HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent Los Angeles Times article quotes Gov. Neil Abercrombie questioning a "dying wish" letter he received from the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, recommending his successor be U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
"Whether or not this could be construed as Sen. Inouye's dying wish -- let me put it this way -- is problematic," he's quoted as saying.
We asked Abercrombie if that meant he believes the letter did not come directly from Inouye.
"I'm not going to comment on anything like that," he said. "That's up to the people who put it together."
"To question the letter and Dan's last wishes is disrespectful to Dan, to me and to his family, friends and former staff," Inouye's widow Irene Hirano Inouye said.
Abecrombie appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. He said Inouye told him several times the choice was up to him.
"He made it very clear to me that I could get a lot of advice, including his, a lot of counsel on it. But in the end I had to make up my mind on the basis of what I thought was in the best interests of the people of Hawaii," he said.
But Irene Inouye said Abercrombie had led her to believe he would follow her husband's desire.
"Upon my arrival at the Hawaii State Capitol to accompany Dan's casket to lie in state, the governor met me at the car and he gave me every indication that he was going to honor Dan's wishes," she said.
She said Inouye's Chief of Staff Jennifer Sabas also heard it.
University of Hawaii political science professor Colin Moore said Abercrombie may have thought the L.A. Times article was a chance to put to rest the ghost of Inouye's "dying wish." Instead he may have resurrected it.
"He could have very easily been quiet about it and let this blow over," Moore said. "But it seems now that he in some ways has fanned the flames of this controversy."
"It was the governor's decision to make," Irene Inouye said. "But I felt, based on what he had said to me, the appointment would have been different."
"I was well aware of the regard which (Sen. Inouye) had for Rep. Hanabusa, which I share," Abercrombie said.