BY JIM DOOLEY – Honolulu mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano reacted quickly today to a new online political attack questioning his record as governor.
The new blog site, readbensrecord.com, is very similar to two others promoted by PRP, a Carpenters Union-affiliated organization that is extremely active in backing the proposed $5.2 billion Honolulu rail rapid transit project opposed by Cayetano.
The new site once again points out that Cayetano’s former gubernatorial political campaign was closed years ago without repaying more than $500,000 to the state Campaign Spending Commission.
After the campaign was closed, the Campaign Spending Commission determined that it had received more than half a million dollars in donations that violated state campaign laws.
The state determined that the campaign and its principals were not responsible for paying the funds back to the Campaign Spending Commission.
Various other Isle campaign organizations were likewise not required to repay illegal donations they had inadvertently accepted.
Cayetano said today his political opponents “are very desperate because their candidates are far behind” in the mayoral election race.
The other two candidates, incumbent Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and former City Managing Director Kirk Caldwell, both support the rapid transit project.
Cayetano noted that the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has trimmed a $250 million federal budget line item for the Honolulu rail project to $100 million.
The City is counting on the federal government to ultimately supply $1.5 billion in rail financing here and Cayetano said the House committee’s decision to limit interim funding could mean big trouble down the line the for project.
“If that money doesn’t come through, there will be a fiscal crisis of epic proportions,” Cayetano said.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye today called the Appropriations Committee vote “unfortunate.”
He said he “will continue to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, in the House and the Senate, to ensure Honolulu receives the necessary funding to advance this vital project.”
Cayetano said rail proponents “have no plan B” for the project beyond Inouye’s support.
“They keep saying, ‘Inouye’s going to do it. Inouye’s going to do it,’” Cayetano said.
But if the federal funding falls short of expectations, Cayetano said, “The City faces some real problems.”
Cayetano said he plans to win the mayoral election outright in the August 11 primary vote by gathering more than 50 percent of the vote.
If no candidate tops the 50 percent mark, the top two vote-getters would continue to the November general election.