Hawaii Monitor: Time to Question Dan's 'Last Wish'

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

Immediately after Sen. Dan Inouye’s death in December 2012, the senator’s staff publicly announced he had written a letter to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie urging him to “grant me my last wish” by appointing first-term Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to succeed Inouye in the Senate.

The dramatic appearance of the letter, word of which was leaked to reporters within an hour of his death, grabbed headlines locally and was reported widely even as tributes to the late senator poured in from around the country.

The rapid dissemination of the letter, despite being marked “personal,” seemed intended to put the governor in a political straightjacket and force him to accede to the late senator’s posthumous political demand.

In the days following Inouye’s death, it would have appeared unseemly to question the unusual circumstances of the letter, and I haven’t located any published accounts that did so.

I’m told that even today, seven months after Inouye’s passing, questions about the letter are considered dangerously “radioactive” in political circles, and suggestions it deserves more scrutiny are being proactively dismissed by Hanabusa backers as coming from the conspiracy fringe.

But now that it has become a central building block of Hanabusa’s campaign to unseat Senator Brian Schatz in the 2014 Democratic primary, the letter can’t be considered off limits for further scrutiny.

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