BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – BeNiceBen.com – This is the web site the Pacific Resource Partnership unveiled on Friday in an effort to bring attention to a disagreement between Hawaii’s Senior U.S. Senator, Daniel Inouye, and former Governor turned Honolulu Mayoral Candidate Ben Cayetano.
A Friday email from Pacific Resource Partnership’s executive director that unveiled the web site, claimed at a Wednesday mayoral debate, “Cayetano launched into a mean-spirited attack against Hawaii’s distinguished senior senator, saying that Inouye has ‘never listened to the people” and is ‘out of touch.’”
White said: “These sorts of personal attacks have no place in our public discourse. When Ben Cayetano disrespects Senator Inouye — a man of integrity and honor with a distinguished record of public service — he’s disrespecting all of us.”
Cayetano responded during a press conference from his home yesterday, calling the new web site “childish” and “amateurish.”
“These people are worried stiff that they might lose the election. They are resorting to all kinds of things,” Cayetano said.
The email comes just days after Cayetano accused Pacific Resource Partnership of hiring a mainland firm to conduct a push poll that spreads false information about his background.
The firm, the Idaho-based Mountain West Research group, has been calling Oahu residents in recent weeks from a 213 area code, spreading nasty rumors about Cayetano and Council Member Tom Berg. Both Cayetano and Berg oppose the city’s $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project.
“We know they (Pacific Resource Partnership) have been behind an attempt to smear us. Not only me, but Tom Berg, and everyone else who questions the viability of the rail project. That is how desperate they are,” Cayetano said, calling the poll “dirty campaigning.”
“The fact that Pacific Resource Partnership is doing this shows how desperate they are,” Cayetano said. “PRP was one a respectable organization. This guy white has brought it down into the gutter.”
Both Berg and Cayetano said they are contemplating legal action over the polls.
“I will tell you why,” Cayetano said yesterday, “that way we can take John White’s deposition, put him under oath and put some of the other people under oath who were at the meeting.”
The meeting Cayetano referred to is a campaign meeting for Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, a candidate in this election, where the push polling was reportedly discussed. One of the attendees at the meeting was so disturbed about the plan to attack Cayetano laid out at this meeting, that the Carlisle volunteer reportedly called the Cayetano campaign to issue a warning.
The mayoral campaign could be decided as early as the August primary election if one of the candidates gets 50 percent of the vote plus one more vote. There are three main candidates: Cayetano, former governor and legislator; Carlisle, former city prosecutor and mayor for two years; and Kirk Caldwell, former city managing director under Mufi Hannemann. Both Carlisle and Caldwell want the city’s $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project to move forward, while Cayetano wants to stop the project and spend the money on fixing the city’s dilapidating sewers, water mains and roads.
With billions of dollars at stake, several unions have injected themselves into the race, along with big business leaders, who have formed several groups to promote the rail project and the importance of keeping it on track. That includes campaigns by Go Rail Go, Pacific Resource Partnership, Move Oahu Forward, Imua Rail and the city’s Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
Cayetano said he expects these groups to collectively spend between $15 million and $20 million to keep him from being elected. They will outspend him 20-1, he said.
He was disturbed the city’s HART agency has seemingly injected itself into the race by sending out an editorial from the Honolulu Star Advertiser attacking Cayetano over his stance on the rail project. He noted the agency is funded with taxpayer dollars.
The mayoral campaign has gotten physically rough as well.
“One of our campaign workers, her (car) tires were slashed right outside of our headquarters. This is after our banner at Cycle City (across the street) got riddled with 8 bullets,” Cayetano said. “This is a tough campaign. I am used to this kind of stuff. But this is going to backfire.”
“When this guy (John) White and PRP and doing this silly thing about Beniceben.com – hey go and question them about who is being nice,” Cayetano said.
Calls and emails to John White over this last week have gone unreturned.
Hawaii Reporter was attempting to contact him to ask why his organization is using a mainland push polling company, whose representative who spoke to Hawaii Reporter denied the company conducts push polling, but could not answer when Hawaii Reporter pointed out the company was in fact fined $20,000 for this very practice in another state.
As to an apology to Inouye, Cayetano said he has always supported Hawaii’s senior senator in his elections and respects him deeply.
He said at the debate: “Sen. Inouye has been listening to the government, and he’s never listened to the people. He’s out of touch as far as I’m concerned. I respect Sen. Inouye; he’s done a lot for our country and for our state, but we shouldn’t defer to him.”
Inouye said on Thursday: “I was deeply offended by the statements and negative tactics attributed to Governor Cayetano. The race for Honolulu Mayor should be about the issues facing our city, and in these serious times there is no need for personal attacks.”
Cayetano maintains nothing he said is offensive saying he is perplexed by Inouye’s response.
“What is there to apologize about? This is a campaign. I said some things and I don’t think what I said should be taken by someone who is as experienced as the senator as offensive. For crying out loud, people say worse things about me every day,” Cayetano said. “Maybe it is because no one ever criticizes him for anything.”
“When I said that he (Inouye) is misinformed about rail, I meant it. I don’t think he knows a lot about it. And that is why I tried to make the point that he is dealing with national and international world affairs and basically has not gotten into the nitty gritty of what the rail project is all about,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano noted when he started the mayoral campaign, he tried to reach out to Inouye by letter, explaining his positions on rail and why he is running for mayor but there was no response.
Between attacks coming from Go Rail Go, all the union power, Pacific Resource Partnership, Move Oahu Forward, Imua Rail, HART, two well funded mayoral opponents, and U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, the third most powerful man in the federal government, does Cayetano feel like he is being ganged up on?
“I feel excited. I feel like this can be a transforming election, where people can take back the government. That is how I feel about this. Because for the first time in all of my nine elections, I have been through 8 already, the power is all on the other side,” Cayetano said.
“I have been in this game long enough to know that there is something going on. And I think that in the end, I don’t care how much they spend, they are going to spend $15 to $20 million, they will outspend us 20-1, but we have the facts on our side and the people on our side.”
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