Now that HI-02 candidate Tulsi Gabbard's year-end fundraising report has been digitized by the FEC, we can take a more comprehensive look at her itemized individual donations to date. This will help me settle my some of my concerns: I've been worrying if I've shared enough information that emphasizes her sources of support outside of the network of her father--ex-Republican State Senator, and anti-gay activist, Mike Gabbard--such as the environmental and construction industries. But my biggest surprise is that an even larger share of her fundraising than I thought comes from what is either evidently Mike Gabbard's network or from what I have good reason to think is Mike Gabbard's network.
Note 1: No offense to the good people of Kailua! I just needed a diary title.
Note 2: You might want to read my two earlier diaries for context if you're interested in reading this one, but here's the basic story:
Introduction: Tulsi Gabbard is a candidate in the Democratic primary for Congress in Hawaii's Second District. She has served in the military, in the Hawaii Legislature, as an aide to Daniel Akaka, and on the Honolulu City Council. Her father, Mike Gabbard, is a Republican-turned-Democratic State Senator known for successful activism against gay marriage. I've been trying to figure out how much Tulsi Gabbard's network of staffers and donors is connected to her father's network.
For some flavor of why her father's network might be of concern to local progressive activists, here is a blog post from when he became a Democrat, from the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii:
The reception accorded Mike Gabbard by some Democratic elected officials has provoked more anger, disgust and demoralization among Hawaii progressive Democrats than any other single event in recent Hawaii political history.
I have had many people tell me they are going to resign from the Party and, while I have talked many of them out of taking that final step, I do believe that many of them, while not quitting the Party, will simply drift away, disheartened and demoralized.
An earlier post by a different blogger on the same site gives
further background and links (some dead) to more information about Mike Gabbard's past races, fundraising, etc.:
As stated on Mike Gabbard’s official website, Gabbard “is perhaps best known locally and nationally for his leadership role in the eight-year battle to protect traditional marriage, which culminated in the passage of a constitutional amendment ratified by 70% of the people in Hawaii in 1998.”
There is further discussion in both blog posts and comments--some in defense of Mike Gabbard's positions on other issues, and some regarding ongoing rumors and allegations that he is involved with a "splinter" Krishna religious group. But I just wanted to include some background on him for new readers.
Tulsi Gabbard, though, is the one running for Congress. Several people have wondered why I'm concerned with her staffer/donor network. Let me quote one of my favorite political bloggers, J. Bernstein:
Why, for example, is Congress polarized? We have about four answers:
4. Staff effects: candidates recruit staff and other aides from a partisan pool, and those assistants wind up influencing policy positions on everything that's not dictated by the politician (who may only care about a few things) or constituents (ditto). I've done some research on this, and believe that #4 is a real and overlooked factor.
See my earlier diaries for more details about the staff connections. For now, let's start this diary with a couple of charts:
Tulsi Gabbard reported $284,920 in itemized individual donations to date. A large proportion of this fundraising, as you can see, breaks down into a few overlapping categories. And a large proportion of it, as you can see, comes from a single zip code, 96734:
I've compared Gabbard's fundraising from that zip code to her fundraising from donors who list their city as Honolulu. The quotes are just because presumably that's not all of Honolulu, since Kailua---96734--is in Honolulu County, which is unified with the city.
That's just an interesting side note for now, although we'll see that zip code recurring.
Let's go back to the first chart. Starting from "Family" and proceeding clockwise to "Fried" gives the donations which might come from Mike Gabbard's network. I've arranged these categories from the most to the least likely to be closely associated with Gabbard. If you're interested in the Gabbard network, read from here. Otherwise, scroll down to "Joseph G. Pickard". Note that these are the listed donations, although Tulsi Gabbard's campaign did refund a donation (to Phineas Casady) and also returned some donations in excess of individual limits.
Family: Gabbards, including both of her parents, have donated $19,822 to Tulsi's campaign. Walter and Nancy Cardinet, Carol Gabbard's sister and brother-in-law, have donated an additional $7,500. Elsie Porter, probably another relative of Carol's (whose maiden name is Porter) gave an additional $5,000. Eduardo Tamayo, Tulsi's ex-husband, gave $520. Many of them, of course, also donated to Mike Gabbard's Republican campaign against Ed Case in 2004.
Staff: This category includes Tulsi and Mike Gabbard's campaign or office staffers--who are mostly the same people--and their families. Between them, Devin and Kunti Bull, Robert Riggs, Donna Lay, Erika and Franklin Tsuji, and Talia Tamayo Khurana and Vikram Khurana (who shares an address with Talia and is probably her husband) have donated $26,814.
Mike Gabbard and Rick Reed's old donors: As I said, the groups somewhat overlap. Here is a list of the remaining people who donated to Mike Gabbard's campaign as a Republican in 2004, or to Rick Reed's campaign in 1994, and also to Tulsi Gabbard's campaign this cycle. I've included links to those staffers that are also common donors:
Between them, the above people--other than those mentioned already-- have contributed $39,405 to date.
Down to Earth and other Companies Affiliated with the Above: First, employees of Down to Earth, the deli where the Gabbards used to work, and which is currently a trademark of Healthy's, where Steve Telander works, gave $5,800. Two of these employees, Clifford Hillier and Nimai Cordeiro, have the same last name as old Mike Gabbard donors, namely Hillier and Vanessa and Romel Cordeiro. Mary and Clifford Hillier share an address, as well.
Two employees of Pacific Advisors, which is Walter Cardinet's company, gave another $500.
George Deierling lists his employment as "Sunset Studios", a corporation which seems to have Anya Anthony as its agent. He gave another $1,000.
Several employees of "Noni Connection" gave a total of $835. That company has James Titcomb, another old Mike Gabbard donor, as its "consent name", and Nimai Titcomb, another Mike Gabbard donor, as as an officer.
Still, that's $8,135 in all.
The Hansens: Michelle and Sai Hansen, who share an address in (yes) Kailua, zip code 96734, gave an additional $10,000, with each one maxing out.
Who are they? Well, you can find a blog about a golf tournament between Sai Hansen, Mike Gabbard, and Eddie Tamayo. More importantly, Sai Hansen seems to work for the Ninjai Gang, some kind of anime--which is managed by the ubiquitous Mark Fergusson, also of Healthy's, Down to Earth, etc. I seriously doubt that's a coincidence.
The Other (?) Harvey Network: This is an another odd one. You might have noticed a couple of people surnamed "Harvey" donated to both Mike and Tulsi Gabbard. (Presumably, not a gay couple.) Still more people named Harvey donated to just Mike Gabbard, and still more people named Harvey donated to just Tulsi Gabbard. But not the same people!
In fact, John and Rayna Harvey of "Top Seek LLC", along with Michael Tatzber of "Top Seek", and Cassandra Holmes, who shares an address with Michael Tatzber, gave some $20,350 to Tulsi Gabbard's campaign.
There are several reasons I am fairly doubtful that they're outside of the Mike Gabbard/Butler network:
1. You'll notice Tatzber's name, right by Tim Anthony, Tulsi Gabbard, Clifford Hillier, Donna Lay, Alison Riggs, and Janet Bishop, as well as Healthy's agent Mark Fergusson, on this petition.
2. "Top Seek" seems to be a company in both Sacramento and Hawaii. Several common donors are in Sacramento or the Sacramento area. For example, well, Josh Harvey is in Fair Oaks, as are Carol and Robert Lent, and Frederick Sands is in Sacramento.
3. Michael Tatzber seems to have written an article on Noni juice. Recall the "Noni Connection" company run by old Mike Gabbard donors. Also, Michael Harvey apparently is sales manager of a Noni company.
4. Cassandra Holmes and John Harvey live together in Kailua--zip code 96734. Where George Deierling, Franklin Santana and Clifford Hillier (of Down to Earth), Swarup Tibby, Kainoa Penaroza, and Kalindi Titcomb (of Noni Connection), John Bishop, Eduardo Tamayo, Donna Lay, Mary Papish, Anya Anthony, Tim Anthony, Lawrence Olsen, Steve Telander, Michael Jones, Amanda Lowther, Patricia Compton, Mary Hillier, and Janet Bishop all(!) live.
5. It's a lot of money!
I guess this could be a coincidence, but how many networks involve people named Harvey, Noni juice, Sacramento, and Kailua independently? I listed them in their own category in case this was too tenuous, but I would be surprised if these Harveys weren't related to the Harveys who donated to Mike Gabbard.
Other likely connections:
Tim O'Connor of Dana Point gave $2,500. He seems to be the registered agent of the "Vedanta Enlightenment Devotional Association" with " Kathy Hoshijo O'Connor". And Kathy Hoshijo is a former HI politician who ran for office as part of Butler's group.
Vrinda Strickland of (yes) Kailua maxed out with $5,000. "Paul Strickland" was another participant in Mike Gabbard's golf game, and "Stoka Strickland" is listed as a manager of the Ninjai group. I put O'Connor and Strickland in their own category, since they're, respectively, the two donors I'm least sure are connected to Mike Gabbard.
Fried: Richard Fried is a big Democratic donor, but I'm not sure if he and his law firm employees donated $3,500 to Tulsi Gabbard because of that, or because he's apparently Mike Gabbard's tennis friend. Fried's also donated to Mike's state legislative races when Mike was running as a Republican. But, again, I thought this should be its own category.
Joseph G. Pickard and Co(s): I am pretty sure this network isn't connected to the Gabbards or to Butler's religious group. But in some ways, this is at least as suspicious as the above donations, which is why I mentioned it in my first paragraph. Joseph G. Pickard, his wife Elissa, and employees of the Pickard companies Environet, Sea Hawaii, and Community Planning and Engineering gave some $24,800 to Tulsi Gabbard's campaign.
Who is Joseph G. Pickard? I don't know too much about him, but quick Google gives credible newspaper allegations that he's a politically-connected developer, who has donated to Republicans, Hannemann, and Abercrombie, and who may have used that influence to help gain contracts.
Mitsunaga: Employees of Mitsunaga and Associates gave $2,900 .
Developers, Environmental Industries, Contractors, and the Rest of the Rest: I can't really analyze all the remaining businesses whose employers donated to Tulsi Gabbard, but many seem to be environmental or energy related, and/or developers and in real estate, and/or contractors.
That's the part of her fundraising that was highlighted by the Civil Beat, using data from before the most recent quarter:
Construction and Development Leaders Who Gave to Gabbard
• Wagdy Guirguis, president of infrastructure development firm GMP International: $5,000
• Albert Shigemura, executive with PVT Landfill: $1,300
• Derek Mukai, engineer for development firm Community Planning and Engineering: $1,000
• Anson Murayama, CEO of Community Planning and Engineering: $1,000
• Vicki Gaynor, vice president of Big Island-based engineering and construction consulting firm Environet: $1,000
• Patrick Kubota, CFO of Environet: $1,000
• Micah Kane, Kamehameha Schools trustee: $600
• Glenn Okino, president of Mitsunaga Construction: $500
• Brian Stepp, vice president of Environet: $500
• Thomas McCabe, CEO of Environet: $500
• Victor Kimura, vice president for hotel owner and developer Kyo-ya: $500
• Jeffrey Kissel, CEO of the Gas Company LLC: $500
• Chan OK Mitsunaga, vice president of construction management firm Mitsunaga & Associates: $500
• Dennis Mitsunaga, president and CEO of construction management firm Mitsunaga & Associates: $500
• Terri Ann Otani, corporate secretary for Mitsunaga & Associates: $500
• Cameron Nekota, lawyer for development firm D.R. Horton: $400
• Kekoa Kaluhiwa, director of external affairs for First Wind, former staffer in Sen. Daniel Akaka's office: $250
• Stephen Kelly, vice president of Aina Nui Corp, an affiliate company of the James Campbell Company: $250
Note how several of those people are already accounted for in the section on Joseph G. Pickard's companies.
I tried to loosely classify Tulsi Gabbard's remaining donations into a few broad categories. Maybe too broad--don't put too much stock in it. For example, "Developers" includes pretty much every company from the above list that we haven't yet accounted for, plus pretty much every company or individual in real estate, energy, environmental industries, and so on.
As you can see, Tulsi Gabbard's fundraising is dominated much more by donations from the single Gabbard network (especially if you include the "Top Seek" donations) than it is by donations from any particular industry (especially if you count the Pickard donations separately). At least as far as I can tell, and at least in itemized individual donations. And these donations presumably come from multiple competing networks. There's not all that much room in the pie chart outside of the clockwise arc from "Family" to "Pickard" to fit other big sources of support.
Mike Gabbard seems to have a good environmental reputation in general, however, and this is mentioned in, for example, the Honolulu Magazine article about him:
For the record, [Mike] Gabbard appears to be a responsible councilman who has built substantial support in his district. Two of Gabbard's biggest achievements are environmental. With the support of his constituents, Gabbard successfully opposed the building of a landfill over the Pearl Harbor aquifer and established a related project, dubbed "Ship It Out." "I traveled to the Mainland at my own expense to study the viability of shipping Hawai'i's trash to environmentally friendly landfills on the Mainland," he says. "Taking the lead in this area has moved Hawai'i closer to the day when we will no longer be dependent on landfills."
Gabbard has also worked with the Honolulu Police Department to create a volunteer policing program for abandoned cars and drivers who park illegally in handicapped stalls. The program, which began this summer, should "get more people involved in law enforcement and free up our limited police officers to focus on more serious crimes," he says.
Some companies also seem to be Native-owned, and you can see in, for example, these old
arguments about Gabbard on a "Progressive Democrats of Hawaii" blog that defenders of Gabbard point to his record on environmental, labor, and "Host Culture" issues.
These positive aspects of Mike Gabbard's reputation are apparently reflected in Tulsi Gabbard's fundraising. And they're also reflected in her PAC support, which includes donations from the "Sempra Energy Employees PAC", the "Boilermakers-Blacksmiths Legislative Education-Action Program", the "Action Committee for Rural Electrification", the "UA Political Education Committee" (which is plumbers and pipefitters), and "I.B.E.W.-C.O.P.E.".
However, those particular PAC donations only total $14,000 . That's less than Tulsi Gabbard got from the people at "Top Seek LLC" and their families. So, although I've worried I've been over-selling my point, I don't think it's an exaggeration to emphasize the latter kind of donation.
Conclusion: I wanted to put this at the end, to illustrate that the above connections and networks can be independently established without relying on online allegations about the religious group the Gabbards are alleged to be affiliated with.
Before I wrote this diary, I did read some portions of some of the lengthy threads on the Cult Education Forum discussing Butler's group and its ties to the Gabbards. Many of the names, corporations, and locations mentioned above are mentioned there as well, and these threads gave me the idea of looking up the registration filings of corporations (since they do the same). They also have some analyses and discussions about Mike Gabbard's donors. I really can't vouch for much of what they say based on alleged personal experiences--but my point is that I don't think you need those allegations to draw the above connections. And I want to link to them, because, as I said, they were useful to me in writing this diary.
Again, I want to be clear:
-I don't know anything about this religious group, the extent to which it even exists, or who's involved with it.
-I have no information on the personal beliefs of any of the above people (including, of course, Tulsi Gabbard herself), and I do not claim that they or their families are involved with this religious group.
-I am not competent to judge whether or not this religious group, to whatever extent it exists, fits some definition of a "cult". I think that religious beliefs and practices should be, if not universally respected, then at least judged and evaluated independently of their popularity or possession of mainstream status.
What I do know, and what I've hopefully demonstrated to sufficient effect in my diaries, is that a significantly larger percentage than I initially thought of the itemized individual donations to a major Democratic Congressional candidate come from a relatively group of people with many objective, documented connections--donation histories, employment, location, family members, and so on.
This much is not a surprise, at least to my understanding of the work of people like Jonathan Bernstein and Seth Masket on informal party networks. In his "No Middle Ground", for example, Masket documents how, well, I'll let Bernstein explain it since I haven't read Masket's excellent book in a while:
The best book from this perspective on sub-presidential is Seth Masket's No Middle Ground, which looks at nominations in California -- although for local nominations, it's much less a question of complex coordination and much more a question of establishing and then sustaining a cartel that controls nominations (and I hope that Seth will jump in if I have that not quite right; it's been a while since I read it).
In a Democratic district, that "cartel" might consist of Maxine Waters staffers and affiliates, and in a Republican district, it might be tied to a Chamber of Commerce.
Obviously, the network described in this diary isn't a cartel, since they don't seem to control the district's nominations. But I think of it as a similar structure--a group of political actors with a large degree of clustering and informal ties. And, again, I don't think that's unusual to find among the supporters of a candidate in a Congressional primary.
What I do think is unusual here is that this network, as far as I can tell, doesn't have a pattern of donating to or supporting political candidates of a single party or of engaging in activism on a particular issue.
Indeed, far from controlling the Democratic nomination process, members of this network have supported Republicans Mike Gabbard and Rick Reed--and Tulsi Gabbard.
And, maybe, Mike Gabbard since he became a Democrat, and certainly some individual donors have donated to other Democrats. There are other Democrats in common. Perhaps this network supports other politicians--I don't really know; I'd have to go through something like Follow The Money for state-level politics, and these diaries are long enough!
But I think they're much more Mike Gabbard's family, employees, friends, and donors--and their employees and donors--than they are Democratic party activists.
I can't really say whether or not this says anything about Tulsi Gabbard's positions, potential voting record, and so on. Perhaps its more relevant that Tulsi Gabbard may have helped convince her father to become a Democrat. (via.) You can judge for yourself what to do with the above information.
I think it's interesting. I can't think of too many political candidates who come from political dynasties that they have to ignore in their party's primary. I also don't know how often so much of a candidate's fundraising comes from donors they likely know personally and who don't appear to be party activists or issue activists. Maybe this is more typical than I think. I hope this isn't too tenuous or rumor-mongering. Let me know. But I think it's worth knowing about her campaign.