Thursday, July 8, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Let voters choose attorney
general, GOP caucus says

By Mike Yuen


Seeing Earl Anzai's nomination for attorney general as "political gamesmanship" between Gov. Ben Cayetano and the Senate, House Republicans have renewed their push for having Hawaii's chief legal officer elected, rather than appointed.

"The stakes are too high for the office of the attorney general to be a political football," the 12-member House GOP caucus said in a statement released yesterday.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Margery Bronster said she is confident that Anzai would perform admirably as her successor.

House Assistant Minority Floor Leader Paul Whalen (R, Kailua-Kona) said: "The (attorney general) should be accountable to the people of Hawaii, not to a particular person or political party. Regardless of the qualifications of Mr. Anzai, this appointment is suspect because it has the appearance of political gamesmanship."

Caught off-guard

Cayetano announced Tuesday that he had selected Anzai as attorney general. Anzai's selection surprised many lawmakers and political observers since it defies conventional wisdom for a governor to submit for confirmation someone who already has been rejected for a Cabinet post. In late April, the Senate voted 15-10 to deny Anzai a second four-year term as budget director. The Senate also didn't believe Bronster was worthy of continuing as attorney general, voting 14-11 to oust her.

Cayetano said he wasn't trying to aggravate his already shaky relationship with the Senate by submitting Anzai's name.

In Senate's hands

Although House Republicans are weighing in on Anzai's nomination, it is only the Senate that confirms or rejects Cabinet appointees.

Republican Floor Leader David Pendleton (R, Kailua) said: "An elected attorney general would help to restore voters' confidence that their government is directly responsible to them, and not to a body of legislators caught in the throes of a political battle with the administration.

"The Senate, mindful of the public firestorm unleashed by their rejection of Margery Bronster and Earl Anzai earlier this year, will be torn between re-election considerations and what is best for our state."

House Republicans promised to reintroduce in next year's legislative session a bill calling for a constitutional amendment making the attorney general elective.


Here are comments the Star-Bulletin received in response to the question: What do you think of Gov. Ben Cayetano's nomination of Earl Anzai to be attorney general?

Jim Warren, Makiki: "I just think it's more cronyism. I think it's defiance of the governor of the will of the people and the mind of the Senate to put this man back in there. They vote him out with a no confidence. What makes me feel that he'd be any better in this situation? I don't believe so. It just grieves me the way things are going. It's a Democratic dictatorship."

Wilson Pang, Nuuanu: "I don't think Anzai should be the attorney general because he answers to the governor, and I don't think he should be answering to anybody."

Ron Jervis, McCully: "First of all, picture the scenario: (Mazie) Hirono would be the interim governor, maybe Anzai the lieutenant governor, and let's say the fastest Democratic cat in the state, Cayetano, should be made the attorney general. You see this way he could do his true job by going out and head-hunting innocent Hawaiians and institutions, at our expense, of course."

Rul Weigel, Aiea: "I've always thought that Frank Fasi was the most spiteful and arrogant politician Hawaii had ever had. But it looks like the torch has now been passed. Congratulations, Ben."

Eli Kawai, Kakaako: "A very crafty, clever, appointment. I applaud the governor's foxy, ingenious move. To use an analogy, he replaced a pit bull with an Akita fighting dog. Had he appointed any other politico, he would have been accused of giving Mr. Anzai the benefits of the so-called 'high-three' for retirement purposes. This is not the case, however."

Jackie Parnell, Makiki: "When we read this, the first thing we said was 'Way to go, Ben.' He's the governor of the state. The senators don't run the state. He's the governor. He has the right to pick the most qualified people, and they can just figure out how to handle it."

Randi Porras-Tang, Kahala: "I think this nomination indicates that the governor is spiteful and vindictive and he will continue to be so because there's no vested interest in our future. He's leading more people to become Republicans and vote Republican."

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