By Willes K. Lee
Imaginary Crime. That's what Hawaii Democrat Representative Joe Bertram called the vile acts of his close friend, Mark Marcantonio who was caught red-handed by Maui police for soliciting sex from a 14-year old girl he pursued on the Internet.
Appearing before a judge in court, Bertram urged leniency on a convicted child sex offender. Even more disturbing, just last year, Bertram was the only member in the state Legislature to vote against increased penalties for predators who solicit sex with children on the Internet.
Joe Bertram believes sexual predators are clogging up our prisons and should be out of jail, free to lure more of our innocent children. I believe they belong behind bars and away from our communities.
Bertram’s actions are not only disgusting, they are dangerous.
We cannot let apologists like Joe Bertram continue to hold elected positions in our state, especially when it comes to protecting our number one priority – our children.
National child advocate Marc Klaas found Bertram’s actions so outrageous that he felt compelled to help us speak out by recording a radio advertisement that played on Maui radio stations all last week. You can listen to the radio ad by clicking here.
The response, as I’m sure you can 'imagine,' has been overwhelming. The Maui News has received numerous letters from outraged citizens. One Maui voter wrote the newspaper, "I owe the people of Maui an apology. I am sorry for supporting Joe Bertram in the past. It won't happen again." (Tom Bigelow, Kihei). Even Democrat Party of Hawai’i Chairman, Brian Schatz, denounced Bertram's indefensible statements.
The radio ads are working - the people of Maui are learning that Joe Bertram’s conduct is disgusting and dangerous. But more people need to know that Joe Bertram thinks child predators should be on our streets, not in prison.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Bad things happen when good people do nothing.” Help us make sure nothing bad ever happens to our children by getting rid of bad elected officials like Joe Bertram.
Thank you for helping to make our communities safer.
Willes K. Lee is the Chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party