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Thursday, March 9, 2000

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board Chairman Clayton Hee
testifies in support of Earl Anzai at his friend's confirmation
hearing for attorney general yesterday. Realizing that he
neglected to bring his reading glasses, Hee borrows
a pair from Anzai.

Anzai nomination
near confirmation

By Richard Borreca


Some supporters called him gruff or blunt, but last year's controversy surrounding Earl Anzai quieted enough that Anzai's nomination as attorney general appears headed for easy confirmation.

After a two-hour hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators moved to send Anzai's nomination to the Senate for a confirmation vote.

Legislature 2000 Yesterday's action came as Anzai recalled how last year the same Senate rejected him as state budget director.

Speaking about Gov. Ben Cayetano's decision to push the issue of the rejection by sending his name back down for confirmation to an even more powerful and prestigious position, Anzai admitted it was risky.

"I understand, you understand and I assume the entire state understands it was a controversial position to take," he said.

Anzai took office more than eight months ago.

He noted that while his predecessor, Margery Bronster, who was also denied confirmation last year, had been criticized for delaying legal opinions, micromanaging the department and allegedly attempting to set policy with legal opinions, he was running a legal office designed to quickly turn around opinions.

"Nothing will sit on my desk for more than 24 hours, unless I have a problem with it," he said.

Anzai added that he has sent opinions back if he felt a deputy attorney general was attempting to set state policy with an opinion.

Perhaps his harshest critic on the Judiciary Committee, Republican Sen. Whitney Anderson, said Anzai is "doing a damn fine job."

Anderson added, however, that he had "philosophical differences" about the attorney general's office.

Anderson, whose wife used to work for Bishop Estate and has been a political ally of former House Speaker Henry Peters, who is under indictment for his dealing as a Bishop Estate trustee, has repeatedly criticized the state's Bishop Estate investigation.

Peters submitted testimony opposing Anzai's appointment. He noted that he is suing Anzai and Bronster for indicting "innocent people and tainting the grand jury process."

Anzai also won the support of both the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers, two public employee unions that have criticized the Cayetano administration for its civil service reform measures.

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