Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano is taking his fight with the Pacific Resource Partnership to the Federal Election Commission, and this time he’s dragging U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono into the mix.
Cayetano filed a complaint with the FEC last week alleging that Schatz’s chief of staff, Andy Winer, and PRP’s executive director, John White, violated federal campaign spending law related to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle.
Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano has taken his fight with PRP to the FEC.
PF Bentley/Civil Beat
Winer, a well-known political operative, worked with PRP on its takedown of Cayetano, when the former governor ran for Honolulu mayor in an effort to kill the city’s $6 billion rail project. At the same time, Winer was an advisor to Hirono’s successful U.S. Senate campaign and a strategist for the Hawaii Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign.
Cayetano’s complaint states Winer’s involvement with PRP may have been inappropriate under federal law and should be investigated by the FEC.
Winer, however, says he did nothing wrong and wrote in an email that the complaint is “frivolous on its face, and I am confident that it will be dismissed.”
Candidates are not allowed to coordinate with super PACs but Winer worked for PRP while the group spent more than $61,000 on mailers in support of Hirono. The PRP also spent a similar amount backing President Barack Obama.
In June 2014, Cayetano settled a defamation lawsuit against PRP, which forced the group to issue a public apology in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as well as donate $125,000 to charities of his choosing. But internal PRP emails obtained by Cayetano’s attorney revealed Winer’s involvement with the super PAC.
While Cayetano has said his attacks on PRP are not about “revenge,” his disdain for the organization is clear. He also supported former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa when she ran against Schatz for his Senate seat last year.