I know, the typical union workers or a majority of the more moderate and independent individuals who still consider themselves Democrats. To quote an old adage…we didn’t leave the party, the party left us.’

“More than a few Democrats found it cheeky for a guy who spent all those years working to elect Republicans to present himself as the voice of old-line Democrats.”

How will they feel about voting for a candidate who spent all those years as part of the Bush administration?


UPDATE: Two references which cite Hannemann’s service to the George W Bush administration:

“In the administration of President George W. Bush, Hannemann served in the United States Department of Labor as a member of the President’s Council on the 21st Century Workforce.”

“10 March 2008: Honolulu’s first mayor of Samoan descent, as well as the second Mormon to hold the office, Mufi Hannemann is unusual in having worked for all US presidents from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush….

“Hannemann was also appointed to government service in the first administration of George W. Bush, serving in the Department of Labor as a member of the President’s Council on a 21st Century Workforce.”

But in Hannemann’s official campaign biography, his service to the administration of George W. Bush is conveniently omitted and he claims to have worked under only FOUR Presidents, instead of five:

“This Harvard-educated leader and former star athlete has the distinction of having served in the administrations of four U.S. Presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.”

This omission is repeated at least twice on Mufi’s campaign website in the following locations:




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