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Sunday, July 1, 2012
Pay to Play: Will Cayetano Retaliate Against Hirono?
By Andrew Walden @ 9:29 PM :: 12412 Views :: Ethics, Labor, Politicians

“But the woman took off the great lid of the jar with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men….countless plagues, wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils and the sea is full.” – Heisod, “Works and Days

by Andrew Walden

Ian Lind is “disappointed” in John White.

Richard Borreca says, “the folks running the Pacific Resource Partnership are lacking the perspective….”

Ben Cayetano says, “PRP was once a reputable organization. But back then it was headed by a more experienced, mature and skilled individual....”

Hawaii’s political economy rests on an unwritten, rarely spoken agreement not to open Pandora’s Box. As all readers of Hawai`i Free Press well know, most of Hawaii’s business and political elite consists of criminals who belong in prison. The system works well for the criminals as long as they do not start pointing out each others’ crimes. If someone squeals, it is the job of Hawaii’s media to knock him back into line. This is obvious to even the smallest child. It is why they leave Hawaii as soon as they turn 18.

Faced with the desperate possibility that Ben Cayetano will be elected mayor, Pacific Resources Partnership has crossed the line by making an issue of Cayetano’s 1990s pay to play contributions. And Cayetano’s camp is demanding the rail forces accept punishment in exchange for Cayetano not retaliating against Hirono.

Lind June 20 complains:

I’m pretty disappointed in John White after seeing the latest attack ads from the Carpenters Union and its Pacific Resource Partnership.

White is the front guy for the Carpenters Union, PRP, and the major contractors they have union agreements with, who have decided they need to turn their guns on former governor Ben Cayetano, apparently because straight-forward advocacy of Honolulu’s rail project has failed to sway voters. So the Carpenters and PRP set up a new attack PAC, and launch a grossly misleading attack on Cayetano based on allegations from the 1998 campaign season.

He then proceeds to assert that it is false to claim that Cayetano had anything to do with pay to play. The only point of such a ridiculous claim is to demonstrate a willingness to make it with a straight face. After proving he will thus debase himself to defend the system, Lind ends with this:

If the Carpenters Union, PRP, and their various major construction companies are really such zealous opponents of pay-to-play politics, I would expect them to drop their PACs, stop making corporate contributions to political candidates, and support efforts to further reform the political system. But I’m not holding my breath.

By the way, just who are the companies that make up the Pacific Resource Partnership? You won’t find them listed on the PRP website, or on the Carpenters Union website....

Lind’s broadside drew this comment from White:

... we both know there is more to this story then you’re letting on....

And Cayetano chimed in to the online debate:

PRP fails to mention the other major candidates who found themselves in the same situation; Mazie Hirono, Arnold Morgado, Jeremy Harris and Frank Fasi.

Is PRP implying that Mazie Hirono who also received illegal contributions did any wrongdoing? Of course not, John White served as Mazie’s Chief of Staff. Mazie Hirono is an honest dedicated public servant of the highest integrity — too bad some of those traits did not rub off on John White....

In essence Cayetano is patting himself on the back for not taking revenge on his former Lieutenant Governor who collected the same illegal contributions from the same crooks for the same reason. Cayetano has the “perspective” that White lacks. Hawaii’s political and business elite operate in a world of Mutually Assured Destruction where “public servants” of “the highest integrity” choose every day not to push The Red Button. Cayetano, Borreca, and Lind demand that the pro-rail forces stay within these ideological parameters. Even if their $5.5B project is killed, they must absorb the blow without unleashing Armageddon.

As Cayetano explains:

PRP was once a reputable organization. But back then it was headed by a more experienced, mature and skilled individual....

He then hints at the “sorrow, mischief, and plagues” to come if White doesn’t shut up:

Some of PRP’s members have received no bid contracts — including the company White alleges — but does not name — that received no bid contracts to design and build schools or university facilities....

The company in question was awarded the job because a committee ranked it superior to the other competitors. John White should disclose the name the company....

Cayetano’s choice of the word “university” refers to Bert Kobayashi, Inc., recipient of $260M in no-bid UH construction contracts courtesy of MRC Greenwood and Neil Abercrombie.

Alongside White, Bert Kobayashi is a Board member of the pro-rail “Move Oahu Forward” group, many of whom would be in prison if the truth was told.

Two days later, Borreca chimes in:

Their impeccable, wood-paneled downtown offices make you feel this is a solid institution with vision.

The conference room has a dramatic view along Hotel Street to the state Capitol, but the folks running the Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP) are lacking the perspective to go along with the view.

In other words, if PRP had “perspective” they would realize that their rhetoric has the potential to tear down the corrupt system which makes PRP possible.

Rep Della Au Bellati is also disappointed at White’s failure to abide by the rules:

"My feeling is if PRP wants to engage in this, it is highly suspect, it is unfortunate. They are picking and choosing what candidates to focus on; they are failing to tell the real story…." Belatti said.

Like the others, Bellati walks White over to the precipice for a look:

Belatti noted that besides contributions going to Cayetano, donors also improperly gave to then-Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and former Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Here is part of the 2006 settlement reached with Russell Figueiroa, R.M. Towill Corp. president:

"The proposed draft agreement is offered to settle claims of false name and excess contributions made to the campaigns of Arnold Morgado, Ben Cayetano, Jeremy Harris and Mazie Hirono. Staff recommends and Respondent has agreed to a fine of $50,800."

What White doesn't say in his PRP commercials is that Hirono's campaign took in about $98,000 in contributions that White called "illegal" with Cayetano.

White also didn't mention that he is Hirono's former chief of staff.

"What they are doing is very disingenuous, very hypocritical," said Belatti.

Rail is likely the largest of Inouye’s last pork projects. If Rail dies, there is little on the ‘plata’ side of the equation that PRP can look forward to. But on the ‘plombo’ side, Borreca is explicit:

When voters go to the polls in August, it may be that mysterious unsubstantiated attacks, instead of being visionary campaign tactics, actually bring in Cayetano and send rail packing.

PRP’s commercials are still running.  Is the media a paper tiger?


Hirono: Pay to Play Fines Unpaid: Hirono for Governor Campaign Closes Owing State Elections Fund Over $98,000.

March 25, 2012: Abercrombie, Greenwood Team Up to Steer $260M in UH Contracts to Bert Kobayashi Inc

March 28, 2012: SB1332: Kobayashi UH Exemption to be Continued?

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