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Cayetano files libel lawsuit against pro-rail group PRP

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 7:08 p.m. HST, Oct 22, 2012

Mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano filed a libel lawsuit today against the organization that has spent more than $1 million in advertising which he alleges attacks his character.

The lawsuit names Pacific Resource Partnership, PRP executive director John White, PRP’s trustees, its political action committee, the Hawaii Carpenter’s Union and Hoakea Communications, the advertising agency helping to coordinate the campaign.

The lawsuit, filed in Hawaii Circuit Court this morning, alleges that PRP and its associates are conducting a coordinated campaign of push polls, television and radio advertisements, and flyers that falsely accuse the former governor of accepting illegal campaign contributions, giving government contracts in exchange for contributions, and keeping contributions for personal gain.

A spokeswoman for PRP, which has endorsed Kirk Caldwell for Honolulu mayor, said attorneys for the organization have yet to see the lawsuit and that PRP would not comment until it is reviewed.

PRP is a partnership between the carpenter’s union and unionized construction companies in the state that, according to PRP’s own website, is focused on leading “efforts that sustain the health of the building industry.”

“This case is about big money for big lies and it’s about the future of elections in Hawaii,” said Jim Bickerton, one of Cayetano’s attorneys. “It’s bigger than Ben vs. Kirk, and it’s bigger than rail vs. bus. It’s about whether we’re going to let secret, shadowy groups with unlimited funds pump lies into the public discourse.”

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