- Special Projects
The primary election ended with Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s crushing defeat, and the field is set for the final leg of this electoral race.
Democrat David Ige, fresh from his lopsided primary victory, will face the Republican candidate, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, and former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, who is running under the banner of the newly formed Hawaii Independent Party.
With the general election less than 12 weeks away, it’s time to see what useful background information can be picked up from the candidates’ personal financial disclosures, filed with the State Ethics Commission.
The personal disclosures filed by Aiona and Ige are, in short, pretty boring.
But Hannemann’s has some zing to it. He reported receiving as much as $185,000 in consulting fees from the owner of several Waikiki convenience stores, the developers of the two Ritz-Carlton luxury condo-hotels in Waikiki, a drug treatment center on Sand Island, and a Saipan conglomerate which has been one of the largest garment manufacturers in Saipan.
The largest amount, between $100,000 and $150,000, came from the Saipan-based L & T Group of Companies.
The L & T Group is controlled by the Tan family, originally from Hong Kong, which has interests ranging from garment factories to tourism and hotels, publishing, and retail sales.
In the 1990s, the Tan family companies were linked to notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was using his ample political clout to stave off congressional action to clean up labor conditions in the island’s sweatshops.
In July 2009, the L & T Group settled a series of lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity commission, which “charged the company with retaliation and discrimination based on national origin, pregnancy and age, all in violation of federal law.”
Tan Holdings, a related Tan family company, is reportedly funding a new Marianas Chapter of the Pacific Century Fellows Program. Hannemann is the founder and chairman of Fund for the Pacific Century, which runs the leadership program for mid-career executives which started in Hawaii in 1995.
Hannemann reported receiving $25,000 to $50,000 in consulting fees from Lawson USA Hawaii Inc., which owns several Lawson Station stores in Waikiki. The company is part of Tokyo-based Lawson Inc., which us the second-largest convenience store chain in Japan.
Pacrep LLC, developer of the Ritz Carlton towers now under construction in Waikiki, paid between $10,000 and $25,000 in consulting fees to Hannemann during 2013. Jason Grosfeld, managing member of Pacrep, along with members of his family, partners, companies, and employees, were generous in their campaign support of Hannemann during his terms as mayor, with tens of thousands in contributions over the years.
The Kline-Welsh Behavioral Health Foundation, which operates the Sand Island Treatment Center, paid Hannemann a consulting fee between $1,000 and $10,000.
Hannemann reported owning no corporate stocks or mutual funds valued at more than $5,000 that were not held in retirement accounts. However, he did report interests in three businesses, including the Wailuku Water Company (valued at $10,000-25,000), Navatek Research LLC ($25,000-50,000) and LB Ventures, LLC ($10,000-25,000). Wailuku Water is the successor to Wailuku Sugar Company, and has been a central player in ongoing legal struggles over control of much of the water that formerly fed Maui’s sugar plantations. Navatek and LB Ventures were both involved in research and development of advanced hull designs for Navy and commercial vessels, and both went out of business last year, state business records show.
The independent candidate reported a Bank of Hawaii mortgage valued between $250,000 and $500,000.
Hannemann is also on the board of Iolani School, where he was a star athlete in high school.
Hannemann also reports advertising income from his weekly radio show from the Sheetmetal Workers Union Local 293 ($10,000-$25,000) and from Signature Cab Holdings ($1,000-$10,000).
Howard Higa, president of Signature Cab, contributed $6,000 to Hannemann’s campaign committee on June 19, 2014. On the same day, the company, which does business as The Cab, gave $25,000 to the Hawaii Independent Party, which was established to provide Hannemann a way to avoid another Democratic Party primary contest.
Democratic candidate David Ige reported being paid between $10,000 and $25,000 last year as a project manager for Robert A. Ige & Associates, a family owned engineering company, in addition to his legislative salary of about $56,000, which is set by law.
Although candidates are not required to disclose spouse’s incomes or employment, legislators must report their financial interests as well. On his legislative disclosure, Ige reported his wife’s position as a vice principal at Kanoelani Elementary School in Waipio, with a salary between $50,000 and $100,000.
Beyond that, however, this family appears to be plain vanilla. Sen. Ige reports having no ownership interest in any business in or outside the state. He also reports having no investments in stocks, mutual funds, or other investment vehicles worth $5,000 or more, unless they are in retirement accounts, which are exempt from disclosure.
Ige reports that he is not an officer or director of any business or community organization.
He reports owning his Pearl City home, purchased in 1999, and a parcel in San Bernadino County, California, valued at less than $25,000.
Like many families, Ige and his wife also have both a first and second mortgage from Central Pacific Bank, with total mortage debt of between $525,000 and $800,000. They also report another loan from American Savings Bank of between $25,000 and $50,000.
Republican standard bearer Duke Aiona reports income of $10,000 to $25,000 from each of three sources: JRA Inc., his own firm which offers consulting services, legal services, and officiating at weddings; the State Department of Education, where Aiona reports being a substitute teacher; and Chaminade University, where he was an adjunct professor.
Like Hannemann and Ige, Aiona reports having no stock or mutual fund investments worth over $5,000. His only position with a business or community organization is as an unpaid director of the Reid J.K. Richards Foundation, a family controlled foundation which supports young people who are coping with the death of a parent or primary caretaker.
In addition to his personal residence, which does not have to be disclosed, Aiona reports owning one investment property, a 606-square foot apartment in the Lakeview Plaza condominium. The unit was purchased in 1992, and Aiona reports its current value at between $150,000 and $250,000.
Aiona reports outstanding debts of $784,000. The types of debts are not disclosed, but they appear to include a home mortgage of $575,000, and $27,000 of credit card debts.
What comes through from sum of details in the financial disclosures is that Mufi Hannemann has been playing at a different level—or perhaps playing a different game—than either Ige or Aiona. His involvements—and his entanglements—are far more extensive, as are his financial and political ties to a variety of diverse interests.
Whether all that is seen as a plus or a minus, though, is likely to be one of those “in the eye of the beholder” calls.