Hawaii Political Soap Opera Continues
Ewa-based web designer Eric Ryan has targeted another political figure today with an extensive web site attack. This time the accusations are levied against his former boss, Honolulu Council Member Tom Berg, who employed Ryan as his office manager. That is until last week when Ryan said he was fired for "whistleblowing."
Ryan, who has had numerous public fall outs in recent years with several of his high profile political clients including Stop Rail Now's Cliff Slater, Gubernatorial Candidate and attorney John Carroll and State Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine, actually makes his accusations against Berg on a web site he'd already created to accuse Pine of alleged misdeeds, Kympineisacrook.com.
In all capital letters, he headlines his own press release with this "scandal alert" saga saying there is a major cover-up on both sides of Punchbowl street (where the capitol and city hall sit across from each other):
"TOM BERG FIRES ERIC RYAN OVER WHISTLEBLOWING: COUNCILMAN BERG SPECIFICALLY CITES HIS TOP AIDE’S REPORTING OF WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE ON BERG’S OWN CITY HALL STAFF WITH BERG’S FULL KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT AS REASON FOR TERMINATING RYAN ON EXACT SAME DAY THAT RYAN’S WHISTLEBLOWING CAMPAIGN WAS TO BEGIN AGAINST BERG’S FORMER EMPLOYER AND POLITICAL ALLY, FRIEND, AND MENTOR REP. KYMBERLY PINE, WHILE PINE HERSELF TRIES UNSUCCESSFULLY TO TAKE DOWN RYAN’S WHISTLEBLOWING SITE."
Ryan has been in the news several times over the last few weeks for his accusations against Pine, who he says owes him money for a web design that he created. He sent out a flier that compared her to Congressman Anthony Weiner and Casey Anthony.
Pine said she is being harassed by Ryan and his business partner, Daniel Brackins, even though she paid them $5,000 for a simple informational web site.
“I am working in full cooperation with law enforcement officials to bring this man to justice. The issue is currently under investigation, and I hope it can be handled civilly and respectfully in a court of law."
Pine said just after working with her for a month and a half, Ryan tried to extort money from her and force her to keep him on as her web designer from now until 2012 and retaliated when she refused.
“Mr. Ryan did some basic website work for me in the past and I have all of my documentation showing I paid him in full. When I refused to keep him on as my web designer until 2012 or endorse him so he could get more clients, he demanded more money, hijacked my campaign and legislative websites and launched his campaign of harassment.”
Pine said Ryan was able to gain access to her web sites, Kymberlypine.com and Kymberlypine.org, after her former staff member, Daniel Brackins, who is reportedly Ryan's business partner, gave Ryan the codes.
Pine's sites have been taken down by Ryan. He posted his own notice there: "WEBSITES REMOVED FROM SERVICE DUE TO NON-PAYMENT BY FORMER CLIENT; FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CLICK HERE. OWNERSHIP OF SITES HAS BEEN DEFINITIVELY SETTLED IN FAVOR OF ERIC RYAN d.b.a. Studio Ryan Design + Advertising. For more information, please visit: Federal Bureau of Investigation - Honolulu Division, http://www.fbi.gov/honolulu, Dept. of the Prosecuting Attorney, http://www1.honolulu.gov/prosecuting/, Honolulu Police Department, http://www.honolulupd.org/, Sheriff Division, State of Hawaii Dept. of Safety, http://hawaii.gov/psd/law-enforcement/sheriffs-division"
Pine said there has been no such settlement as Ryan claims. In fact, she still has to take him to court to get control of her web sites back even though she paid for them. This experience has her advocating for tougher cyber laws at the Hawaii State Capitol, she said.
"It’s unfortunate that a single person can so easily attempt to extort money through constant threats, lies and harassment. I will not stand by and allow Mr. Ryan continue to try to hurt my family and my family name in order to make money he is not owed," Pine said.
While Ryan claims Berg fired him over his accusations against Pine, Pine tells a different story. She said she and her staff called Berg more than 25 times since Ryan launched his public attack on her to speak to him about the matter, and Berg never returned her phone calls or text messages. Before being elected in a special election this year to the city council, Berg worked for Pine at her capitol office.
Ryan has been in the news regularly since 2008 for his accusations against Hawaii's politicians and political candidates. That year, he claimed that an aide to then Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann had created a slanderous web site about then popular mayoral candidate Panos Prevedouros.
Keith Rollman, who worked as an appointee for Hannemann, and now has his own advertising agency, said on September 15, 2008, that he filed a complaint with the Honolulu Police Department because someone had forged his name to a slanderous email promoting the derogatory website “firepanos.wordpress.com,” "and spread it all over town."
"It basically said how proud I was of being a racist and an idiot and came from a fake email account made to look like it was from the campaign," Rollman writes in Hawaii Reporter last week.
Ryan denied any responsibility at the time saying: "Heavens no! I don't know why anyone would do anything to promote this awful site. It's disgusting. I watched this Web site get nasty, very sexist, very racist and homophobic and other things ... I am certain that Rollman, who probably has the technical knowhow to cover his tracks and the access to the entire City e-mail directory to send e-mails to fellow City employees, is completely responsible for both the disgusting website and the offensive e-mail.”
The FBI and the city prosecutor were called in by Rollman and the email was reportedly traced to Ryan, who was then working on his laptop in the downtown office of attorney John Carroll. "The FBI came into my office, and they did a complete run through all the computers. The email did not come from our computers, but out of my office on a laptop," Carroll told Hawaii Reporter today.
The city prosecutor's white collar crime division also found evidence against Ryan: “There is sufficient evidence to believe that Eric Ryan sent the offending e-mail on September 15, 2008...the evidence is sufficient to prove Ryan's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
Carroll, who let Ryan use his office and hired him as his campaign manager during his 2010 run for governor, also inevitably had a fallout with Ryan.
Ryan accused Carroll, and Carroll's campaign staffer Dan Douglass, of a cover-up related to emails sent from Rep. Kymberly Pine's office, where Douglass worked.
At this time, Pine and Ryan were still on good terms.
Ryan said he had no choice but to resign after learning of the alleged scandal involving Douglass that Carroll allegedly knew about, but did nothing to resolve.
But Carroll recounts a different version of this history: "I think Eric still has one or two of my campaign web sites, which he used my money to get. He also forged my signature on a contract and tried to use that to extort me for more money, even though it was very clear forgery. In all, he took about $30,000 from me, $6,000 was supposed to be a loan to cover his mortgage," Carroll said, noting the loan was never returned to him.
Carroll filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office, but nothing was done, he said.
After their fall out, Carroll said Ryan published a series of press releases about Carroll and filed 19 complaints against his campaign, Citizens for Carroll, even though Ryan was the chairman of the campaign and had mishandled the very details of the campaign that he was using in the complaint against Carroll.
Ryan also has attacked Hawaii Reporter and Hawaii Free Press as "fake" and he ran an Internet campaign insulting several members of the Hawaii Republican Party. He started another GOP web site, very similar in name to the Hawaii GOP actual web site, but the GOP never challenged him on that.
Several people had warned Carroll, Pine and Berg about Ryan's ups and downs in Hawaii's political arena, but they continued to work with him until they had their own fall out.
Pine said no one was ever clear on what the conflicts were over, but if she had known the details, she would have handled the situation differently.
Carroll added: "He should be locked up in an insane asylum. He has so much talent but it is all askew. He even had himself running for governor for a while on my web site."
The political soap opera has inspired cartoons and stories on AtomicMonkey.com, a satirical web site created by Rollman.
That garnered a response from Ryan on Hawaii Reporter seen here:
"Monkey See, Monkey Do"
The story came full circle late last week when flier mocking Ryan's campaign against Pine was mysteriously placed around the capitol and city hall comparing him to, well, a horses ass, and telling everyone to check out the web site, EricRyanisaCrook.com.
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