HONOLULU - Republican gubernatorial contender James "Duke" Aiona on Wednesday accused his Democratic rival's campaign of spreading what Aiona claimed is a misleading video highlighting his association with an evangelical religious group.
Aiona alleges Neil Abercrombie's social media director, L.P. "Neenz" Faleafine, recently posted tweets with a link to a website containing the video. The video was produced by a Massachusetts-based blogger and freelance journalist, who posted it on YouTube last week.
Aiona, the incumbent lieutenant governor, said in a news conference that Faleafine "is spreading what I would call unconscionable, fabricated video attacking me and my personal faith." Aiona is Catholic.
"This politically motivated attack video takes quotes out of context, it splices videos together, it manufactures patently false statements as they relate to a faith-based organization," he added.
An Abercrombie spokeswoman said the tweets were distributed on Faleafine's personal Twitter account.
"The information rebroadcasted by members of the Abercrombie campaign was not produced or generated by our campaign," said Laurie Au.
"Voters have been expressing concern that Duke Aiona is mixing religion with politics in a way that may not be appropriate in Hawaii today," she added. "Our social media team, by sharing this information, did not engage in negative campaigning."
Faleafine did not respond to a request for comment.
The video was produced by Bruce Wilson, who co-founded a blog about religion and politics. It includes clips of Aiona at a 2009 meeting in Hawaii of the International Transformation Network, an evangelical Christian group, and its local arm, Transformation Hawaii.
Other clips are of ITN's 2008 meeting in Argentina in which a pastor calls on followers to collect idolatrous objects to be burned, and of Aiona urging viewers to attend a 2005 ITN meeting in Hawaii.
The video also displays a gift disclosure statement from Aiona. An unidentified narrator said Aiona violated state ethics rules by accepting several thousand dollars in travel expenses in 2006 and 2007 to attend another ITN meeting overseas.
Aiona noted Wednesday that a complaint about the gifts by community activist Carroll Cox was dismissed in August by the state Ethics Commission.
"Less than two weeks until election day, our opponent has engaged in dirty politics," Aiona said. "Our opponent stood against negative campaigning in the primary campaign, and I ask him now to stand up against it."
Aiona said he has participated in Transformation Network events over the years but is not a member.
"I am not a part of the Transformation Network," he added.
Wilson said ITN leaders appear to believe that gays are possessed by demons and that native art should be destroyed.
"It would be hard for Duke Aiona to be more enmeshed in Transformation Hawaii," Wilson said. "I'm just observing, here's Duke Aiona. He's heavily involved with this movement. Here's what the movement believes."
Earlier Wednesday, Abercrombie criticized a flyer financed by the Republican Governors Association that accuses the Democrat of "siding with Washington" and being "out of touch with Hawaii."
Abercrombie said, "This accusation on behalf of the Aiona campaign comes from a group in Washington, D.C. They don't live in Hawaii, they don't know anything about Hawaii and what's more, they don't care about Hawaii."