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Cayetano gets apology over negative ad campaign

June 14, 2014 - 12:05am

HONOLULU — A consortium of carpenters and contractors is agreeing to apologize to former Gov. Ben Cayetano for negative campaign advertisements during his unsuccessful bid for Honolulu mayor.

The apology is part of a settlement in the defamation lawsuit he filed against Pacific Resource Partnership alleging their 2012 advertisements focusing on his campaign contributions made him appear corrupt and tarnished his reputation.

The message will be published Sunday in an ad in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

It’s not clear how the lawsuit and settlement will affect political speech in Hawaii, as the legal standard for proving defamation in court is higher for public officials, the newspaper reported. Cayetano said it might make people more cautious.

“And I hope that organizations like PRP and others that we have seen and will see again will take a step back,” said Dan Boylan, a political analyst and former history professor at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu. “But I doubt they will.”

Pacific Resource Partnership Executive Director John White confirmed the settlement but declined to comment on it.

The group’s political action committee spent more than $3.6 million against Cayetano, who ran as a candidate vowing to stop Honolulu’s rail transit project. The group spent an undisclosed amount on a multimedia campaign touting the benefits of the rail project.

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