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As reported in an Ad Watch earlier this month, only one of the seven candidates running to be city prosecutor has aired a campaign commercial on TV this election season.
Defense attorney Megan Kau now joins public defender Jacquie Esser in buying ad times.
In the first spot, “Voices 4 Megan Kau,” former city prosecutor and mayor Peter Carlisle opens the clip, explaining that he encouraged Kau to get in the race. She’s got the “integrity and skill,” he says.
Former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue follows with similar praise. Then, Nonohe Botelho, the mother of Joel Botelho, who was shot and killed in 2011, says Kau “will fight for Honolulu” to get justice.
Watch the ad:
At the bottom of the screen, in large type, several phrases materialize one after the other: “proven track record,” “endorsed by integrity,” “trusted by law and order,” “tough on crime,” “fights for victims.”
I’m not sure what “endorsed by integrity” means — endorsed by people who have integrity, it seems — but for any TV viewer who pays even the slightest attention to the news, Carlisle may remind them that the current prosecutor, Keith Kaneshiro, is on indefinite paid leave in connection with a federal investigation stemming from the infamous Kealoha case.
Donohue, meantime, may remind viewers that Louis Kealoha, the former police chief, was convicted on conspiracy and obstruction last year. The same goes for Kealoha’s wife, the former deputy prosecutor who used to work for Kaneshiro.
The 30-second spot does not mention that Kau worked in the same office, too, from 2006 to 2010. But that was long before a mailbox was stolen in Kahala, the setting of the sordid tale of the Kealohas.
It’s a solid ad, though the score is a tad symphonic and Carlisle, Donohue and Botelho never look directly at the camera.
But Botelho, when she says “I was once told that conviction doesn’t always equal justice. As a parent of a murdered child, I disagree,” is a strong closer. Joel Botelho was an all-star quarterback for Castle High.
The 30-second “Prosecuting All Crimes” opens with what appears to be a video recording from a convenience store or gas station of an armed suspect raiding the cash register.
“Are you concerned about the recent rise in crime in Honolulu?” a narrator asks as the screen flashes “armed robbery and assault” and four other crimes, each crime punctuated with a popping sound and a rising wail.
The ad quickly shifts to flattering stills of the candidate.
“Megan Kau has more trial experience in the last 10 years than all the other candidates combined,” the screen boasts. “Megan Kau is the only candidate who will charge all crimes in Honolulu.”
Watch the ad:
I called Kau to check on those claims.
In terms of trials, Kau said, “For Steve Alm it’s zero, for Dwight Nadamoto maybe one,” she explained, before rattling off stats on opponents Esser, RJ Brown and Tae Kim.
As for “prosecuting all crimes,” Kau said Alm will charge only violent crimes — “Jacquie too” — while Nadamoto will not charge for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.
For trials, he said there are three players — the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney and the judge. Alm said that, as a judge, he has presided over 200 jury trials.
As for Kau’s claim about charging on violent crimes, Alm said it was “patently false.” He said the focus of a prosecutor should be on violent crimes and “people that won’t stop stealing” and not to simply prosecute every case the Honolulu Police Department submits to the prosecutor’s office.
Kau countered by saying, “Presiding over a trial is not the same as doing a trial. My experience over the last 10 years includes eight trials as a prosecutor, 17 as a defense attorney and two civil trials. It’s not just the number of trials, it is also about the types of trials.”
Update: After this article was published, Esser sent this statement via email: “In truth, I have tried more cases than any other candidate during the past decade, including over 40 jury trials and 100 judge trials.”
It’s up to voters to decide who to believe. But Kau’s two TV ads help define who she is, which may well sway voters.
Kau’s campaign paid KGMB nearly $4,000 to run her ads from July 14-26 including on programs such as “Sunrise.” She paid KHON even more money to run ads over that same time period and until July 31 during the morning and evening news.
And KITV was paid about $4,400 to run ads between July 20 and Aug. 8 — primary election day — during the news shows and “Good Morning America.”
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