Lingle would continue
She says her friendshipBy Rick Daysog
with trustee Henry Peters' mother
would not influence her decision
on the investigation
Maui Mayor Linda Lingle says she would continue the state's investigation into Bishop Estate's trustees if elected governor in November.
But one estate critic questioned the Republican gubernatorial candidate's commitment, pointing to the prominent role of Hoaliku Drake, mother of Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters, in Lingle's campaign.
Lingle told the Star-Bulletin that she would have begun the investigation into the multibillion-dollar Bishop Estate long ago, but would have brought it to a head much sooner to cut down on costly litigation and preserve the assets of the trust.
Lingle said her friendship with Drake would not prevent her from pursuing charges against individual trustees if an investigation were to turn up financial wrongdoing or breaches of trust.
"My personal friendships will never stop me from doing the right thing or stop me from doing what's right for the people of this state," Lingle said.
Since May, Drake, a Democrat, has served as a member of the Republican mayor's honorary campaign committee.
Drake, former chairwoman of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, also has been featured prominently in Lingle's recent television advertisements.
Donne Dawson -- spokeswoman for Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi, which represents more than 3,000 Kamehameha Schools alumni, parents and students -- questioned whether Lingle would pursue an aggressive investigation of the trustees given Drake's role in her campaign.
Dawson added that many of Lingle's Republican followers support state Attorney General Margery Bronster's investigation and would think twice about backing Lingle if she were to curtail an inquiry.
"As we get closer to the election, (Lingle) is going to have to draw a hard line in the sand," Dawson said.
The reaction to Drake's involvement in the Lingle campaign underscores the growing role of the Bishop Estate controversy in the November elections.
Bishop Estate's five trustees are prominent Democrats. But some Democratic Party officials are wary that trustees might support candidates outside the party after Gov. Ben Cayetano ordered the investigation in August, and Drake's involvement has caught their attention.
"Obviously, there is concern that this might be a move by one or more trustees to advance the cause of Linda Lingle," said Walter Heen, Democratic Party chairman and co-author of the "Broken Trust" article that criticized the trustees' management of the estate.
"But all indications show that they're solidly holding to the Democratic Party."
Often described as an independent, Drake said she feels Lingle is the best person for the job, and that the issues involving Bishop Estate have never come up in her discussions with the mayor.
Drake said she's known Lingle since 1991 when Lingle first was elected as mayor. Drake, who at the time headed the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, said she often worked closely with Lingle, who she said went out of her way to help native Hawaiians.
"She impressed me that day as being someone who was willing -- if need be -- to stick her neck out to get her job done," Drake said. Drake said she hasn't discussed her support of Lingle with her son, who continues to support the Democratic Party and was a delegate to the party's state convention last month.
She declined to comment on the state's investigation, but said that much of the criticism of the estate raised by groups like Na Pua reflect a vocal minority of Hawaiians, not a majority.
Lingle, meanwhile, said Drake is one of more than a dozen community leaders backing her campaign for governor. Other committee members include former U.S. Sen Hiram Fong, who is serving as committee chairman, and former Chaminade University basketball coach Merv Lopes.
Bishop Estate Archive