Djou campaign letter aims to help Tam's opponent
City Councilman Charles Djou called fellow Councilman Rod Tam an "embarrassment" and points out his "scandals" in a piece of campaign literature, but they are not even running against each other.
In a letter mailed to Republicans, Djou criticized Tam and encouraged voters to pick Tam's opponent, Mike Wilcox, in the nonpartisan primary election Sept. 23.
"I don't think Rod has necessarily been the most effective, and his conduct as a member of the City Council is something that's certainly raising eyebrows," Djou said yesterday.
Tam said he has tried to keep his campaign positive and has not attacked his opponent.
But Djou's letter, paid for by Wilcox's campaign, is an example of "negative campaigning," and it shows that Djou lacks character, he said.
Djou's motive, Tam said, is more to get back at him for exposing Djou as someone who was playing both sides during the last City Council reorganization.
"So he's upset about that -- sour grapes because he got uncovered," Tam said. "I look upon it whereby he's upset, angry; he wants to get revenge on me."
Djou does not see it the same way.
"Well, there's clearly no love lost between Rod Tam and myself. ... If it makes Rod Tam feel better to say that, that's fine, but the reality is he's just simply a poor city councilmember."
Both Djou and Tam are up for re-election, but Djou does not have an opponent.
The letter points out several Tam "scandals," including being admonished by the state and city ethics commissions for violations of ethics laws, and his overspending when it comes to his office budget.
Wilcox defended the campaign piece.
"It's reminding (voters) of the crazy things that he's done and basically there's a better choice out there," Wilcox said. Producing and sending the letter cost nearly $7,400 and has helped his campaign attract more attention and donations.
The letter was prepared by both Djou and the Hawaii Republican Party.
"The letter was put together by the Hawaii GOP; it was sent through the GOP database. They asked me if it was OK. I reviewed it. I tweaked some of the things in there -- believe it or not, toned it down a little bit," Djou said.
"Mike's a Republican; I am a Republican. Just as I would help Republicans in other races, I don't think that's all that surprising."
Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Sam Aiona said that the party helps out Republican candidates even in nonpartisan races like the City Council elections.
"I think Councilmember Djou's popularity could certainly help when candidates like Mike Wilcox need assistance. I think the councilmember brings up some valid points on why Mike Wilcox should be elected rather than Rod Tam," Aiona said.
Tam said he is not surprised that the Hawaii Republican Party is also behind the letter because "negative attacks, I'm told that's how the Republican Party operates."
Top spender for Council has no rivals
A city councilman is spending the most money in Council elections, even though he has no opposition in his bid for re-election.
Councilman Charles Djou reported $71,481 in expenditures, with more than $60,000 going to television advertising. He is the only incumbent to report spending money on TV ads.
The campaign spending reports, filed before yesterday's deadline, cover the period from July 1 through last Friday.
Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz is also running unopposed. He reported expenditures of $5,910.
"It gives the unopposed candidate the opportunity to let their constituents know about some of the things that they've done," Dela Cruz said. "It also allows the candidates to thank their constituents for helping them do a good job."
Councilmen Rod Tam and Gary Okino face rivals for re-election, but neither has spent more than Djou.
Okino reported spending $18,430, while Tam's expenses were $26,693.
None of their opponents' filings were available online yesterday.
Of the four incumbents, Djou also has the most money remaining in his campaign, $161,250, followed by Tam with $103,866, Dela Cruz with $92,894 and Okino with $86,851.