February 22, 2009
The Akaka Bill: A Cash Cow for DemocratsBy Andrew Walden
Eat your heart out Jack Abramoff. President Obama looks forward to a guaranteed supply of Democrat campaign money which will make the imprisoned Republican fundraiser look like the small time operator he was. And better yet, Obama's multi-billion dollar nationwide scheme to circumvent campaign spending laws comes neatly disguised as a Hawaii-only deal for "reconciliation" and "justice". "Campaign finance" isn't even in the bill's description. It is called the Akaka Bill.
Reintroduced February 4 for the 2009 Congressional session as S381 and HR862, the Akaka Bill creates a process to establish a Native Hawaiian Tribal Government. If it reaches his desk, America's first black president has pledged to sign a bill which is justified in Hawaii as protection of the private multi-billion dollar Kamehameha Schools' right to exclude African-American and other non-Hawaiian students. That pledge launched Obama's climb to the Presidency at a series of meetings with Hawaii Democrats in December, 2004 -- immediately after he won his Illinois Senate seat.
This week, on February 25, the US Supreme Court will be hearing Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. Housing and Community Dev. Corp. of Hawaii, which will decide whether the Hawaii Supreme Court was correct to rule that a 1993 Congressional Resolution apologizing for the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom gives native Hawaiians a claim on 1.2 million acres of Hawaii real estate known as the ‘ceded lands.' These lands, so named because the US ‘ceded' them back to the State upon admission in 1959, comprise 29% of the State's total land mass and almost all of the land owned by the State of Hawaii.
But this is not the story of a one-state political deal. Hawaiians have never been a tribe. The Hawaiian nationality was created by the Hawaiian Kingdom -- a national state. Based on the Akaka Bill model, symbolic Congressional resolutions such as the 1993 Apology Resolution become the legal basis for the creation of Tribal Governments where no tribe has ever existed. If the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling is upheld, states could find themselves besieged by self-professed "tribes" with grievances, demanding reconciliation in the form of land and money.
All federally-recognized tribes, including the proposed Akaka Tribe, are exempt from campaign spending limits, disclosure requirements, and many other campaign spending laws. The reach of most Indian Tribes is limited by their poverty. But the Akaka Tribe would likely provide a tribal jurisdiction for the $9 billion Kamehameha Schools -- Hawaii's largest private landowner. Billions of dollars worth of Hawaii real estate would likely be transferred to the Akaka tribe from the State of Hawaii's ‘ceded lands'. All of these resources would be under the control of a well-known Hawaii-based political gang which played a key early-money role in advancing both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to the Presidency.
With Hawaii as the model, the apology machine is already in motion. House Resolution 194 passed July 29, 2008 apologizing for slavery and segregation, in spite of the fact that Americans paid the highest price for the abolition of slavery of any nation -- expending 600,000 lives to defeat the Democrats' Confederacy. The resolution, passed only by the House, "expresses its commitment to rectify the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African Americans under slavery and Jim Crow...." Bills introduced in 2004 and 2008 would have apologized to American Indians and "encourage(ed) all State governments similarly to work toward reconciling relationships with Indian tribes." Hawaii Democrat Senators Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye were both co-sponsors of the 2004 proposed Senate Indian Apology. Hawaii Democrat Reps Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono both cosponsored the House Apology for Slavery.
Bill Clinton rewarded Hawaii Democrats' early-money primary campaign support with the 1993 passage of the original "Apology Bill" (PL 103-150). After Clinton was safely reelected, the multi-part PBS documentary Frontline: The Fixers in 1997 exposed the central role played by Clinton's early-money Hawaii Democrat operatives in the Asian money scandals swirling around the Clinton administration.
While public debate on the Akaka Bill focuses on claims of past injustice, Rep Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) explained to the House Natural Resources Committee May 2, 2007: "The bottom line here is that this is a bill about the control of assets. This is about land, this is about money, and this is about who has the administrative authority and responsibility over it."
Hawaii's ‘ceded lands' appeal to the Supreme Court is backed by an Amicus Brief signed by Democrat and Republican Attorneys General of 32 other States. The states' brief underlines the national land grab potential if the decision of the Hawaii Supreme Court were upheld. Hawaiian ethnicity is tied to the formation of a national state-the Hawaiian Kingdom-not a tribe. Since the Akaka Bill seeks to create a tribe where none has ever existed, the potential is that Congress could be imposing all manner of legal and financial obligations on the states and on the federal government by passing such symbolic resolutions of apology. The states argue that the Hawaii State Supreme Court decision elevates these types of symbolic resolutions above the Admission Acts of the various states, writing:
Barack Obama has indicated his support for further apologies. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on Obama speaking to hundreds of cheering journalists at the Unity '08 conference in Chicago last July:
The Amicus brief reflects debate on the Apology Resolution in 1993. Senator Dan Inouye (D-HI) in 1993 claimed the Apology Resolution was "a simple apology" with no further effect. The same lies are being told today regarding the Slavery Apology and the Indian Apology.
But Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) didn't buy the pitch, voting against the Apology Resolution and correctly pointing out: "The logical consequences of this resolution would be independence." In 2005 Sen. Dan Akaka (D-HI) had this exchange with NPR:
In 2005 tough negotiations with the Department of Justice under the Bush administration forced Akaka to insert four changes into his namesake bill. But with Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress and Obama in the White House, Akaka's 2009 bill is the pre-Bush version. The items reinstated in the text of the Akaka Bill allow creation of a tribal legal jurisdiction, allow the tribe to claim US military bases and other federal assets in Hawaii, allow gaming if agreed by the State, and leave the door open to what Bush's Assistant Attorney General William J. Moschella in 2005 called "a flood of litigation."
US military bases in Hawaii are federal property located almost entirely on lands once owned by the Hawaiian Kingdom and then the Republic which were not ‘ceded' back to the State of Hawaii upon Statehood. In addition to the language of the Akaka Bill, a failure of the US Supreme Court to overturn the Hawaii Supreme Court decision would open up the possibility of the Akaka Tribe claiming ownership of federal military bases. The 1993 Apology Resolution puts Congress in the position of claiming the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom was "illegal" and claims "indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands...." (emphasis added) Note the two issues: national sovereignty and ownership of the government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom-exactly the issues posed by the Akaka Bill and the ‘ceded lands' case.
Did Hawaiians "relinquish their claims"? On January 24, 1895, after hapa-Hawaiian rebel Robert Wilcox failed in the only attempt at forcible restoration of the monarchy, the deposed and then-imprisoned Queen Liliuokalani formally abdicated her throne without any of the conditions contained in her earlier and today highly-publicized 1893 abdication. Signing a document recognizing the sovereignty of the Hawaii Republic, she wrote: "the Government of the Republic of Hawaii is the only lawful Government of the Hawaiian Islands, and that the late Hawaiian monarchy is finally and forever ended, and no longer of any legal or actual validity, force or effect whatsoever...."
In the same document, Queen Liliuokalani renounced: "...all claims or pretensions whatsoever to the late throne of Hawaii, or to the late monarchy of Hawaii...whether the same consist of pecuniary or property considerations, or of personal status, hereby forever renouncing, disowning and disclaiming all rights... save and excepting only such rights and privileges as belong to me in common with all private citizens of, or residents in the Republic of Hawaii." (emphasis added)
After the Republic was annexed to the United States, citizen Liliuokalani Dominis filed the 1909 lawsuit Liliuokalani v. United States, (45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910)). In it the former Queen claimed personal ownership of the former government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom and demanded payment for the lands. The Court ruled against her on May 16, 1910 finding that an 1865 Act agreed to by King Kamehameha III had transferred the lands from ownership by Kamehameha III as an individual to ownership by the Hawaiian Kingdom government. This had been done in exchange for the government assuming the Kamehameha III's underlying mortgages.
These facts show that the chain of title of the ‘ceded' lands is completely unbroken and unclouded and that the claims contained within the 1993 Apology Resolution had been adjudicated 83 years earlier by a US court which had been accepted as legitimate by private citizen Liliuokalani Dominis. Queen Liliuokalani's separate personal properties were never seized by the Republic nor by the United States and are preserved today for the benefit of Hawaiian orphans as the 6,362 acre Liliuokalani Trust.
Oral arguments on the ceded lands case are scheduled for February 25, 2009. This modern rework of Liliuokalani v United States stems from a dispute between the State of Hawaii and the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) over a 1990 Waihee administration plan to sell ceded lands for affordable housing projects at Lahaina, Maui and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. OHA's suit blocking the project was filed in 1995 under another Democrat Governor, Ben Cayetano. The final appeal is being pursued by the Republican Linda Lingle administration. Lack of affordable housing is a primary reason why nearly 10,000 residents left Hawaii in 2007-a rate of exodus proportionally greater than that of communist Cuba. This is but one example of how OHA/Akaka policy directly harms native Hawaiians.
US Solicitor General Edwin S Kneedler, a highly-respected Bush Administration holdover, has joined the State in its appeal and will be presenting oral arguments alongside Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett. Knowing that its defeat is imminent before the Court, OHA-organized demonstrators have demanded that the State abandon its right to access the courts. Failing that, the Hawaii legislature is advancing legislation abandoning its right to sell ceded lands-in violation of its obligations under the 1959 Admission Act. Governor Lingle has indicated she would likely sign the legislation depending on its details. She argues that Hawaiians have a moral claim on the ceded lands, but not a legal one.
If a reservation with its own legal jurisdiction is formed, the few Hawaiians who actually join the Akaka Tribe will be second class citizens lacking the protection of the US Constitution, because the Bill of Rights does not automatically apply on sovereign Indian Reservations. Future "Broken Trust" trustees will not be under the jurisdiction of future State Attorneys General. Not only will they be able to buy politicians nationwide because campaign spending laws do not apply but they will be able to strip the $9 billion Kamehameha Schools trust clean and nobody outside their Akaka Tribe will have legal authority stop them.
This all has a precedent. In 1995 the corrupt "Broken Trust" Kamehameha Schools trustees commissioned ex-Governor Waihee to consider re-location of Kamehameha Schools' legal domicile out of Hawaii in order to shield their illegal activities from State and federal investigators. His choice? The Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation--the most 'sovereign' reservation in the US.
In The Cheating of America Cayetano's Attorney General Margery Bronster explains the corrupt Trustees' motivations: "Their main motivation was to avoid oversight from the state attorney general and the IRS." Senator Akaka's only comment on the years-long scandal? He complained the corrupt Trustees' $1-million-per-year salaries were not high enough. The move to Cheyenne River was never made and the trustees were finally forced to resign in 1999 when the IRS threatened to revoke Kamehameha Schools' tax-exempt status. Six months after the IRS ousted the trustees, the first version of the Akaka Bill was introduced in Congress. Instead of moving to the reservation, they would build a reservation around themselves.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has for years funded a so-called ‘sovereignty movement' comprised largely of convicted criminals who intimidate other native Hawaiians. These OHA goons pretend to oppose the Akaka Bill by creating the illusion of a movement for independence. In reality, their function is to serve as enforcers among Hawaiians now and under the future tribe. Within the tribal electorate set up by the Akaka Bill, the sovereignty activists will demand formation of the most ‘sovereign' type of tribal government--just like the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian reservation.
Kamehameha Schools' ability to serve native Hawaiian children could be not only protected, but expanded with a statewide school voucher system. The schools would then be able to end their discriminatory admission policy without excluding any Hawaiian children. But vouchers are not on the political agenda in a state where the largest and wealthiest single private landowner is a private school. Why? A voucher system cannot exempt the political and economic machinations of Kamehameha Schools trustees from State or Federal legal jurisdiction.
Just as it is in Indian Country, poverty, corruption, and petty dictatorship will be the legacy of the Akaka Tribe and any other Apology Tribe. In that sense the establishment of tribes out of political interest groups is only an extension of the already atrocious conditions created in Democrat-run minority communities such as Barack Obama's South Chicago, Illinois Senate District. Because of the Tribal exemption from campaign finance laws, and the billions of dollars of real estate at question, the apology movement threatens to place American politics under the financial control of the suddenly-wealthy petty-dictatorial political bosses who run such communities. This scam is a dagger pointed at the very heart of the American political system.
From Hell, Saul Alinsky looks up in awe.
RELATED: Akaka Bill Reading List
Andrew Walden edits hawaiifreepress.com.