A STANDOFF ENDS
Last Thursday, after much negotiating, authorities finally brought a tense and somewhat scary situation to an end. In truth, I was somewhat surprised at the speed at which the standoff came to an end, but it’s always nice to see these things end before tragedy strikes.
I’m speaking, of course, of the state Campaign Spending Commission’s decision to fine mayoral executive assistant Bill Medeiros $2,750 for not filing a single campaign finance report during the 2010 election. The commission also gave Medeiros six weeks to get his reports filed. In 2010 Medeiros had been running for reelection to the Maui County Council seat representing East Maui, but he lost to former County Council member Robert Carroll (who, ironically, more or less gave the nod to Medeiros when he retired from the council back in 2006).
When asked by The Maui News why he failed to file any campaign finance reports (which outline in sadly vague terms who donated money to campaigns and how said campaigns spend said donations), Medeiros offered some, shall we say, novel excuses. “[He] said the reports were not filed because money was apparently lost or stolen from his campaign account, and he did not have all the required information,” he said in an Aug. 12 Maui News story.
The Aug. 12 Maui News story also quoted Medeiros directly on the alleged “theft.” “They [the commission] understand that this identity theft investigation has all but crippled my campaign finances and made it all but impossible to submit my campaign reports,” Medeiros said.
And there we would normally leave it, except for two things. First, a previous Aug. 12 Maui News story reported that while Medeiros did indeed file a report with the Maui Police Department on the theft, he waited until two months ago to do so, even though the alleged theft took place between April 2009 and March 2010. “Asked why he waited so long to file the police report, Medeiros said he had filed one earlier, but it had apparently been lost,” The Maui News reported on Aug. 10. Medeiros did not say who lost the report.
Also, this isn’t the first time Medeiros has run afoul of the Campaign Spending Commission. In 2008 (his first reelection campaign), the commission fined Medeiros $2,000 for not filing eight campaign spending reports, some of which, The Maui News reported, were “more than 600 days overdue.”
A CAMPAIGN BEGINS
I’m using the word “begins” here with some measure of irony because when you’re talking about Gary Hooser, the campaign never really stops.
Hooser is as progressive as they come. He’s for civil unions and labor unions, so he’s pretty much got all the traditional liberal bases covered. But right now he’s languishing in his current job as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. It’s not a bad job as far as bureaucracies are concerned, but it lacks the challenge and conflict that comes from elected office.
Richard Nixon would say that Hooser is at home “in the arena” of elected public office. He misses the giddy uncertainty that comes from a political campaign.
Hooser represented Kauai and Niihau in the Hawaii State Senate from 2003 to 2010, a number of those years as Majority Leader. In 2010 he ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor (losing to Brian Schatz). I first heard of Hooser in 2006, when he ran unsuccessfully for the 2nd District U.S. Representative seat (losing to Mazie Hirono)–a job he appears to be running for yet again.
“I can no longer merely watch from the sidelines as the ‘politics as usual’ in Washington threatens the very fabric of our lives and the security of our democracy slips further and further every day,” he wrote in an Aug. 14 press release. “The Governor’s New Day in Hawaii agenda is a good one that I wholeheartedly support. At the end of the day, however, I know in my heart that at some point, serving in public office is where I need to be… The 2nd Congressional District in the United States Congress is a path many have encouraged me to explore and one which I am seriously considering.”
Hooser’s announcement did not surprise me. “@garyhooser – run we need a bona fide rep of 2nd cong,” Senator Roz Baker, D-West/South Maui, tweeted on Aug. 13 (of course, Baker’s less than grammatically correct tweet could also be interpreted that the 2nd Congressional District–which encompasses all of Hawaii except for Honolulu–currently lacks a “bona fide rep”).
In any case, Hooser’s press release ended with that universal sign of legitimacy that marks every campaign announcement dating back to the early days of the Republic: a blatant and naked call for members of the public to start sending him huge sums of cash. “I must have your help and financial support,” Hooser wrote. “Whether it’s $25, $50, $100 or more–To begin anew down the path toward elective office, I must have your help today. Our campaign must raise $12,500 this month for existing obligations [read: to pay off debt from his previous campaign] and an additional $25,000 to fund other expenses necessary to maintain an ongoing strong and credible campaign presence.”
It was very nice to read in the Aug. 14 Maui News that Jeanne Unemori Skog, the Maui Economic Development Board CEO, has been named by President Barack Obama to the Commission on Presidential Scholars, though for admittedly immodest reasons. While chatting with Skog at some event years ago, it became clear to me that she “got” MauiTime–she understood and even sometimes enjoyed the way we handle news, arts and entertainment coverage, and it felt gratifying to hear such words from someone in such a position of respect. So from all of us at MauiTime, we hope Skog does well.