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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

UH says ad wrongly suggests support

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

The University of Hawai'i-Manoa has asked Windward state Rep. Cynthia Thielen to stop mentioning the university in connection with an endorsement by a UH environmentalist.

John Harrison, the environmental coordinator at the UH-Manoa Environmental Center, endorsed Thielen and appeared in a television ad for her campaign. Thielen, a Republican, has talked about renewable energy and other environmental issues in her run against U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat.

In a cease and desist letter sent Monday, Darolyn Lendio, the university's vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, said mentioning Harrison's affiliation with the university in the ad was inappropriate under state ethics law and university policy.

Laura H. Thielen, Thielen's campaign manager, said the ad has already run its course and a copy has been removed from the campaign's Web site at Harrison's request. The campaign will revise Harrison's title before posting the ad on its Web site again or using the footage in any future ads.

"I think it's a distraction from the issues of the campaign," Laura H. Thielen said.

Mike McCartney, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawai'i, wrote the university last Friday and complained the ad gave viewers the mistaken impression the university and the Environmental Center endorse Thielen's campaign. "I ask that you take immediate action to correct this violation," he wrote.

Harrison said it was an "extraordinary stretch of logic" to suggest he was speaking for the university or the center in the ad. "What I said on the TV ad was that I worked with her in the Legislature for 16 years and I knew that her environmental positions were sound and thoughtful," he said.

During Akaka's primary campaign against U.S. Rep. Ed Case, the Honolulu Fire Department asked Case to remove images of a fire captain who appeared in uniform in one of the congressman's television ads. The fire department said it was against department policy.

The Case campaign edited out the fire captain from the ad but Case claimed Akaka's supporters had engaged in "petty politics."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.