came after me
The failed gubernatorial hopeful
wonders why the state during her
campaign joined a federal environ-
mental suit against Maui
Lingle predicts top Democrats will switch partiesBy Mike Yuen
Linda Lingle, who lost to Gov. Ben Cayetano by 5,200 votes last year, has accused former Attorney General Margery Bronster of abusing her authority in an attempt to derail the Lingle campaign.
"She is part of the one-party, Democrat machine," charged Lingle, the former Maui mayor who is now chairwoman of the state Republican Party and who has made no secret of her desire to mount another gubernatorial bid.
Addressing the Rotary Club of Honolulu yesterday, Lingle said Bronster "came after me" in October, just one month before the general election, by having the state join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a lawsuit that alleged that Maui County's wastewater system was polluting the environment.
In December, a month after Lingle's defeat, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway threw out the state's claims and wondered why the state did not pursue administrative remedies before joining in the EPA's lawsuit.
"They weren't trying to win a case," Lingle insisted. "They were simply trying to create a political problem for their opponent."
Bronster countered: "It's absolute nonsense. It was all but settled. She walked away from a reasonable settlement and decided to fight it. I think that was to make headlines."
Maui's sewage spills were well documented and based on the county's own records, Bronster added. In talks with her deputies, it was all about settling, she added.
Cayetano, through his spokeswoman, branded Lingle's assertions as "ridiculous," adding, "It seems like she has had a hard time adjusting to her loss."
From the start, Lingle has always maintained that the lawsuit by the EPA and the state Health Department was politically motivated. But yesterday was the first time Lingle in a public forum linked Bronster to the "effort to try and damage me politically."
"I can't imagine," Bronster said, "why she's attacking me."
But state Democratic Party Chairman Walter Heen believes he knows why: Lingle fears that Bronster may be a rival in the next gubernatorial race.
Bronster's standing has been elevated following the public firestorm that erupted in late April when the state Senate voted 14-11 to deny her a second four-year term as Hawaii's chief legal officer, Heen noted.
"It appears to me that people out there are touting Margery Bronster for higher office. When I've mentioned offices other than governor, they said it has got to be the top office," Heen recounted. "Some of that must be getting back to Lingle, and she must view that as a threat."
Heen also believes Bronster and Lingle draw support from the same constituency: independent and crossover voters, and people who admire public figures who challenge the status quo.
It was Bronster's investigation of the Bishop Estate, the wealthy charitable trust long seen as having a persuasive -- and even questionable -- influence on island life, that endeared her to isle residents.
Bronster was not mentioned in the speech Lingle delivered, which stressed the need to end the Democrats' one-party domination of the state. Her name surfaced during the question-and-answer period when Lingle was asked if she would consider Bronster as lieutenant governor or attorney general.
"She is not one of my favorite people," Lingle answered tartly. Don't expect Bronster in her administration, Lingle added.
Lingle later told the Star-Bulletin that Bronster was also behind the state's threatened lawsuit over illegal dredging in Maui's Maalaea Harbor.
"She was working to support the person who put her into office," Lingle said of Bronster, "and she was using her office to accomplish that. That office is supposed to be utilized for the general public's welfare, not for political purposes. She clearly knew that her office had no business going into federal court (to join the EPA lawsuit). If there were issues, it was obvious that state court was the place to go."
Asked if she believed that Bronster was acting on orders from Cayetano, Lingle answered, "Your readers can conclude what they like."
Lingle also said some state senators voted "for very good reasons" to oust Bronster, "while others voted the way they did for political purposes."
"I think those who raised the issue of her poor management were right. She is a poor manager. She doesn't allocate office resources well."
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) had "a good reason to vote against her" because instead of looking into questionable balloting procedures as Hanabusa suggested, Bronster questioned the intelligence of Hanabusa's constituents who raised the issue, Lingle said.
Attorney and Bishop Estate critic Beatrice "Beadie" Dawson, who was in the audience, said she was shocked to hear Lingle's attack on Bronster.
While she doesn't have the information to determine if Bronster, as Lingle alleged, had nefarious political motives in having the state join the EPA lawsuit, she has known Bronster as a woman of integrity, Dawson said.
"I have told her that as long as I felt she was dealing completely for the benefit of the Bishop Estate beneficiaries (the students of Kamehameha Schools), then I support her 110 percent," Dawson added.
There will be some earth-shaking, high-profile defections from the Democratic Party into the Republican fold, says state GOP Chairwoman Linda Lingle.
Lingle predicts topStar-Bulletin staff
Democrats to switch parties
Lingle yesterday declined to identify the party-switchers or to say how many have so far committed to becoming Republicans. She also would not say when the new recruits would be publicly announced.
"But I can tell you people are really going to get excited about it," Lingle said. "It's going to cause quite a stir in the state when it happens.
"And it will occur on more than one island."
Next year's election "will not be like any other election" in the state's history, predicted Lingle, whose Hawaii Republican Party has not held the governor's mansion since 1962 and has not controlled the Legislature in more than four decades.
"I expect we (Republicans) will make significant gains," Lingle said.