BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – “What do you think of the state lawsuit filed against your General Election opponent, David Chang, challenging his residency requirement and do you have any connection to the plaintiffs?”
These were the two questions that Rep. Karl Rhoads, D-Palama, Chinatown, Downtown, Lower Makiki, Sheridan, would not answer when Hawaii Reporter contacted him yesterday via phone and email.
Rhoads, an attorney, said he had not read the September 23rd lawsuit against his opponent, and asked for a copy before commenting. Hawaii Reporter provided the lawsuit via email. He did not return a second phone call and three emails to follow up on his review of the court documents.
The plaintiffs also would not answer these questions.
Plaintiff Lynne Matusow did not return calls to Hawaii Reporter. Research shows she is listed in a 2009 report as the secretary for the Hawaii Democratic Party. She served on the Downtown Honolulu Neighborhood Board with Rhoads before he was elected to the House in 2006. In addition, Matusow is the president of a condo association at Honolulu Tower where Rhoads serves as vice president of a 4-member board of directors. See http://honolulutower.aouo.org/bod.php
The second plaintiff, Anthony Y. Chang, hung up on Hawaii Reporter after being asked about his connections to Rhoads’ campaign. He did not answer two subsequent calls and one email about the lawsuit or Rhoads.
Anthony Chang is currently on the Downtown Neighborhood Board with Matusow. He also is a member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In addition, two people who know him confirm him as one of the supporters in the Rhoads’ campaign flier.
Neither Rhoads nor Anthony Chang would return calls or emails to confirm Chang’s endorsement via the flier.
David Paulson of Bickerton, Lee, Dang and Sullivan Attorneys at Law, who represents Anthony Chang and Lynne Matusow in the suit against David Chang, did not return a call to Hawaii Reporter either.
According to the filing, the lawsuit filed in state court, alleges that David Chang did not live in his district at the time that he filed his nomination papers and therefore should be disqualified from the November General election.
Chang, considered a “rising star” in the Hawaii GOP, called the accusations “ridiculous” and provided a copy of his legal response, which states: “I am a qualified voter of District 28 and I have resided and currently reside in District 28 before and after filing my nomination papers.”
He offered details about his home at 1088 Bishop Street, saying he has lived there since June 2009. Before that, he was in Iraq serving in the Army until November 2007, at which time he returned to Honolulu. After completing his military service in 2009, he moved to his current residence.
“It was a privilege to serve my country as a military officer during the Iraq War. I risked my life to guarantee our democratic principles and freedoms, including the right to run for office. It is disheartening that this right is being attacked by my opponent’s partisan supporters,” Chang says.
He points out that the lawsuit was filed after a similar failed challenge to the Office of Elections in August 2010.
“I am disappointed that supporters of my opponent are trying to use legal maneuvers to stop my candidacy… The Hawaii State Office of Elections has clearly ruled that I am a qualified candidate.”
A hearing date has not been scheduled.
Chang says the real issues that should be discussed revolve around what voters care about – the economy, education, crime and the high cost of living.
He says Rhoads’ voting record includes voting to raise taxes 38 times, increase business regulations 20 times and expand the cost of government 14 times during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions, according to a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii report.
“I look forward to spending the next 40 days talking about the issues,” Chang says.
Malia Zimmerman is the editor of Hawaii Reporter. Reach her at Malia@hawaiireporter.com