December 10th, 2009 :: Permalink
I'm in agreement with WooWoo821 regarding Say. If the details and allegations are correct he should resign or be removed.
On the other hand I have written previously about earmarks. These are frequently a way for minority interests or smaller groups to do some horse-trading in our legislative forum. Whether on a particular amendment to a bill or the final bill itself, this process allows a representative to demand some attention for his/her district in return for supporting the larger initiative. I consider this American democracy.
As I pointed out in our last discussion earmarks linked to the $623B in military appropriations worked out to some 0.8% of the total. I know there is greater waste in the $623B bill than the amount of the earmarks. Thus earmarks by themselves are a non-issue.
The important point David poses is whether the specific $3.5M earmark sponsored by Rep. Abercrombie for Pacific Biodiesel (PB) violates ethical standards. It clearly does not violate legal statutes.
We must consider some key questions:
1) Was the earmark hidden from the public?
2) Was the relationship between Abercrombie and PB hidden from the public?
3) Was the earmark a payback for previous donations to Abercrombie's campaign?
4) Was the earmark provided to PB to earn future contributions to Abercrombie's campaign?
5) Is the earmark intended for a legitimate program?
The earmark was not hidden (1); the relationship was not hidden (2); the earmark appears to be intended for a legitimate program (5).
We do not have sufficient information to know if this is payola. PB has apparently donated for years and their founder has a long history of supporting Abercrombie. Thus it is hard in my opinion to claim unethical behavior.
Let's put this in perspective: In Election 2000 Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State, was the co-chair of George W. Bush's Florida election campaign. We know how this vote count turned out ...
In Election 2004 Ken Blackwell held dual roles as Chief Elections Official of Ohio and co-chair of the Committee to re-elect George W. Bush. Ohio was the pivotal state in 2004. Many believe Ohio, and thus the election, was stolen ...
We look the other way when da Big Boys blur lines of conflict of interest - with disastrous results to the nation and world - yet bring the hammer down on our own representative who secures funding for a pilot project that could improve biodiesel in the islands.
Such a program could create jobs locally, reduce our dependence on imported non-renewable energy and help Hawai'i diversify our economy.
I believe we should evaluate Rep. Abercrombie on the merits of the PB program. Biofuel offers great promise for Hawai'i and America. Since we have unclear lines how one can support a candidate I do consider this attack on Abercrombie and PB to be a manini concern.