How does Gov. Neil Abercrombie compare with former Gov. Linda Lingle?

That’s a question raised by a Civil Beat investigation last week into the relationship between Abercrombie’s appointees and donors.

Civil Beat revealed that one-fourth of the Democrat’s government appointees contributed to his campaign. One-half of his Cabinet heads gave to his campaign.

A new Civil Beat analysis found that of the 172 appointees the Republican Lingle submitted to the Hawaii Senate during the 2003 Legislature, her first, 35 contributed to her 2002 campaign. That’s 20 percent.

And, of the 16 people who were appointed to Lingle’s Cabinet at that time, only five — or just under one-third — were campaign contributors.

(Read the full list here.)

Lingle v. Abercrombie

When it comes to the relationship between campaign donors and government appointees, there are other distinctions between the previous governor and her successor.

• Only one Lingle appointee contributed the maximum of $6,000 during the 2002 election cycle: University of Hawaii Regent Catherine “Kitty” Lagareta. Five Abercrombie appointees contributed the maximum during the 2010 election cycle.

• Of the five Cabinet heads who gave to Lingle, none gave more than the $1,500 given by Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Director Mark Recktenwald. Three of Abercrombie’s Cabinet heads gave in excess of $3,000 each.

(Lingle would later appoint Recktenwald to the Intermediate Court of Appeals and to be chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.)

• The 35 Lingle appointees who donated to her campaign contributed a combined total of $43,487, which represents 0.9 percent of the $5.1 million she raised during the 2002 election cycle from some 8,500 donations. Abercrombie’s 67 donating appointees contributed a combined total of $106,834, or 2.4 percent of the $4.5 million that came from more than 5,000 donations.

• Those 35 Lingle contributors whom she later appointed kicked in an average of $1,242 apiece to her election effort. Abercrombie’s 67 donator-appointees averaged $1,600 apiece.

Names of Note

After Lagareta’s $6,000 maximum contribution to Lingle, the next five largest donations from future appointees were:

• Kathryn Ghean, Board of Registration of the Islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe: $4,115

• Carl L. Simons, Board of Directors of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority: $4,000

• Joyce Cassen, Medical Advisory Board: $2,725

• Shelton G.W. Jim On, the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii: $2,186

• Eric D. Weinert, Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Development Corporation: $2,072

After Recktenwald’s $1,500, the four other Cabinet heads who gave to their future boss were:

• Mark Bennett, Attorney General: $1,100

• Nelson Befitel, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations: $500

• Georgina Kawamura, Department of Budget and Finance: $390

• Brigadier General Robert G.F. Lee, Adjutant General/Director of Civil Defense: $300


During the 2003 Legislature, Lingle submitted to the state Senate a total of 172 appointees to her Cabinet, boards and commissions. But Abercrombie has thus far submitted a total of 263 appointees during the 2011 Legislature.

Why the difference?

One possibility is the vacancy schedule of boards and commissions. Terms of office vary in length and have different expiration dates; membership numbers can also change.

For example, Lingle in 2003 made appointments to the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission and the State Boxing Commission. Abercrombie has made no such appointments

Abercrombie, meanwhile, has made appointments to the Hawaii Workforce Development Council and the Hawaii Public Housing Authority board of directors. That was not the case for Lingle in 2003.

As well, Lingle was a Republican governor — the first in 40 years — who faced a Legislature dominated by Democrats.

The Hawaii Republican Party has never been anywhere the size of the Democratic Party of Hawaii in modern times, suggesting Lingle had a far smaller pool of like-minded people to draw from when it came to hiring.

And more people voted for Abercrombie in 2010 — 222,724 in all — than voted for Lingle in 2002 197,009.

  • Lynn Nakagawa contributed to this article.

About the Authors