Kerry raising funds for Akaka
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
By Derrick DePledge
U.S. Sen. John Kerry asked his supporters across the country yesterday to help U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka in his Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Ed Case, which could bring more national attention — and money — to Hawai'i in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, praised Akaka in an e-mail as one of 13 senators in June who voted for Kerry's unsuccessful amendment to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq by July 2007.
The e-mail asks Kerry's supporters to contribute money to Akaka and two other Democratic candidates for Senate — millionaire businessman Ned Lamont in Connecticut and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in New Jersey.
Akaka has raised more money than Case and also is receiving national financial and strategic help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Case, who does not want to set a timetable for troop withdrawal until Iraq is more stable, said the party's establishment is piling on in a desperate attempt to save Akaka.
"I see a political culture piling on," Case said. "They don't want change. They are perfectly happy with the status quo. They represent a distinct minority, both in Hawai'i and in our country, that have successfully captured many of the levers of power. And they don't like somebody that comes along and says that's wrong.
"They don't like somebody who is independent, who is not beholden to them, that didn't ask for their permission to run."
Andy Winer, Akaka's campaign manager, said Kerry's e-mail could help Akaka financially and with anti-war Democrats. "From the beginning, we've maintained that this race really is national in importance because of the war in Iraq," he said.
Kerry voted in October 2002 to give President Bush the authority to go to war against Iraq but has since become a prominent critic of the occupation.
In his e-mail, Kerry said Akaka and the other candidates have made Iraq central issues in their campaigns. "It's time to support candidates who are willing to tell the truth: that George W. Bush's policies have failed to make America safe, and that it is time to change course in the war in Iraq," the Massachusetts Democrat wrote.
A COMMITTEE PROJECT
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, will send out thousands of absentee ballot applications this week to likely Akaka voters statewide. The mailers feature U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who has contributed $300,000 of his campaign money to the committee, urging people to vote conveniently by mail. The committee sent out absentee ballot applications last week to likely Akaka voters on the Neighbor Islands.
The mailers include a disclaimer that they are paid for by the committee and are not authorized by any candidate, but they were coordinated with Akaka's campaign, according to Winer.
Federal campaign-finance law allows party committees to make coordinated expenditures on behalf of candidates for items such as polling or get-out-the-vote efforts. Committees also are allowed to make independent expenditures that expressly advocate for a candidate's election.
The committee, according to federal campaign-finance reports, has directly donated $37,300 — the maximum for the primary — to the Akaka campaign and had spent an additional $126,156 through June in coordinated spending on behalf of the senator.
The Akaka campaign asked the state Office of Elections whether the Inouye mailers were proper and was given clearance. In an e-mail exchange last week between the elections office and the state attorney general's office that was obtained by The Advertiser, Dwayne Yoshina, the state's chief election officer, wrote that there was nothing extraordinary about the mailers other than Inouye being prominently featured.
"Mr. Inouye is not running for any public office this year," Yoshina noted.
Reach Derrick DePledge at email@example.com.