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Hawaii NewsVolcanic Ash

Hannemann’s tactics take the hit-and-run route

There’s getting to be a hit-and-run pattern to the negative tactics associated with the Mufi Hannemann campaign for governor.

Hit: The "Atomic Monkey" website — produced by Keith Rollman, a city appointee under Hannemann, and a campaign volunteer — which mocked Democratic rival Neil Abercrombie and his wife with crude schoolyard "satire."

Run: After admitting the site was Rollman’s, the Hannemann campaign asked him to take it down and denied any official involvement, even though top campaign officials listed themselves as fans of "Atomic Monkey" on Facebook.

Hit: The infamous "Compare and Decide" mailer by the Hannemann campaign, which borrowed themes from "Atomic Monkey" in denigrating Abercrombie’s mainland birth, University of Hawaii education and haole wife.

Run: After even U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Hannemann booster, joined in the criticism, the former mayor backed away from the ad with a tepid apology.

Hit: An incendiary new flier by a recently formed group called Island Values, which again takes from the "Atomic Monkey" playbook to disparage Abercrombie’s religion and urges Christians to vote for Hannemann in the Democratic primary.

Run: Hannemann issued a statement disavowing the material and asked his supporters not to distribute it, but by then the material already was distributed and the benefit reaped.

Some digging by Associated Press reporter Herbert Sample raised serious questions about whether Island Values was as far removed from the Hannemann campaign as claimed.

The central figure was attorney Ken Wong, the deputy treasurer of Island Values who was also a member of the Hannemann campaign committee. (Wong’s name disappeared from Hannemann’s website after the story broke.)

The AP reported that Wong, named by GOP Chairman Jonah Kaauwai as Hannemann’s point person in wooing conservative Christians, had donated $3,000 to the Hannemann campaign, appeared at events for Hannemann’s rail project and sat on the board of Hannemann’s Pacific Century Fellows.

Joel Criz, president of Island Values, told AP he was recruited by Wong, adding, "He’s with the (Hannemann) campaign and maybe he’s the person who’s organizing the faith-based initiatives relative to the campaign."

Wong referred AP’s questions to former state Rep. Dennis Arakaki, who voiced a radio ad for Island Values, but Arakaki also said Wong recruited him.

It’s ironic for supporters of a political candidate to make claims of superior godliness with tactics that are anything but.

Attempts to evade responsibility for the actions of operatives who have clear ties to the campaign skirt the bounds of honesty; it crosses the line to surreptitiously erase the name of a campaign committee member after the fact and hope nobody notices.

There’s wisdom in the old political saying that you can tell a lot about how a candidate will govern by how he campaigns.

David Shapiro can be reached at volcanicash@gmail.com or blog.volcanicash.net.


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