EXCLUSIVE: Ellison's political clout

EXCLUSIVE: Ellison's political clout

America's third richest man is now one of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's biggest backers.

In May, billionaire Larry Ellison co-hosted two fundraisers in San Francisco, which collected more than $174,000 in political cash, state Campaign Spending Commission records show.

That's about 20 percent of the $885,000 that the Abercrombie camp raised during the first half this year.

Activist said the money will help open doors for Ellison's growing interests in Hawaii, which include hotels, an airline and developments on the island of Lanai. But they said it's no guarantee of political influence.

"Let's face it, people with a lot of money have always had greater access to our political leaders. That's Political Science 101. But our community has learned to be effective in its voice," said Robin Kaye of the Friends of Lanai.

The Abercrombie campaign said the donations will have no influence on government approvals sought by Ellison.

"It is exciting to have a responsible and contributing member of the community like Mr. Ellison as the islands largest landowner," said campaign spokesman Shane Peters.

Abercrombie attended a May 5 event at Ellison's San Francisco home, where VIPs paid up to $6,000 each.

A second, $5,000-per person fundraiser was held the next day at the Waterfront Restaurant and Cafe at San Francisco's Pier 7.

The events were stacked with employees at Ellison's company, Oracle Corp., who contributed more than $27,000.

Consultants and attorneys chipped in another $30,000 while other donors gave about $116,000.

Also among the contributors: employees and vendors involved in the America's Cup Race. They gave about $20,000.

Ellison is working with Abercrombie to bring a future America's Cup race or one of its preliminary races to Hawaii. And he's hoping the help shape the political winds to make that happen.

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