Authorities must find origin of disgraceful e-mail smear
A political smear e-mail message has been sent from the Honolulu Liquor Commission's computer system.
SMEARS have tarnished Hawaii elections too often in past years, and an e-mail sent to the Star-Bulletin
from the Honolulu Liquor Commission's computer system is the latest. The city should determine not only who sent the e-mail but the origin of the false insinuations it contained, and take appropriate action.
The e-mail questioned whether Rep. Ed Case's wife, Audrey, is related to Jennifer Toma Bainum, wife of former City Councilman Duke Bainum. Bainum blamed his loss in the 2004 mayoral election on "false and vicious" allegations made via the Internet against his wife.
The mainstream media did not report the Bainum- related allegations, which had to do with an eight-year-old dispute between his wife and the family of an elderly man for whom she had been caretaker. The e-mail from the Liquor Commission questioned whether Audrey Case is related to Jennifer Bainum; she is not.
City employees are not allowed to use city computers for political purposes. Liquor Commission Administrator Dewey Kim said the agency will investigate the incident and "take all appropriate steps to sanction. This should not have happened."
Case is challenging incumbent Daniel Akaka in the U.S. Senate race, and a spokesman for the Akaka campaign denied any knowledge of the e-mail or recognition of the name of the commission staffer listed as its sender. Case said he had "no reason whatsoever to believe or disbelieve" the spokesman's statement.
Monitoring smear tactics is difficult if not impossible. A voluntary, bipartisan watchdog committee, called the Clean Campaigns Project, was formed in 2004 to deter negative campaigning and identify inaccuracies. The project was not renewed for this year's election.
Prior to the sending of the e-mail, Case was livid about the Akaka camp's assertion late in the campaign that he tried as a state senator to reduce or eliminate programs that benefit Hawaiians and deny sovereignty and federal recognition. Actually, Case has been a longtime supporter of Hawaiian sovereignty and proposed in the Legislature that Hawaiian agencies be consolidated into a single, nonprofit trust, separate from government and under Hawaiian control.
The Akaka campaign's depiction of Case's record on Hawaiian issues was a distortion. It was first put forth more than a month ago in an e-mail written by the law partner of Akaka's campaign chairman and sent to thousands of Kamehameha Schools alumni. Case has had ample opportunity to respond and has done so.
Hardball in interpreting opponents' views and records is part of politics, but resurrection of the Clean Campaigns Project would be welcome to monitor honesty. Reckless and slanderous tactics spread through whisper or the Internet are likely to occur regardless of such an effort.