Governor was duped
by con woman
The case of confidence huckster Bev Harbin, who duped the governor into appointing her to the state Legislature, has finally reached the stage of ridiculousness necessary to win it mention in this space.
Harbin accomplished something rarely seen in Hawaii -- she's managed to tick off just about everybody: Democrats, Republicans, the governor, legislators, reporters, humor columnists, communists, anarchists, Scientologists, fantasy football enthusiasts, the weird dude who lives down my street and, I believe, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. That's a lot of bad juju.
Harbin continues to ignore all calls for her resignation, insisting that she now owes only a duty to her constituents, a level of self-delusion quite remarkable considering her alleged constituents don't even know who the hell she is.
If you haven't been following this bit of bad political theater, here's the deal: An opening came up in the Legislature. Because the vacating representative was a Democrat, Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, was honor bound to appoint another Democrat. But hoping also to appoint someone who shared her concerns about small business, she picked Harbin, a well-known small-business rabble-rouser around the Capitol.
Lingle's selection process was, to put it mildly, lax. To put it harshly, it was insanely inept. But what Lingle's selection committee lacked in thoroughness, Harbin more than made up for in duplicity.
The first warning sign that maybe Harbin wasn't going to be greeted with love in the Legislature is that she had only been a Democrat for about 43 minutes before she was selected. After making the appointment, Lingle learned that Harbin had not been much of a small-business person either, failing to pay the state $123,000 in back taxes. But that was nothing compared with what Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca uncovered. Not only was Harbin a tax scofflaw, but a law scofflaw as well. Turns out she was convicted of three counts of writing bad checks and received a suspended prison sentence.
So, Harbin was not really a Democrat, not really Republican, not really a small-business person, not really a taxpayer and, as it turns out, not really honest.
Her tax dispute with the state and her misdemeanor check kiting activities are minor compared with the fact that she lied to get her legislative appointment. Not only lied, but lied to the governor of the state, who, last time I checked, had an attorney general working for her who frowns on such things.
She lied because she said nothing when asked by Lingle's chief of staff, Bob Awana, on four different occasions before her appointment if there was anything in her background that would embarrass the governor.
While we can all agree the governor's background check apparatus needs some improvement, we also can agree that Bev Harbin is a grifter who conned the governor.
The sad thing is that I am always urging more small-business owners to run for the Legislature so that their concerns are represented within a group of people who generally have never held a real job. That the governor's first appointment of a "small-business owner" turns out to be a common con woman is disheartening. That the grifter won't resign even though she's embarrassed herself, the governor, the state and, I believe, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Human Services Tommy Thompson, is ridiculous. Constituents? Bev, other than other various tax delinquents, check bouncers, grifters, hucksters, misdemeanants and liars, you represent no one.
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org