Lingle blasts
gov’s critique

She says using state workers
to analyze her proposals is illegal

Linda Lingle adds $1.5 million to her war chest

By Richard Borreca

Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle lashed out at Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday, calling his use of state workers to analyze her campaign proposals "outrageous" and "illegal."

"It is laughable that anyone would trust him to analyze anything after he spent the state into the worst financial condition of any governor," Lingle said yesterday.

Cayetano last week e-mailed his Cabinet, asking for details and reaction to Lingle's plan, called "Agenda for a New Beginning."

State Tax Director Marie Okamura researched it and spent about a day getting the information for Cayetano, according to the governor.

Lingle's plan, announced last week, calls for eliminating taxes on medical care and products, restoring the food tax credit, and providing a number of tax credits and incentives.

Based on his administration's analysis, Cayetano said Lingle's plan would cost the state $428 million in revenues over four years and force all state departments to cut spending by 28 percent, if education programs were spared any cuts.

Lingle said the administration did a poor job of studying her plan and, besides, it should not be doing political work on state time.

"It's obviously an illegal use of government resources," Lingle said. "At a time when the state has 85 failing schools, why isn't he getting his state together on that?"

She said: "In the middle of all the federal investigations into the misuse of government time and money, here he is using his staff and computer system to research a political opponent, it is outrageous."

Cayetano narrowly defeated Lingle in 1998 to win a second term as governor. He is barred by the state constitution from seeking a third consecutive term.

At a news conference called yesterday to answer criticism of his news release and research, Cayetano said he is provided information on the state budget and had a right to respond because Lingle had attacked his administration in her brochure.

"If people have a problem with it, file a complaint with the Ethics Commission," Cayetano said.

Larry Meacham, executive director of government watchdog group Common Cause Hawaii, stopped short of saying it was an outright violation, but said Cayetano and his staff should not have worked on the report during state time.

"All the people he sent it to should not be digging up this stuff -- it seems to me at least -- on state time or using state facilities because it seems to shade into the political," he said. "It shouldn't be used for political purposes."

Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Micah Kane said today he will submit a formal complaint to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission this week against Gov. Cayetano for ordering state employees to conduct campaign research for Democrat gubernatorial candidates.

"This is clearly a continuation of the Democrat Party's quest to remain in power at all costs," Kane said.

Shortly after Cayetano released his attack from the governor's office, Democratic Party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba released her own take on the Lingle plan.

"Linda Lingle has yet to articulate any vision other than promoting the Republican agenda," Akiba said. "Hawaii has the good fortune of three strong Democratic candidates who are experienced, passionate and worthy leaders."

The three major Democratic candidates -- Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, state Rep. Ed Case and D.G. "Andy" Anderson -- all said Cayetano was right to have the state review Lingle's plan.

Case said because Cayetano is responsible for maintaining a balanced state budget, "it is entirely appropriate to comment on any plan from any candidate."

"I would welcome and expect him to do the same," he said.

Cayetano, in fact, said his review of the Lingle plan was just the first look at all the plans for governor.

Asked why he did not first look at the plans put out by Anderson, Cayetano said the plan "wasn't as comprehensive as Lingle's plan."

Anderson said Lingle was saying she would find the additional money for the extra tax cuts, but that Cayetano did not believe it was possible.

Anderson said: "To defend his record, he's saying, 'I did, I tried, I can't afford all your goodies ... and baby, you can't either, so stop promising things I know you can't afford. You're trying to make me and my administration look bad.' "

Hirono said she also thought the analysis was proper but that she would have done it quietly and gotten an independent group, such as the Hawaii Tax Foundation, to review the Lingle plan.

Cayetano said he was doing the review because no media reports had looked at the plan, although the Star-Bulletin last week published the reactions of all of Lingle's opponents to her proposals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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