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Cayetano backers launch rebuttal radio ads against PRP

    Mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano talked to reporters after a formal news conference Tuesday to discuss claims made by a pro-rail political action committee about campaign contributions.

Supporters of Ben Cayetano on Thursday launched a round of radio ads aimed at Pacific Resources Partnership and its executive director, John White, defending themselves against the pro-rail group’s ad campaign opposed to the former governor’s mayoral campaign based on killing the city’s rail project.

The new radio ads feature Dennis Mitsunaga, president of Mitsunaga & Associates, an architectural, engineering and construction management firm with government and private contracts, and his daughter, Lois, speaking out against what they call “smears” against Cayetano and “personal attacks” by White and PRP.

“I have great respect for our union, but I am very disappointed by John White and the outright lies he has used to smear former Governor Ben Cayetano and myself in his recent ads,” Dennis Mitsunaga says in one ad. 

PRP, an advocacy group for contractors and unionized carpenters and construction workers, has formed a political action committee, Read Ben’s Record. The PAC has been running ads and a mass-email campaign alleging Mitsunaga benefitted from the “pay to play” culture of the 1990s in which campaign donations were seen as a way to gain influence in receiving public contracts.

Mitsunaga, a member of the Hawaii Carpenters Union, has been a significant fundraiser for Democrats, including Cayetano, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris. He was the target of a 2004 campaign finance probe of Harris but was never charged with a crime.

The new radio ads, which began airing today and are set to run up until the Aug. 11 primary, cost $30,000 and were paid for out of Dennis Mitsunaga’s personal funds, his daughter said.

“Ben Cayetano’s campaign is getting defensive because they know voters don’t want to return to the “pay-to-play” system that flourished when he was governor,” White said. “Cayetano and his bag man are desperate to keep the pressure on contractors and they will do whatever it takes to win, because they need Cayetano to give them no-bid government contracts.”

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