Schatz, Warren Release GAO Report Detailing ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ of Trump Cronies’ Undue Influence Over Dept. of Veterans Affairs

United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) released the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation revealing the undue influence of unqualified, unaccountable private citizens – with no official government role or responsibilities – over Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decisions. The investigation was initially requested by the senators in August 2018 following reports that a trio of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago cronies (Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and Mr. Marc Sherman) “are secretly shaping the Trump administration’s veterans policies.”

Senators Brian Schatz and Elizabeth Warren

“VA should be led by those who understand veterans’ concerns and have their best interests at heart,” said Senator Schatz, top Democratic on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. “This new report confirms that three of Trump’s friends, who have no experience in government let alone with veterans matters, were secretly shaping the VA’s policies without any transparency or oversight. Being a member of the president’s club does not qualify you to influence decisions that affect the millions who served in uniform.”

“This independent government watchdog’s report finds that Trump Administration corruption ran rampant at the VA, revealing that three unqualified, unaccountable cronies used their personal relationship with the President and membership at his country club as leverage to exert personal influence over health care, technology, personnel, and other key decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Senator Warren. “The VA must make decisions based only on the best interests of veterans – not on the whims of private individuals with special access to the President. This is another example of why Congress needs to act on behalf of the American people and wipe out corruption and cronyism. I thank GAO for its thorough investigation of this matter.”

The GAO’s report confirmed the following, based on a review that identified hundreds of phone calls and emails between Perlmutter, Moskowitz, or Sherman and key VA officials:

  • The trio often “acted as advisors by making recommendations” on a number of key VA initiatives, and “created a ‘shadow reporting structure’ in which they were stakeholders without a formal role, creating confusion for some VA staff who recognized the power and influence of the three private citizens but were not given clear guidance on how to handle that power or make decisions under that influence.”
  • Then-VA Secretary David Shulkin “had to ‘bring along’ the three private citizens and get their buy-in on certain decisions… due, in part, to their direct access to the White House.”
  • Input from the trio may have contributed to the “strategic pause” that VA took on the electronic health record system contract negotiation with Cerner, a company that provides health care IT services.
  • VA officials and Mr. Moskowitz exchanged emails about developing a mobile app for a year in which Mr. Moskowitz took a leadership role to organize meetings and make introductions.
  • Moskowitz “participated in weekly meetings to plan a medical device registry summit hosted by VA. Moskowitz also invited his son, Aaron Moskowitz, to join in planning the summit, and they both worked to connect VA to other private citizens to participate in the summit.”
  • Mr. Perlmutter, Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, helped arrange then-Secretary Shulkin’s November 2017 appearance at the New York Stock Exchange, and “arranged for Marvel characters” to be present at the ringing and for a public service announcement that his company worked with Johnson & Johnson and VA on this effort.
  • The trio meddled in key personnel decisions, “suggest(ing) potential candidates for the CIO and Under Secretary for Health positions and that VA attempted to hire one of these potential candidates for the CIO position.”

On August 10, 2018, Senators Warren and Brian Schatz sent a letter to the GAO in the wake of a ProPublica investigation revealing numerous examples of potential ethics abuses and misuse of government resources for private gain. Mr. Perlmutter, the Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, used then-VA Secretary Shulkin to promote his own company.  Dr. Moskowitz reportedly pushed his idea for Apple and the VA to develop an application to help veterans locate medical services, but simultaneously recommended his son – who happened to develop a similar app – to serve as a technical advisor on the proposed project.

In 2018, Senator Warren introduced the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, the most sweeping set of anti-corruption proposals since Watergate. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced the companion legislation in the House. The legislation would require outside, unpaid advisors to the White House – like Messrs, Perlmutter, Moskowitz, and Sherman – to follow the same ethics rules as government employees and apply those rules to all government employees.  

Sen. Schatz Urges FTC to Investigate Commercial Use of Short-Term Lodging Rental Services

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the commercial use of the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market.
The letter, which was also signed by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), urges the FTC to study the commercial manner in which individuals or firms are using online services such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey to profit from short-term rentals, taking housing inventory off the market and driving up the cost of rent.

“We are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities.  We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms. Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law,” the senators wrote.  “In order to assess of the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms.  We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner and we urge the Commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.”

The letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez also raised concerns about recent data which revealed that commercial users in New York made up an outsized share of the revenue from short-term rentals and a vast majority of units violated state and local laws.  The subpoenaed data along with recent housing disputes with these companies in cities like Honolulu and San Francisco underscore the immediate need for further study of this issue.

The full text of the letter is below and is available for download in PDF format by clicking here.

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez,

We write today to urge the Federal Trade Commission to study and quantify the degree to which the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market consists of persons or firms acting in a commercial manner by renting out entire residences or multiple residences simultaneously.

This distinction is critical to Congress and state and local lawmakers as we seek to assess the wide-ranging impact of the short-term rental industry on the communities in which they operate.  In recent years, we have seen the emergence and rapid growth of companies like Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and Flipkey.  On one hand, these firms have sparked innovation, increased competition, and have provided new means by which our constituents can earn extra income.  On the other hand, we are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities.  We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms. Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law.

For example, in a report based on data gathered from Airbnb pursuant to a subpoena, the New York Attorney General found that commercial users (those with 3 or more unique units) accounted for a disproportionate share of the revenue generated from short-term rentals.  The commercial users accounted for only 6% of the hosts in New York City, yet generated 37% of the revenue.  Furthermore, the report indicated that 72% of unique units rented in New York City appeared to violate state and local law.

At the FTC’s June 9, 2015, workshop entitled “The ‘Sharing’ Economy:  Issues Facing Platforms, Participants and Regulators” there was widespread agreement that more information and data was needed to properly assess the impacts of the short-term rental industry on communities.  Unfortunately, the platform companies, which are the best positioned to provide this type of information, seem reluctant to do so.  And even if platform companies do share their data, concerns have been raised about the reliability of this data.

We are also troubled by efforts of platform companies to negotiate agreements with state and local governments to collect and provide aggregate tax payments on rentals processed through their systems without providing more detailed information that would help officials to determine the legality of those rentals.  In other cases, online platforms appear to be complying with state and local tax laws inconsistently, collecting taxes in some jurisdictions and not others.

In order to assess of the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms.  We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner and we urge the Commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.  We hope the FTC would be able to release the results of such an investigation on a standalone basis or as part of any report issued on the “sharing economy.”

Senator Brian Schatz Responds to State of the Union Address

Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

“Tonight we heard the President lay out his vision for the year ahead to ensure that our economy continues its recovery and that our economic policies and priorities strengthen and expand the middle class.

“This is particularly important in Hawai‘i, where the high cost of living makes it tougher for hard-working middle class families to share in the American dream.

“For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have used unfair loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Tonight, the President proposed a simpler, fairer tax code that closes those loopholes and uses those savings to support tax credits for working parents. These smart investments will help middle class families succeed and bolster our economy.

“The President’s proposal to expand access to higher education and make community college free for every responsible student is an important step forward. We all know that a college education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder.

“I am also glad that the President focused on home ownership and the need to make mortgages more affordable. Helping families attain the dream of home ownership is even more important in Hawai‘i, where the high prices stress family budgets.

“I hope as we begin the New Year my Republican colleagues in Congress will welcome the President’s proposals to strengthen the middle class and will work with Democrats to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.”


Senator Russell Ruderman on Friday’s Historic Vote – Endorses Schatz

Senator Russell Ruderman

Senator Russell Ruderman

Aloha Puna voters,

I hope you are all safe and recovering from Iselle. Hopefully most of you have electricity, and the rest will have it soon!

The voting issues caused by the storm are complex and frustrating. I am doing all I can to draw attention to the need for Puna voters impacted by the storm to have a fair opportunity to vote. For those assigned to a Pahoa voting place who were unable to vote, the issue remains unresolved.

For those assigned to HPP or Keonopoko, you will vote this Friday at Keonopoko, 7 am – 6 pm.

Both HPP voters and Keonopoko voters will vote at Keonopoko!

I am writing to encourage you to vote on Friday if this includes you. Due to the delayed voting, you will be the deciding votes in at least 3 races:

U.S. Senate
State Rep. Dist. 4
County Council Dist. 4

I urge you to vote for Brian Schatz for U. S. Senate.

Brian has been helpful in our crisis. More importantly he has reached out to me long before this election, before Puna become the momentary center of attention.

Brian has an excellent understanding of Puna’s real needs, including our need for transportation improvements, medical and emergency services, communications and connectivity, and more. Brian will be taking the lead in seeking funds for albizzia control as a long term, disaster preparedness issue.

Brian is approachable, honest, sincere, humble, and cares about people.

Above all, for me, Brian is a true environmentalist. He has shown concern for global warming, getting off oil, and invasive species, among other. Such concern is exactly what we need in Washington.

So please vote on Friday if you are in this group, and vote for Brian Schatz for U.S. Senate.


Russell Ruderman, Hawai‘i State Senator

Senator Schatz Lobbies FAA to Support Hawaii’s Ban on Aerial Advertising

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that Honolulu’s aerial advertising ordinance remains valid.

Aerial Banner

The mainland-based company Aerial Banners North has been flying aerial banners over Oahu in violation of Honolulu’s ordinance banning aerial advertising, while ignoring citations from the Honolulu Police Department. The company has argued that its FAA certificate of waiver preempts the Honolulu ordinance and allows it to fly aerial banners over Oahu. In Washington, DC this week, Senator Schatz reached out to the FAA at the request of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and received a written response that the Honolulu ordinance prohibiting aerial advertising remains valid.

“This is great news for Oahu residents who don’t want to see their skies cluttered from mainland companies. One of the things that makes Hawai‘i beautiful is that we have well-thought out rules governing signage,” said Senator Schatz. “This letter from the FAA makes it clear that this rogue company is violating our law and we expect and hope that this clarification will cause them to stop what they’re doing.”

In the 2002 case of Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2002), the Ninth Circuit ruled in support of Honolulu’s view that its prohibition on aerial advertising is not preempted by federal law. The FAA confirmed in writing today that the precedent from the Skysign case remains the FAA’s position and that Honolulu has the right to prohibit aerial advertising.

Senator Brian Schatz on Layoffs at the Tesoro Hawaii Refinery

Tesoro HawaiiMonday, Senator Brian Schatz released the following statement regarding the layoffs at the Tesoro refinery:

“My office has been in constant communication with the Tesoro companies and is working with the relevant state agencies to ensure that unemployment assistance, job placement and other help be provided to the workers that may be laid off. In addition, we are coordinating our efforts with the refinery task force to ensure that there is no disruption in fuel supply in the state of Hawaii, and we are confident for the purposes of Hawaii’s economy and the needs of the Department of Defense that fuel will continue to be available.  Our main concern is with the workers and their families, and we will do whatever we can to help them to land on their feet.”


Hawaii Will Receive $17 Million for Disaster Relief

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Senator Brian Schatz, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard announced today that Hawaii will receive $17 million for disaster relief.


The funds come from a grant administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant will help the state repair roads and highways damaged by heavy rains causing flooding and landslides on Kauai and Maui in late February and early March 2012. Repair work will include emergency repairs to restore traffic flow, minimize existing damage, protect remaining facilities, and restore highways to pre-disaster condition.

“Last year, Hawaii experienced highly unusual and severe weather, including hail, a tornado, flooding, and landslides. Critical roads and infrastructure across the state sustained major damage, and this $17 million in federal assistance will go a long way to fund repairs and help get Hawaii moving again,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s grant of $17 million will serve as much needed assistance for the state of Hawaii to recover from last year’s tornado and hail storms that caused flooding and damage throughout Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Molokai,” said Senator Schatz, member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “This demonstrates the value of teamwork. From President Obama to Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood to the Congressional delegation to the State administration, everyone came through and the result is receiving $17 million for critical transportation needs.”

“Kauai and Maui experienced significant hardship following last year’s devastating rains, including destroyed roads, contaminated drinking water, and damaged homes,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “This $17 million federal grant will be a strong first step toward fixing our highways and getting people back to their normal routines.”

For more information, please visit:


Coast Guard Conducts Harbor Tour with Sen. Brian Schatz

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz met with the U.S. Coast Guard on Oahu and conducted a tour of Honolulu Harbor aboard one of the Coast Guard’s newest vessels, Tuesday.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray, 14th Coast Guard District commander, hosted the tour and provided Schatz an up close look at Coast Guard operations in and around the Port of Honolulu. It was also an opportunity for Schatz to learn more about the role of the Coast Guard in the Hawaiian Islands and throughout the Pacific.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

Schatz was given the opportunity to pilot the 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, under the instruction of crewmembers from Station Honolulu. The RB-M is one of the Coast Guard’s newest assets with an improved design, new ergonomics, and enhanced safety features, making boat crews more effective in performing their various missions.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

Shan Tsutsui Accepts Lieutenant Governor Position

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced that former state Senate President Shan S. Tsutsui has accepted the position of Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, effective immediately under the order of succession. The office was vacated yesterday by the appointment of former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the U.S. Senate.

Shan S. Tsutsui

“Shan’s acceptance reflects this administration’s commitment to represent all the people of Hawaii as a statewide community, not one that is Oahu-centric,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “As demonstrated during his time in the Legislature and most recently as Senate President, Shan is extremely effective in bringing various parties together to benefit all the people of Hawaii.”

“The decision to leave the state Senate was not a choice I made lightly, but I am eager to make a meaningful contribution to the future of Hawaii as Lt. Governor,”Tsutsui said. “There is much work to be done in the Senate, but I have full confidence in my colleagues at the Legislature. I look forward to working with them this session in my new role.”

Plans are underway to establish an additional Office of the Lt. Governor on Maui, expanding the office’s reach and accessibility to all island communities. The Office of the Lt. Governor will continue to conduct business in the State Capitol in Honolulu.

“In the past, Neighbor Island elected officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve,”Gov. Abercrombie said. “In my view, this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together and the state’s IT transformation plan affords greater opportunities to conduct state business from all islands.”

Tsutsui served as the 12th Senate President of Hawaii. He is the first Senate President from Maui as well as the youngest. Elected to the Senate in 2002 to represent Hawaii’s 4th senatorial district, his previous leadership positions included the Vice Chair of Ways and Means and Majority Caucus Leader.

Tsutsui graduated from Maui High School in 1989 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Hawaii in 1994. He and his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, reside on Maui with their three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna.


Video: Brian Schatz is Sworn in as Hawaii’s New U.S. Senator


With Senator Akaka at his side, Vice President Joe Biden formally swore in Brian Schatz as Hawaii’s United States Senator, filling the seat left open by the passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Schatz Confirmed

After the swearing in, Senator Akaka made remarks in support of Senator Schatz.

Plan Boosts Big Island Geothermal

The electric utility on Hawaii island published Friday the first draft of a plan to add 50 megawatts of geothermal power to the island’s electric grid.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. will seek public comment on the draft to help guide renewable energy developers as they prepare their bids to supply geothermal power to HELCO. A final draft of the document is scheduled to be completed by January, and selection of the winning bidder or bidders is expected by July or August.

An existing 38-megawatt geothermal plant on Hawaii island already accounts for about 20 percent of the island’s peak electrical load. An additional 50 megawatts would push the amount of geothermal generation to nearly 50 percent of peak load.

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

“This project combines our efforts to increase renewable resources on our island with a commitment to reduce costs for consumers,” HELCO President Jay Igna­­cio said.

HELCO customers pay among the highest electricity rates in the state.

HELCO plans to conduct a technical conference webi­nar next month to allow prospective bidders to ask questions and provide comments on the draft document, known as a request for proposals, or RFP.

The contracted price HELCO will pay developers for the geothermal energy will not be linked to the cost of oil, as is the case with many of the other renewable energy projects on Hawaii island.

“This is incredibly important for ratepayers on the Big Island,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. “This will help stabilize prices. What people on the Big Island need is clean, affordable energy, and that’s the purpose of this RFP.”

One of the keys to making the plan work is engaging the community, he added. “We are working hard to have it done right, respecting the environment and the culture,” Schatz said.

Puna Geothermal Plant

Bringing another 50 megawatts of geothermal power online will pave the way for the eventual retirement of fossil fuel-burning electrical generators on Hawaii island, he said.

More than 40 percent of the electricity consumed on Hawaii island is generated from renewable resources, the highest percentage of any island in the state.

Besides geothermal, Hawaii island has hydroelectric, wind and distributed solar power generation.

East Hawaii Democratic Candidates Bus Stop Tour

Come join your Democratic Candidates on Friday, October 26th as they travel around East Hawaii stopping off at four locations throughout the day and having rally’s.


Candidates scheduled to be on the bus are:

  • Governor Neil Abercrombie
  • Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz
  • Mazie Hirono
  • Tulsi Gabbard
  • Malama Solomon
  • Gil Kahele
  • Russell Ruderman
  • Josh Green
  • Mark Nakashima
  • Clift Tsuji
  • Faye Hanohano
  • Richard Onishi

The schedule for the “Bus Stop Tour” i:

  1. 9:30am- 11:00am Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School – Band Room
  2. 11:30am -1:30pm  North Hawaii Educational Center in Honoka’a
  3. 3:15pm – 4:45pm  Hawai’i Academy of Arts & Sciences Public Charter School in Pahoa
  4. 5:30pm – 7:30pm Aunty Sally’s in Hilo

Rally with your Representatives and Rock the Vote!


State Urges Testing for Hepatitis B and C in Honor of World Hepatitis Day

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Governor Brian Schatz have declared this Saturday, July 28, as Hepatitis Day in Hawai’i, coinciding with World Hepatitis Day. The proclamation recognizes the importance of hepatitis education and encourages testing for those at risk.

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” stated Thaddeus Pham, DOH Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before becoming ill.  The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome.”

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) is joining others across the nation and world to help raise awareness and support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people living with chronic viral hepatitis B and C.

According to DOH Immunization Branch estimates, 1 to 3 percent of people in Hawai’i have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiʻi has the highest rate of liver cancer in the United States.  “Many people with hepatitis B and C get liver damage or cirrhosis from the disease, which can be minimized by making healthy choices such as not drinking alcohol,” Pham said.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment, or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C. Anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, especially countries in Asia and the Pacific, should be screened for hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is easily spread from mother to child through contact with blood and other body fluids.

The DOH recommends anyone who may be at risk for hepatitis B and C to go to their healthcare providers to get tested. For those with little to no insurance, there are many DOH and community clinics statewide that offer free screenings to help people to find out their hepatitis B and C status. Individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to to find the free screening location nearest them.

More information on hepatitis B and C is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at, or by calling 1-888-443-7232.

For more information about World Hepatitis Day, go to

5th Annual China – U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit Held on Hawaii Island

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, welcomed tourism officials from across the U.S. and China attending the 5th Annual China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit on Hawai‘i Island today.

US-China Tourism Summit

US-China Tourism Summit

Members of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and China National Tourism Association (CNTA), including more than 60 regional tourism directors from the U.S. and China, met at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. The Summit, considered to be one of the top economic accomplishments by the two countries, is designed to build business through creating relationships and knowledge of both the Chinese and U.S. markets.

“The China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit is an important event to build on the growing relationship we have with China,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2007, opening group and leisure travel from China to the U.S., we have seen significant growth in this market, with visitor arrivals projected to reach 91,000 in 2011, up 37 percent over last year. This meeting also offers another opportunity to position Hawai‘i as a global meetings destination as our state prepares to host the 2011 APEC Leaders’ Week, and  builds on the growing interest of our state within the Asia- Pacific region.”

“We are very pleased and proud to host the 5th U.S.-China Travel Summit on the Island of Hawai‘i, and look forward to expanding our ties to tourism directors from both the Chinese and U.S. markets,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We offer a very special kind of experience for travelers, and are at the forefront of emerging areas of the visitor industry such as educational and agricultural tourism. We want to extend to our guests the warm hospitality and aloha that make our island home so special, and we welcome this opportunity to showcase our Island of Hawai`I for these key international travel industry leaders.”

Attendees were welcomed by Roger Dow, president and CEO of USTA, and Qiwei Shao,chairman of CNTA, to discuss and work toward enhancing tourism-related cooperation between the two countries.

Representing Hawai‘i was McCartney and Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, who both addressed the participants. Other speakers included Dr. Rachel JC Chen, Ph.D, Center for Sustainable Business and Tourism, University of Tennessee; Dr. Dai Bin, Ph.D, chairman, China Tourism Academy; Mike Lieberman, president and CEO, Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau; Gary Sain, president and CEO, Visit Orlando; Leigh Von Der Esch, managing director, Utah Office of Tourism; She Quingwen, director general, Tian Jin Tourism Administration; Chen Jianjun, director general, Guang Xi Tourism Administration; and Hao Kang Li, director general, Si Chuan Tourism Administration.

“This event has served as a bridge between the tour and travel industries in both  countries,” said Bruce Bommarito, senior international consulting partner of the USTA. “It also provides an opportunity to meet and build connections with relevant decision makers from China, a rapidly growing market, in the tourism industry.”

Established in 1998, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency, is responsible for strategically managing tourism to optimize benefits for Hawai‘i that integrates the interest of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Tourism is our state’s leading economic driver and largest employer and the HTA continually works to ensure its sustainability well into the future.

For more information on the HTA, please visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@HawaiiHTA).

State of Hawaii Selects AeroVironment to Deploy up to 320 Public Electric Vehicle Charging Docks in Support of Clean Energy Goal

Media Release:

Lt. Governor Brian Schatz today announced that AeroVironment has been selected to help lead the way to a cleaner transportation future through an $820,000 contract from the Hawaii EV Ready Grants Program. The contract will fund the deployment of up to 320 AeroVironment 240-volt electric vehicle (EV) charging docks throughout the islands. Once deployment is completed, Hawaii will have one of the nation’s first statewide public charging networks supporting electric vehicle drivers.

AeroVironment (AV), the official home charging-dock provider for the Nissan LEAF and co-developer of the first modern-day electric vehicle, the GM Impact, will partner with Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) to design and build public and semi-private charging stations at convenient locations for electric vehicle owners, including high-rise buildings, resorts and rental car facilities.

AeroVironment’s charging docks, including the two-port or four-port EVSE-RS+ and EVSE-CS (commercial) dock, will be strategically located throughout Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kauai to offer drivers a practical, safe and reliable EV charging experience. AeroVironment has installed more than 1,000 charging docks in more than 300 communities across 18 states since November 2010.

The State of Hawaii is offering a rebate of up to $500 for installing charging docks through its Hawaii EV Ready Rebate Program. Customers who purchase an EV are also eligible for a state rebate of up to $4,500. In combination with the Hawaii EV Ready Grant Program and other development efforts, the rebates aim to establish the state as a leader in the clean transportation movement.

“We look forward to working with AeroVironment to help reduce the use of oil for transportation,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president. “Wide use of electric vehicles will not only help reduce our fossil fuel dependence, it will make it easier to increase our use of renewable energy sources such as wind power and others, all contributing to our energy, economic and environmental security.”

Alm added, “AeroVironment shares this vision and is an outstanding example of a supplier with a comprehensive solution for the EV market, a history in Hawaii, experience working with leading auto manufacturers and consistent high quality customer support.”

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), University of Hawaii at Manoa will work with AeroVironment and Hawaiian Electric to collect data from chargers to analyze the impact of EVs and associated infrastructure on the power distribution grid.

“AeroVironment’s team focuses on the entire user experience from the start by providing the right tools and a full range of practical, groundbreaking solutions,” said Richard Rocheleau, director of the HNEI. “As a result, we’ll have the unique ability to collect and analyze usage patterns that will help us project the increased demand on Hawaii’s utilities as EV adoption accelerates.”

AeroVironment has been working on clean transportation programs in Hawaii for more than a decade, beginning with deployment of fast charging stations for passenger EVs in the early 2000s. AeroVironment also established world altitude records with its solar-electric, unmanned aircraft systems at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on Kauai.

“AeroVironment and the state of Hawaii are pioneers in the EV movement and have a long partnership focused on introducing clean transportation solutions,” said Mike Bissonette, senior vice president of Efficient Energy Systems for AeroVironment. “Together, we’re deploying practical solutions for a game-changing electric transportation ecosystem that will dramatically alter the vehicle refueling paradigm for drivers in Hawaii, the United States and the world.

Brian Schatz Files Strong Fundraising Report with $259,378

Media Release:

The Schatz campaign announced the results of their strong fundraising efforts for the last half of 2009. The Campaign Spending Commission Report which has been filed this morning shows $259,478 in the bank.

The Lieutenant Governor Campaign brought in contributions of more than 262 thousand dollars in 2009 as of the close of the reporting period ending December 31, 2009.

In the last reporting period which includes the final six months of 2009, the campaign brought in $120,531.72 contributions.

The early show of support and momentum demonstrates deep enthusiasm for our message of improving and changing state government, says Schatz. “We’ve seen people from across the state, from every sector, enthusiastic about changing the way state government works and getting our economy back on track. We’re grateful for the outpouring of support and believe it speaks volumes about the generosity of Hawaii’s people, and their commitment to a better future.”
Schatz notes that the fundraising success is especially challenging and critical in a difficult economy. “Resources are scarce in this economic environment, so we’re deeply appreciative of the support we’ve already garnered. We have a long way to go, but our message of changing the government for the better and fixing the economy is gaining traction.”

Brian Schatz served in the legislature for eight years as a member of the House, where he served as Majority Whip and Chair of the Economic Development Committee. He just completed his tenure as the Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, and remains involved with the Hawaii for Obama organization.

His candidacy was announced on January 10, 2010. His Campaign Chair is Chuck Freedman, and his Co-Chairs are Ron Matayoshi, Donna Hoshide, and Kim Yoshimoto.