So candidate filing in Hawaii for the 2014 election officially began on Monday, Feb. 3. For the next few months, we’ll watch a steady stream of citizens announce publicly that they think they know best how to run our county and state governments. And you know what? More power to ‘em–if they want spend an insane number of hours each week away from the families, begging for money and votes from people they’ve never met and possibly don’t even like, all so they can join the elite law-making bodies that govern this island, county and state, then it’s their right and privilege to do so.
Speaking of begging for money, The Maui News reported on Jan. 31 (subscription required to view link) that Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa filed his latest campaign spending report early. You know that guy has $379,000 sitting in his campaign bank account right now, just waiting for candidates to come at him in his reelection bid that, until now, he wasn’t able to declare officially. And while a few have said publicly that they intend to run against Arakawa (see my Jan. 16, 2014 story “Unopposed?” for more on them), a war chest of that size this early in the campaign means any opposition will face a grueling battle to unseat him.
And as is very clear from the latest campaign reports (which I looked over for myself after reading The Maui News story cited above), Arakawa has been spending the last few months–and years–drawing large sums of money from a very broad cross-section of the county’s power establishment. One small but telling example is SHOPO–the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
This is the union that represents cops statewide. Pissed that we can’t find out the names of bad cops who’ve been busted by Internal Affairs? Blame SHOPO, which successfully convinced the state Legislature (and then-Governor Ben Cayetano) in the mid-1990s to grant police officers a special exemption in the state’s public records law.
Anyway, Arakawa’s latest campaign filings show that SHOPO gave him $125 in the last half of 2013. This may not seem like much, but we have to remember that before that contribution, the union had since 2011 given Arakawa $2,500. Given that the mayor typically appoints people to the Maui County Police Commission (who are, of course, subject to County Council approval), we can be pretty sure SHOPO will hand over more dough before the end of the year. In its story, The Maui News made a big deal about the Arakawa Campaign giving back a $4,000 contribution from Alexander & Baldwin and another $1,000 from Monsanto, but as far as I can tell, the campaign finance records show that Arakawa has kept every dollar SHOPO’s given him.
Other recent campaign checks Arakawa has seen fit to cash read like a roster of the county’s most powerful land developers:
• $1,100 from Everett Dowling ($3,100 total)
• $1,000 from A&B CEO Stanley Kuriyama ($2,000 total)
• $125 from A&B Properties Maui VP Grant Chun ($700 total)
• $500 from Kent Smith ($1,250 total)
• $250 from Honua‘ula Representative Charlie Jencks ($3,876 total)
Then there was money from big development firms themselves like $1,000 from Maui Land & Pineapple Company ($2,300 total) and $250 from West Maui Land Company ($1,500 total). And SHOPO wasn’t the only union that was generous to Arakawa: he took in $1,000 from the ILWU PAC ($3,700 total), $2,000 from the Local 3 Operating Engineers PAC and $500 from the Hawaii Operating Engineers Stabilization Fund ($2,000 total).
Despite the fact that it’s doubtful any big-name, well-funded candidate will decide to oppose Arakawa, look for these numbers to get bigger.
Photo: Darris Hurst