Lingle aggravated by Senate inquiries
Gov. Linda Lingle is protesting a state Senate investigation into bids for a research contract, and her attorney general is resisting a second one into how the Superferry was exempted from an environmental impact statement.
The Senate is investigating how Ted Liu, her director of the Business and Economic Development Department, awarded a $10 million contract to a company to provide venture capital investment for research into using hydrogen as a renewable fuel.
Liu initially picked the lowest-ranked bidder, H2 Energy LLC, for the contract, but complaints to the state procurement office forced Liu to award the contract to the first-ranked bidder, Kolohala Holdings LLP.
Despite the reversal, the Senate passed a resolution setting up an investigative committee headed by Sen. Donna Kim, who has started subpoenaing witnesses and holding hearings.
Lingle wants Kim dropped from the committee, charging that Kim "displays a lack of tolerance, patience and courtesy."
"These opinions should not be used as a basis for a vendetta against a certain department, agency or individual under the guise of an 'investigative committee,'" Lingle said in a letter to Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
In her letter, Lingle said Kim wrote a critical opinion piece for the Honolulu Advertiser and "cast aspersions" about Liu's department in a letter to her constituents.
Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) rejected Lingle's request.
"The governor is taking an active role in trying to interfere with our investigation," Hanabusa said, calling it a issue of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch. "Sen. Kim was selected to lead the investigation. I can only assume she must be hitting a nerve," Hanabusa said.
Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Halawa) said, "I could not do this by myself if I were biased. It takes the whole committee to vote on it."
In another controversy, the Lingle administration has been resisting a legislative auditor's investigation into how the state exempted the Hawaii Superferry from the need for an environmental impact statement.
Last week Marion Higa, legislative auditor, wrote to Hanabusa and House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) to say her report would be late.
The law that authorized the Superferry to sail also called for the auditor's investigation and for the Lingle administration to cooperate.
"We have encountered significant delays and a variety of roadblocks in conducting our audit task," Higa said.
The attorney general's office had said that it would only turn over documents that were not protected under the attorney-client privilege laws and has been reviewing documents.
Lingle declined yesterday to talk about the letter, saying she did not know about it.
Hanabusa, however, said Lingle should be aware of the conditions because she had signed the bill into law.
"It is clear from what she (Higa) is saying that she has not been able to get the cooperation on the records. I am sure the attorney general has his own opinion.
"The governor, by signing the law, acknowledges that we are supposed to get this report," Hanabusa said.
She said Senate leaders would meet with the state House leadership regarding the Superferry investigation.