HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An attack mailer against Honolulu mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya has landed in Oahu mailboxes.
The mailer comes from a political action committee that opposes Amemiya, saying he’s part of a “dynasty” that includes former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, incumbent Kirk Caldwell and city managing director Roy Amemiya, who’s the candidate’s cousin.
Amemiya’s campaign blasted the mailer.
“Our campaign has been surging in support and momentum over the last few weeks as we head into the final days of the Primary Election,” said Amemiya’s campaign chairperson, Adam Wong. “Those behind this smear campaign have falsely represented Keith’s record and are misleading the public in an act of desperation.”
The flyer features a photo of Amemiya with the caption, “Who is this person?”
It claims that he was on the police commission when it picked Louis Kealoha as police chief in 2009.
“When I served on the commission, Chief Kealoha wasn’t the chief, and I wasn’t involved in the selection of Chief Kealoha,” said Amemiya, on HNN’s “Job Interview series. Amemiya stepped down from the commission in September 2009. Kealoha was approved as chief the following November.
The mailer also claims Amemiya illegally purchased an apartment meant for low-income buyers at the 801 South Street condominiums.
Amemiya’s campaign web site says he and his wife purchased a market-priced unit at 801 South Street for their son, and are currently renting it out while he is in college.
Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore said such a mailer shows how tight the mayor’s race is, and that Amemiya is being taken very seriously as a contender.
“All this is designed to do is for voters to say, ‘you know, I’m not sure I can support Amemiya, I’ll support somebody else this round,‘” said Moore.
The PAC Aloha ‘Aina ‘Oia’i’o sent the mailer, which states that it was not approved or authorized by any candidate.
Lokahi Cuban said he formed the PAC to show Amemiya’s clear links to what he called “the corruption of the Caldwell and Hannemann administrations.”
Cuban said via email, “From TMT to Sherwood Forest to the Kahuku Wind Farms to the failing rail project, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and city managing director Roy Amemiya ... were dishonest.”
Cuban also said, “We are being bombarded daily with misleading big-money advertisements attempting to portray Keith as ‘fresh new leadership,' but if elected he will do nothing but continue this culture of corruption and deceit that is destroying our lands, hurting our people and adding billions of dollars in additional deficits.
Cuban is also a former campaign volunteer for mayoral candidate Colleen Hanabusa. Hanabusa issued a statement, saying, “I have no affiliation with that organization,, no knowledge of its activities and haven’t had any recent contact with Mr. Cuban.”
Hanabusa also said she called Amemiya to let him know that she had nothing to do with the mailer.
“This smear campaign is an example of politics-as-usual antics that turn voters off,” said Wong.
The PAC sent out a revised flyer, which now says that Amemiya withdrew his support of then-police chief Boisse Correa, Kealoha’s predecessor when he was up for possible reappointment. But it still raises questions about Amemiya’s purchase of the unit at 801 South Street.
“People are tired of dirty politics and are looking for a change in the way things are done,” said Wong. “Keith is determined to bring about that change despite the forces that have assembled to stop him.”
Wong added, “Our campaign will continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard and to the principles of integrity and honesty.”
As for the link with the previous administrations, that’s something Moore said Amemiya can’t avoid.
“This attack flyer, while I think it’s unfair in many ways, I think it will draw attention to the fact that he’s really not an outsider in this race, in local politics,” said Moore.
The PAC already has a television ad that is ready to hit the airwaves on Thursday.