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Candidates mining campaign ‘gold’ on the mainland

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Candidates for governor are mining the mainland for campaign gold, with former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie going on the most assay trips and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann carting away the most ore.

Abercrombie has held 11 mainland fundraisers — the most among the gubernatorial candidates — and Hannemann has made five trips, while Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona has traveled there six times. All three candidates have raised the bulk of their money from Hawaii donors, according to figures from the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Those figures are through 2009. The candidates have been raising more money across the country this year.

Hannemann has been the most successful. Figures show that his campaign has picked up about $196,000 on the mainland, with $117,000 coming from California donors.


The top three states or districts giving the most to each candidate:

Neil Abercrombie
California $32,160
Virginia $27,750
Washington, D.C. $26,300
James "Duke" Aiona
California $36,725
Utah $13,000
Maryland/Nevada $3,000
Mufi Hannemann
California $117,082
Nevada $20,500
Arizona/Michigan $6,000

Source: State Campaign Spending Commission


California is also the No. 1 mainland state for Abercrombie and Aiona, with Abercrombie taking in $32,000 and Aiona collecting $36,700.

Hannemann’s mainland fundraising made news last week as the mayor said his campaign staff erred when it reported to the Campaign Spending Commission that he was holding a fundraiser on June 10 in Pittsburgh when he actually held it a day earlier, when he said he was discussing Honolulu’s rail project with a congressman in Washington. The error prompted Hannemann to say he would not take any money from the Pittsburgh fundraiser.

When he returned, Hannemann said the media "should drill down" and look at the mainland fundraising practices of all three campaigns.

All three candidates have different methods of raising funds.

"The campaign is in charge of all aspects of a fundraising event — from planning the event, sending out invitations, accepting RSVPs, logistics and collecting donations. We have no third-party members in charge of our fundraisers," said Abercrombie spokeswoman Laurie Au.

Hannemann’s campaign has held mainland events sponsored by people not associated with the campaign.

For instance, the Pittsburgh trip was hosted by a former executive of Bombardier Transportation, a subsidiary of a Canadian firm that hopes to sell rail cars for the city’s proposed transit system.

Last August, Jason Grossfeld, director of development for Irongate Capitol Properties, hosted a fundraiser for Hannemann in Hollywood. Irongate is the developer of Waikiki Trump Tower, which opened last year.

Also last year Hannemann was hosted at a Denver fundraiser by Tish Maes, a consultant and principal in a firm specializing in government relations.

Last December, Roberta Wieman, executive vice president of Castle & Cooke Inc., held a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Hannemann at the Regency Club in Los Angeles.

This year Denis Dwyer, a Washington, D.C., consultant who used to work for Verner, Liipfert, Bernard, McPherson and Hand, the lobbying outfit that had employed former Gov. John Waihee, held a Washington fundraiser for Hannemann.

In comparison, Abercrombie’s mainland fundraisers all have been organized by Cliff Hash, a Washington consultant.

"Cliff Hash has worked for Congressman Abercrombie for over a decade, handling all of his mainland fundraising activities," said Au, who added that Hash reports to Jack Endo, Abercrombie’s campaign treasurer.

Seven of Abercrombie’s 11 mainland fundraisers were held in Washington, where Abercrombie enjoys close political relationships with several political action committees, including American Resort Development PAC, which gave the campaign $6,000.

Aiona’s fundraisers have been coordinated through Miriam Hellreich, the state GOP national committee woman, who also helped Gov. Linda Lingle with her fundraising. Aiona’s campaign paid Hellreich $42,000 in 2009 to help with fundraising, according to Aiona’s spending report.

"Our supporters reach out to us and we reach out to them," says Travis Taylor, Aiona campaign spokesman.


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