JIM DOOLEY – Since 1999, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has spent $3.44 million on an unsuccessful Washington D.C. lobbying effort seeking passage of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka’s Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, according to U.S. Senate lobbying records.
The total does not include an estimated $2 million spent by OHA to operate a Washington D.C. office, and it excludes travel and other expenses incurred by OHA officials on trips to the capital to urge passage of the Akaka Bill.
OHA has never itemized those additional expenses, although chief executive Clyde Namu’o said in 2006 the agency spent some $900,000 to operate the Washington office from 2003 to 2006.
The OHA spending has far outstripped all other Washington lobbying efforts undertaken by Hawaii-based interests during the past 10 years.
The high-water year for OHA spending was 2005, when it’s chief Washington lobbyist, Patton Boggs, spent $660,000 on Akaka Bill activities, according to the Senate lobbying database.
All told, Patton Boggs spent $3.19 million from 2003 through last year on Akaka bill lobbying activities, including contacts with officials at the White House, Senate, House of Representatives and Departments of Justice and Interior, according to disclosure forms.
The lead OHA lobbyist at the firm has been Thomas H. “Tommy” Boggs Jr., an influential Washington figure with close family and professional connections to the Democratic Party.
OHA’s Akaka-bill efforts have also pursued by another Patton Boggs partner, Benjamin Ginsberg, a personal friend of Karl Rove, the Republican Party stalwart who was President George W. Bush’s chief political advisor.
Rove’s personal attorney, Robert Luskin, is also a partner in the Patton Boggs firm.
Patton Boggs subcontracted some of its OHA lobbying work in 2006 to another firm with close ties to the then-Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Bill Frist.
All of the lobbying efforts and spending came to naught. The Akaka bill was never scheduled for a vote in the Senate.
Before signing with Patton Boggs in 2003, OHA used the lobbying services of another once-influential firm, Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson and Hand, to promote Native Hawaiian interests n Washington, including self-determination proposals.
Verner Liipfert received $310,000 from OHA from 1999-2001.
One of the firm’s lobbyists was former Hawaii Gov. John Waihee.
OHA annual lobbying expenditures:
* includes $20,000 to law firm Zell & Cox
Source: U.S. Senate Lobbying Database http://www.senate.gov/legislative/Public_Disclosure/LDA_reports.htm