While it is common to see former Hawaii leaders active in current political campaigns — making endorsements, for example, or appearing at rallies and in print and online advertising — it is not often that residents see well-known figures starring in television commercials together.

But that is the case with “Phone Tree,” a 30-second spot from a local political action committee spending heavily to defeat the constitutional amendment ballot question on using property taxes to help public education.

The ad begins with former Gov. John Waihee calling former Gov. Neil Abercrombie on the telephone. Former Govs. Ben Cayetano and George Ariyoshi are soon on the line in an apparent conference call. All four are Democrats, and all four are voting “no” on the ConAm question.

“You know, if you’re a renter, you’re going to get smashed,” Abercrombie tells Waihee. “In fact, everybody’s going to get hurt.”

“It’s a blank check for raising taxes,” Cayetano chimes in. “That’s why every sitting mayor opposes ConAm.”

All four ex-govs are wearing aloha shirts. Three use landlines. Only Cayetano wields a smart phone. Only former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, is missing from the lineup.

“Phone Tree” is the third constitutional amendment TV spot by the Affordable Hawaii Coalition, and it’s set to begin airing Monday. The PAC as of Friday had spent $128,000 for ads running on KHON, KFVE, KGMB, KHNL, KITV and KIKU, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

Formed just this year, the Affordable Hawaii Coalition is focused on only one issue this fall: the ConAm ballot question on a real property tax surcharge. It received more than $155,000 in contributions and spent about half that amount as of Sept. 26. More than $48,000 has been paid to CommPac, a prominent local communications and marketing company.

Contributors to the Affordable Hawaii Coalition, according to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, include the Building Industry Association of Hawaii, Lanai Resorts, Hawaii Petroleum, Watumull Properties, WC Maui Coast Hotel, Shidler Pacific Advisors, Dowling Co., Russell Hata of Y Hata Co., R HK REIT Investors, Duane Kurisu of WFK Inc., Alison Ueoka of the Hawaii Insurers Council, Colliers International Real Estate Management Services, Evolution West Management Services, Hawaii-based real estate investment firm Fergus & Co., Park Hotels and Resorts of McLean, Virginia, and several executives with local automotive dealerships.

Not reflected in the the PAC’s most recent campaign spending filing is $600,000 from the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

Link to full article: Ad Watch: Four Hawaii Govs Team Up To Defeat ConAm

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