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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 5, 2010

Abercrombie cries foul

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Neil Abercrombie

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Mayor Mufi Hannemann

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Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona say they will continue their on-air appearances in their official capacities despite criticism by Neil Abercrombie that doing so gives them an unfair advantage in the governor's race.

Hannemann's office said he intends to continue appearing in radio shows and public service announcements until he files papers as a candidate for governor on July 20, the filing deadline. Aiona's campaign spokesman said the lieutenant governor also does not intend to stop his regular radio appearances until he files for office.

Abercrombie also criticized Hannemann for announcing his run for governor last week and continuing to stay in office, suggesting that it violates the spirit of the state's resign-to-run law.

"If he is truly running for governor, the Hawai'i State Constitution requires the mayor to resign from office," Abercrombie said in a statement. "Even if he has found a loophole to exploit, he displays a continuing willingness to violate the spirit of the Constitution for his own personal advantage."

The resign-to-run law, adopted by the voters in 1978, says an elected official has to resign before filing to become a candidate in another public office.

The law does not apply if a person's current term of office ends in the same election year as the next office sought. It also does not apply if the office sought is a federal office.

State and city elections officials contacted yesterday said they know of no laws or rules barring an announced candidate who had not filed candidacy papers from performing any duties connected with that person's current elected office.

Hannemann has two years left on his term as mayor while Aiona's term as lieutenant governor ends in December, so Aiona is not bound by the resign-to-run law.

Bill Brennan, the mayor's spokesman, said the mayor is not required to resign until he files for governor, and until then is not barred from conducting any duties as mayor.

"We're not aware of any standards of conduct triggered specifically by the announcement of an intention to be a candidate," Brennan said.

He noted that Aiona is also continuing to make radio appearances and should be asked the same question.

Travis Taylor, Aiona's campaign spokesman, said the lieutenant governor also intends to continue making regularly scheduled appearances on radio shows.

"When he becomes an official candidate, he will not continue any regularly scheduled radio shows and he will not participate in any public service announcements ..." Taylor said.

He did not specify when that would be.

Aiona, through Taylor, also issued a statement. "Both of my potential opponents are quitting early to campaign for higher office," he said. "The people of Hawai'i elected me to serve my full term in office, and I'm honoring that commitment."

Abercrombie resigned from Congress in February to concentrate on the campaign, triggering a special election to replace him.

Courtney Harrington, a former appointed official and campaigner for former Mayor Jeremy Harris, said Harris stopped public service announcements in which he appeared when he announced his intentions both to run for re-election, and then later for governor.

When the programming director of his one-hour program's radio station questioned the fairness of the free air time, Harris agreed to stop the show, Harrington said.

Hannemann currently is heard and seen on public service announcements both on television and radio.

He also appears on five radio stations: a weekly "Mayor's Minute" appearance on KINE FM, weekly on his own Jukebox Jamboree oldies musical program which he hosts on 107.9 FM, twice a month on KZOO AM and KHVH AM's Mike Buck Show, and once a month on KPHI AM.

Robyn Furuya, KZOO general manager, said because Hannemann hasn't filed his nomination papers, the mayor will continue doing his radio program. Furuya said the mayor and the station are very strict in ensuring that topics discussed on the Japanese-language program pertain to city issues, not political ones.

"We're very careful what the content is," Furuya said.

Aiona, meanwhile, appears on KHVH's Mike Buck and Rick Hamada shows several times a month.

He also is expected to continue his program until he files for office, although he won't need to step down as Hannemann would is required to do.

Laurie Au, a spokeswoman for the Abercrombie campaign, said it's wrong for Hannemann to continue as mayor and appear in public service announcements and radio programs.

"Neil Abercrombie and Mufi Hannemann have different views of what it means to hold a public office," Au said. "For the last year, the mayor has had no problem taking advantage of his current office while raising money and campaigning for another."

Brennan, however, noted that Abercrombie has had a gubernatorial campaign in place for a while but did not resign from Congress until February