Wednesday, July 7, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Former state budget director Earl Anzai talks with reporters
yesterday afternoon after Gov. Ben Cayetano nominated him
to be the next state attorney general.

Timing is
everything in Anzai

The move will remind voters
in an election year of what happened
to Anzai and Bronster

Bullet Reader reaction: What our online readers have to say.
Bullet About Earl Anzai: His experience and education.
Bullet His way: Anzai has a reputation for being the bearer of bad news.
Bullet Mine field: Senate faces a political minefield.
Bullet Senators speak: Several speculate on Anzai's chances for confirmation.

By Mike Yuen and Rick Daysog


Earl Anzai's nomination as attorney general may be accompanied by a dubious distinction: becoming the state's first one-time Cabinet member subsequently rejected twice by the Senate.

But if Gov. Ben Cayetano's high-risk gamble of selecting Anzai pays off, Cayetano will get one of his most trusted and longtime political allies back on his leadership team.

Timing -- when Anzai's confirmation is held -- could be the key to determining Anzai's fate.

If the Senate were to vote on Anzai's nomination today, his selection would face stiff resistance, perhaps even rejection, said several senators who were part of the majority that voted 15-10 in late April to oust Anzai as state budget director.

"You know the process isn't going to be smooth sailing," said Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae), who voted against Anzai and is inclined to vote against him again.

But with the likelihood of a special legislative session this summer now shaky because the House and Senate are far apart on what bills should be considered, it appears unlikely the Senate will soon be considering Anzai's selection.

That would push Anzai's confirmation hearings back to next year's regular session. And that would give him, acknowledged Anzai, six months to establish a track record as the attorney general-designate and to lobby his case with senators.

It would also come during an election year, putting senators on their heels, Hanabusa said. Seven senators who voted against Anzai are up for re-election.

"I don't know if it is (Cayetano's way of getting) in your face or flashing the finger, but I think it is definitely sending a message to the Senate that he wants us to have a difficult time with this and to keep the public reminded of what has happened," Hanabusa said.

She was referring to the Senate's unpopular refusal to confirm Anzai and Margery Bronster to their second four-terms as budget chief and attorney general, respectively.

"It's not a way to try and mend fences and move forward," Hanabusa added.

Cayetano said he wasn't trying "to aggravate" his already shaky relationship with the Senate.

"I don't ask the Senate for permission to make appointments," Cayetano added. "I'll make an appointment, and it's the best person for the job, I believe.

"If the senators are going to turn (Anzai) down, then I hope they would have the decency to stand up on the Senate floor and say why."

Via The Internet

You Make The Call



These comments were received via e-mail in response to the Star-Bulletin's online question: What do you think of Gov. Cayetano's nomination of Earl Anzai to be attorney general?

'Anzai for attorney general?
What's next, Bronster for
budget director?
Rolf Nordahl


'To the fat cats who think
they're above the laws, Ben Cayetano
says "Eh, wop your jaws!" Anzai
will finish what Bronster's begun.
And he's not going to stop
until justice is done.'

Mark A. LaBarre


'Incredible! Does a political ally
make for a good attorney general?
Who knows, but you got to give
Cayetano credit for showing up the
Senate. Now, obviously, Bronster
should be picked to replace Anzai in
his old position. On the other hand,
this game of musical chairs is nothing
new for the Cayetano administration
(see insurance commissioner, et al.)
so it shouldn't come as a surprise.
James Ko


'I believe it is a good idea to have
Anzai confirmed as attorney general
because of his litigation and fiscal
experience. He has always been a
"straight from the hip shooter" and
confronts all situations fairly. It has
been my privilege to meet and work
around both Earl Anzai and his wife,
Lyn Anzai, at different law firms.
Found them both to be dedicated
type of people. Gov. Ben Cayetano
made a wise decision.'

Alma Brinston-Smith


When Anzai was ousted as budget czar, it was a lightning-quick political execution in which only two lawmakers -- Senate Ways and Means Co-Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) and Sen. Rod Tam (D, Pauoa) -- spoke against him. No one rose to his defense.

Anzai said he doesn't see Cayetano using him as a pawn in a game of brinkmanship with the Senate. Cayetano "agonized over (the nomination). That's why it came so late in the game," Anzai said.

Cayetano has acknowledged that he has had trouble finding someone to be the state's chief legal officer. The people he considered before settling on Anzai either didn't want the intense public scrutiny, the major cut in pay or were saddled with perceived conflicts of interest, Cayetano said.

Anzai said it was Saturday when Cayetano first approached him about the job.

"I was a little surprised. We hadn't talked about it before," Anzai said yesterday after an hourlong meeting with supervisors in the attorney general's office shortly after his nomination was announced.

Senators, too, were also surprised, even shocked. But for different reasons.

"I think it's a slap in the face to us," said Senate Minority Leader Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua), who voted against Anzai and Bronster and who is up for re-election next year.

"I believe that he thinks the opinion of the people is that we have to confirm him or we will look bad again," said Anderson, who vowed to once more vote against Anzai's confirmation.

Sen. Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley) said: "The governor has done this, I think, to stick his thumb in the eye of the Senate and the public."

Slom, who is also up for re-election, voted against Anzai and for Bronster with reservations. He is against Anzai's confirmation as attorney general.

Senate President Norman Mizuguchi (D, Aiea) said he wants Cayetano to explain why he is nominating someone who was earlier rejected by the Senate. Mizuguchi, who voted against Anzai and Bronster, declined to say how he would vote if Anzai was up for confirmation today.

Senators who questioned Anzai's latest nomination said when he was budget director, he ignored or deliberately skirted an attorney general's legal opinion that stated that an administration can't use budget restrictions to balance the state budget. Someone who acted in such a manner, is not qualified to be the state's chief law enforcement officer, they said.

"Earl Anzai should be afforded a fair hearing and a clean slate," Sen. Hanabusa said. "But I cannot ignore the fact that Mr. Anzai has admitted to simply failing to remember or refusing to follow the former attorney general's edicts on what you should do to balance budget," she added.

Anzai countered that while senators who have been his "prosecutors, judge and jury all at once" have often repeated that charge, they don't bother to repeat his rebuttal -- that he did follow the law.

Bronster said an administration can restrict spending if cost-cutting legislation and tax revenues fall short of projections; it cannot impose restrictions unilaterally during the budget formulation process when the Legislature has a role in crafting the state budget.

"I just hope the Senate, if it does not confirm him, has better reasons than it had with me," said Bronster, who was accused of mismanagement and of only paying attention to big-splash cases.

Two other senators who voted against Anzai and Bronster, Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu) and Tam, said they were open to Anzai's nomination.

"It's a new ballgame," Kawamoto said.

"I just want to see how good his credentials are and how they tie up with the duties of the attorney general," he added. Anzai has demonstrated good management skills in running the Budget Department, Kawamoto said.

Senate Judiciary Co-Chairman Avery Chumbley (D, Kihei) said: "I don't know Earl Anzai, the attorney. I know Earl Anzai, the budget director. We'll have to see what the reaction is in the legal community, the people who have to work with the state.

"I think Earl has always been straightforward. He tells it like it is. He doesn't sugarcoat it.

"It'll be interesting to see how this plays out."

But, added Chumbley's fellow Judiciary co-chairman, Sen. Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo), "I think it'll be a challenge for the Senate to put aside (Anzai's) rejection as budget director and focus on his appointment as attorney general."

Both Chumbley and Matsunaga voted for Anzai and Bronster.

Randy Roth, the University of Hawaii law professor who co-authored the scathing critique of the Bishop Estate that led to the state's investigation of the influential and wealthy charitable trust, said: "I think (Anzai) will be a no-nonsense attorney general who can be depended upon to call things as he sees them. I think he'll do an excellent job."

Roth stressed that he was not speaking as president of the Hawaii State Bar Association. The bar's 19-member board of directors has yet to take a position on Anzai's selection, he said.

When Anzai was asked to assess his chances for winning Senate confirmation as attorney general, he said he's the wrong person to query because he had thought he would be confirmed to another term as budget chief.

"I thought it would be close -- but not the way it turned out," Anzai said.

About Earl Anzai


Bullet 1995-May 1999: State budget director
Bullet June 1993-Jan. 1995: Owner, law office of Earl I. Anzai
Bullet January 1990-November 1994: Special counsel, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Bullet October 1988-June 1993: Partner, Anzai & Evangelista fka Anzai Ahn Holt & Evangelista fka Anzai Holt & Evangelista
Bullet April 1988-December 1994: Arbitrator, Court Appointed Arbitration Program and privately appointed arbitrator
Bullet January 1987-May 1987: Chief counsel, Committee on Judiciary, state Senate
Bullet September 1983-October 1988: Senior associate, Schutter & Glickstein, attorneys at law
Bullet May 1982-August 1983: Law clerk, Oahu Circuit Court
Bullet April 1982-February 1983: Attorney/chief investigator, Special Senate Committee Investigating the Pesticide Heptachlor in Milk, state Senate
Bullet Jan. 1981-July 1981 and Jan. 1982-April 1982: Committee clerk, Committee on Health, state Senate
Bullet June 1978-September 1978: Committee clerk, Committee on Environment, Agriculture, Conservation, and Land, Constitutional Convention of 1978, State of Hawaii
Bullet January 1979-January 1981: Chief clerk/staff director, state Senate Ways and Means Committee
Bullet September 1975-June 1976: Special assistant to the executive director, Comprehensive Planning Organization of San Diego
Bullet July 1970-July 1975: Senior legislative analyst, state Office of the Legislative Auditor
Bullet September 1968-July 1970: Management analyst/investigator, U.S. General Accounting Office, Far East Branch
Bullet June 1967-September 1977: Planning program coordinator, Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization


Bullet Law degree, December 1981, University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
Bullet Enrolled in Ph.D. program in agricultural economics, 1966-1968, University of Hawaii-Manoa
Bullet Master's degree in economics, June 1966, University of Hawaii-Manoa
Bullet Bachelor's degree in economics, January 1964, University of Hawaii-Manoa
Bullet Undergraduate study at Emory University, Atlanta, and Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore.
Bullet Graduate of Kahuku High School.

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