'Pay-to-Play' Corruption a Hawaii Campaign Theme

Screenshot of Tulsi Gabbard commercial

UPDATED 8/3/2012 8 a.m. Editor's Note: Tulsi Gabbard's campaign briefly blocked access to her commercial on YouTube, but it is now available again.


Those three little words have become code for the good-ol'-boy, closed-door politics of yesteryear. It's a serious allegation, and it's popping up in a second major race as the primary election approaches.

The specter of campaign-contributions-for-government-contracts corruption first emerged this year as a major issue in the Honolulu mayoral campaign. Now it's leaking into the Democratic race for Congress.

The Pacific Resource Partnership made pay-to-play the central tenet of its attack campaign against anti-rail Honolulu mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano. Critical advertisements and the ensuing back-and-forth have been covered at great length in this space and elsewhere. (See the related articles on the right side of the page for a sampling.)

Now, Tulsi Gabbard is trying to make political hay out of pay-to-play and leaving it to voters to find the connection to Mufi Hannemann, her main opponent in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary. A new commercial released last week is titled and starts with those three ominous words.

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