Lieu­tenant gov­er­nor to re­sign, join lob­by­ing firm

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By AU­DREY McAVOY

HONOLULU — Lt. Gov. Shan Tsut­sui said Mon­day he would re­sign this week to join a lob­by­ing and pub­lic af­fairs firm. The move comes sev­eral years af­ter Tsut­sui pub­licly com­plained the gov­er­nor hadn’t given him enough re­spon­si­bil­ity, but he said his de­ci­sion had noth­ing to do with that.

Tsut­sui, a Demo­crat, pre­vi­ously said he did not plan to run for re-elec­tion. His res­ig­na­tion is ef­fec­tive Wed­nes­day.

The Se­nate pres­i­dent is next in line for the job, which pays an an­nual salary of nearly $152,000. But Se­nate Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Kouchi said he’s not in­ter­ested.

The House speaker has the next spot in the line of suc­ces­sion. House Speaker Scott Saiki hasn’t com­mented.

Tsut­sui said there’s never a per­fect time to leave of­fice, but he’s been given a new job op­por­tu­nity and a chance to spend more time on his home is­land of Maui.

Plus, he said the gov­er­nor has sent his budget and leg­isla­tive pack­age to law­mak­ers.

Tsut­sui’s own two ini­tia­tives — on af­ter-school pro­grams and bring­ing Hawai­igrown food to pub­lic school cafe­te­rias — also are in the

Leg­is­la­ture’s hands, he said.

He said he re­al­ized when tak­ing his old­est daugh­ter to col­lege in Septem­ber how much he was miss­ing from his chil­dren’s child­hoods by be­ing in elected of­fice and spend­ing so much time on Oahu in­stead of Maui. He has two other daugh­ters, ages 14 and 10.

“The chal­lenges of liv­ing on one is­land and work­ing on an­other one kind of takes its toll on the fam­ily a lit­tle. I have an op­por­tu­nity now to kind of fix some of that,” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view.

Tsut­sui be­came lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 2012, when then-Gov. Neil Aber­crom­bie ap­pointed his own lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, Brian Schatz, to fill the U.S. Se­nate seat va­cated when U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye died.

Tsut­sui was Se­nate pres­i­dent at the time. He rep­re­sented cen­tral Maui in the state Se­nate.

Un­der Aber­crom­bie, Tsut­sui led a sports de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive and had a seat at top strat­egy meet­ings.

Tsut­sui was re-elected in 2014 to a fouryear term when David Ige, a Demo­crat, was elected gov­er­nor.

How­ever, Tsut­sui told the Honolulu Star-Ad­ver­tiser in 2015 that he wasn’t nearly as in­volved in Ige’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as he was when he served un­der Aber­crom­bie, also a Demo­crat.

“I was in­volved in more strate­gic meet­ings; I was al­ways in­volved in those things un­der the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Tsut­sui said. “Un­der this ad­min­is­tra­tion, prob­a­bly not so much.”

Lieu­tenant gov­er­nors have lit­tle power in Hawaii un­less af­forded it by the gov­er­nor. The main role is to take over if the gov­er­nor be­comes in­ca­pable of do­ing the job.

Ige praised Tsut­sui’s work as lieu­tenant gov­er­nor and said the news left him with a “mix­ture of sad­ness and grat­i­tude.”

“He has ded­i­cated the last 15 years to serv­ing the peo­ple of Hawaii,” the gov­er­nor said in a state­ment.

Tsut­sui said the mis­sile alert mis­tak­enly sent to cell­phones and broad­cast sta­tions ear­lier this month by a Hawaii Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency em­ployee was un­re­lated to his de­ci­sion.

Tsut­sui will serve as se­nior vice pres­i­dent at Strate­gies 360, a firm that has of­fices in Hawaii, 11 other western states and Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

As­so­ci­ated Press file photo

Page A7 Lt. Gov. Shan Tsut­sui speaks Dec. 27, 2012, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Honolulu. Tsut­sui is re­sign­ing this week to join a lob­by­ing and pub­lic af­fairs firm.

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