by Andrew Walden
Many of Hawaii’s reputed mobsters have weighed in with endorsements for Election 2010—and the common denominator is candidates’ support for the new version of the Akaka Bill.
It is well known that Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case are running with the support of former Governor Ben Cayetano. Mufi Hannemann and Colleen Hanabusa are running backed by Senator Dan Inouye. All but declared Democrat Gubernatorial candidate Hannemann is called “Mufia” by some—and not without reason—but the underworld is mostly piecing together its own team.
A campaign banner touting Hannemann’s Democratic Primary opponent, former Congressman Neil Abercrombie, now hangs prominently from the front gate at the Honokaa ranch of Larry Mehau. Mehau was a key figure in the 1990s “Broken Trust” scandal at Kamehameha Schools. His "Hawaiian Protective Association" collected $40,000 a month for “security” at the Kamehameha campus and more for the “protection” of Big Island Kamehameha lands purchased by the Trust from Hamakua Sugar.
Mehau Ranch front gate, April, 2010
In 1995 the Broken Trust Trustees commissioned ex-Governor John Waihee to study the relocation of KSBE HQ out of Hawaii. His recommendation: The Cheyenne River Sioux Indian reservation—distinguished from other Indian Reservations by its’ “sovereign” Tribal Judiciary and Tribal Legislature. That relocation didn’t happen, but five years later, the Akaka Bill was introduced in Congress, launching efforts to construct a tribal jurisdiction behind which the corrupt could shelter their illegal operations. Neil Abercrombie is at the forefront of efforts to create the Akaka Tribe--and under his new version of the Akaka Bill, an instant Indian Tribe will be created and an instant legal jurisdiction will exist. So it is natural that the Broken Trust crowd will support Abercrombie.
The Akaka Bill has for the first time become an openly debated issue in the Gubernatorial race. But it more clearly divides the candidates in the First District Congressional race. Colleen Hanabusa supports the new version of the Akaka Bill. Charles Djou and Ed Case oppose it, favoring the old version of the Akaka Bill. Like Abercrombie, Hanabusa has close underworld connections. Hanabusa began her political career by spearheading successful efforts to fire Gov Cayetano’s Attorney General Margery Bronster in the midst of her investigation of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate. As Cayetano explained in his memoir:
“...Hanabusa had other reasons to oppose Bronster's confirmation. (KSBE Trustee) Henry Peters and his influential mother, Hoaliku Drake, who had organized public demonstrations in opposition to Bronster's confirmation, were both supporters who lived in her district. Politically, that alone would have been reason enough for her to vote against (Bronster). but, as the Honolulu Advertiser would later disclose, Hanabusa had a close relationship with developer Jeff Stone, whose sister was married to Bishop Estate trustee Dickie Wong and who, along with Peters and Wong had been indicted by a grand jury convened by Bronster. As the attorney general's investigation would later reveal, prior to the confirmation hearing, Hanabusa had met privately with Larry Mehau and Wong. When confronted by a reporter, Hanabusa confirmed that the meeting had taken place, but, in a remarkable lapse of memory, she could not remember if Bronster's confirmation had been discussed."
Mehau’s support for Abercrombie parallels a split within the leadership of the ILWU. When Hawaii ILWU local 142 endorsed Mufi Hannemann for Governor on March 9, former local 142 President Eusebio "Bobo" Lapenia Jr and Yoshito “Papa Tak” Takamine, father of Senator Dwight “Baby Tak” Takamine (D-Hamakua), formally resigned from their positions overseeing ILWU’s proletarian real estate holdings in order to campaign freely for Abercrombie.
At about the same time, Abercrombie picked up support from Laborers International Union Local 368. After massive embezzlement of union funds to purchase private vehicles for union officials and their families and to pay for annual trips to the Philippines, LIUNA 368 was placed in receivership by the US Department of Labor in 2007. The union’s attempts to emerge from trusteeship were stymied by efforts to keep Oliver Kupau III, a convicted felon with ties to police corruption and illegal gambling in Ewa and Nanakuli, serving as business manager of the 4,000-member union. Union bosses relented in February, 2009. Kupau was replaced and LIUNA emerged from receivership. ...