Yes, Sen. Clayton Hee was the guy who asked for more time to look at William Aila Jr.‘s qualifications to run the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

But that doesn’t mean he’s trying to stop the nomination.

Hee didn’t return calls for comment as Civil Beat wrote stories about a surprise one-week delay of Aila’s confirmation hearing amid ethics questions and the Senate floor fight that ensued.

On Thursday, Hee spoke with Civil Beat over the telephone to discuss his concerns, Aila’s nomination and his relationship with the Abercrombie administration. Here are his comments:

Hee’s Comments on the Senate Floor

When asked why he turned Aila’s nomination into a Senate floor issue, Hee replied:

“There were some issues that Civil Beat raised that I thought merited a closer look at the nominee, and so I asked for a courtesy delay. But that’s not, in my opinion, an unreasonable request given that we’re in the month of February and there’s no urgency to confirm anyone at this time. It’s better to do a thorough job than to regret not having information come forward prior to a confirmation, whether it’s this particular nominee or any other particular nominee.”

He continued:

“Civil Beat had indicated that (Committee Chair Donovan) Dela Cruz had made some comment about political gamesmanship, asking for the one-day delay, and I wanted to clarify that there was no gamesmanship involved and that I think that Dela Cruz himself, if there’s a concern, he can talk to me directly and not through a blog.”

Will Aila Be Confirmed?

Hee said that just because he’s asked for more time doesn’t meant that he’s opposed to Aila’s appointment.

“There isn’t anything that I’m aware of at this time that rises to the level of concern that he might not be successful on the floor vote,” he said.

“I happen to personally believe that the concerns raised at this time are not at a level where the nomination is in jeopardy.”

Hee’s Relationship with Gov. Neil Abercrombie

Hee’s request for a delay seems to have rubbed the Abercrombie administration the wrong way. Press secretary Donalyn Dela Cruz implied that Hee is holding up two other Cabinet-level appointees.

Hee brushed off such concerns: “I frankly believe that the governor believes that every one of his nominees can withstand the strictest scrutiny, otherwise he would not have nominated them.”

The senator and the governor are longtime friends, he said. “Did you see the picture of me kissing him on the head? You didn’t see the lieutenant governor kissing him on the head.”

“I think that our friendship has been defined by our openness in agreeing with each other and disagreeing with each other. … I don’t expect him to agree all the time with what I do and I’m certain he feels the same way with me,” he said.

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