Groups: Pono Isn't Being Pono

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

An unusual alliance is targeting Hawaii House Majority Leader Pono Chong in the District 48 race, arguing that the candidate has distorted his record and is misleading voters.

The alliance — the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly — on Friday launched to highlight a slew of mailers paid for by the Chong campaign.

But says the mailers are really funded by "special interests such as Hawaiian Electric, Tesoro, and developers in an effort to disguise his real record." Those are contributors to his campaign.

In reality, according to the alliance, he has not been friendly to the environment, education and the economy. The Sierra Club's Robert Harris, for example, said Chong tried to gut incentives that could destroy the solar industry in the islands.

Chong said the charges "are not true at all" and defended his voting record, including trying to close loopholes on solar tax credits that he said were costing the state millions of dollars.

It's unusual to have three groups that, as they acknowledged at the Iolani Palace press conference, don't always see eye to eye. Harris referred to the "historic nature" of the alliance.

And, while it's not unheard of for groups of this magnitude to get publicly involved in individual legislative races, the singling out of a key member of House leadership is not common. HGEA and UHPA, for example, are solid backers of Democrats.

So, what's really involved here?

Possibly the leadership of House Speaker Calvin Say.

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