Judicial Watch Asks Hawaiian Court to Order Release of State Records for Hawaiian Racial Registration Campaign
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on February 17, 2015, it filed an Application For An Order Allowing Inspection of Public Records against Hawaii’s Native Hawaiian Roll Commission (NHRC) and its Executive Director, Clyde W. Namuo, to obtain records regarding the enrollment list of “Native” Hawaiians created pursuant to the Kana’iolowalu, the NHRC’s controversial racial registration campaign. The Judicial Watch legal action was filed in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
On July 20, 2012, using taxpayer funds from the State’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the NHRC launched the Kana’iolowalu campaign, opening a registration process for Native Hawaiians who desired to vote for a new race-based sovereign government.
When the registration process closed in January 2014 – after a long and expensive marketing effort – only 40,000 Native Hawaiians had registered.
The NHRC then reopened registration in March and again in August of 2014. During this period, the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs transferred government lists of “Native Hawaiians” who had previously registered their “ancestry” with the State agency to the Kana’iolowalu campaign. At least 87,000 names were transferred to the NHRC’s enrollment list. Individuals who object to being added to the race-based voter roll without their permission must file a form to have their names removed.
This enrollment list is being created under Act 195, the 2011 Hawaii law that authorizes the NHRC to create a list of “Native Hawaiians” who would be eligible to vote on issues concerning the sovereignty of the “Native Hawaiian people.” Act 195 defines a “Native Hawaiian” as any person whom the government determines to be a direct descendant of the State’s aboriginal peoples. A person may register for the Kana’iolowalu if, besides meeting the law’s racial requirements, that individual has “maintained a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community” and “wishes to participate” in organizing an anticipated “Native Hawaiian governing entity.”
The NHRC defines Kana’iolowalu as “the din that is being created by the mass of people who are coming together and moving forward to strive and achieve and recognize the unrelinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people …”
Judicial Watch has partnered with Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, an independent state think tank that has had longstanding concerns about Hawaii’s efforts to form and gain federal recognition of a race-based, sovereign nation are not in the best interest of either Native Hawaiians or the general population.
On August 8, 2014, after the NHRC roll had reportedly exceeded 125,000 registrants, Judicial Watch requested that the NHRC provide it with “the complete enrollment list of Native Hawaiians, known as the Kana’iolowalu.” On September 4, Clyde Namuo, on behalf of the NHRC, refused to produce the list, claiming that the NHRC’s work “is continuing and the complete enrollment list of Native Hawaiians you requested does not exist at this time.”
On September 5, 2014, Judicial Watch rephrased its request to ask for copies of the “enrollment list of Native Hawaiians, known as the Kana’iolowalu, as it existed at any one point in time following your receipt of this request.” It also asked for copies of “all documents discussing the decision to reopen, in or August 2014, registration for the Kana’iolowalu.” On September 25, 2014, Namuo again refused production of the requested documents on the grounds that “our registration work is ongoing and a certified enrollment list of Native Hawaiians does not exist at this time,” and that “Kana’iolowalu have never ceased” and “there is no need for documentation to administratively reopen the registration roll.”
As Judicial Watch pointed out in its court Application to enforce Hawaii’s open records law (the Uniform Information Practices Act):
Judicial Watch twice asked for the enrollment list as it exists along with documents regarding the reopening of registration, while NHRC irrationally responds that no such “certified” list exists and there is no “need” for documentation. Judicial Watch never asked for a “certified” list – just the list as it exists.
“Racial classifications in order to allocate political power and government benefits have no place in Hawaii or anywhere in the United States. Hawaii public officials and the Obama administration are playing the race card to undermine the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s sovereignty,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our court action highlights the scandal of a state agency harvesting names of citizens and then refusing to follow the law in disclosing its records.”
“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is proud to work with Judicial Watch to ensure that Hawaiian groups and the public can hold the state agency OHA and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission accountable,” added Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “We also are seeking, through a separate request, a full and accurate accounting of the financial transactions of the Roll Commission.”
Judicial Watch is being represented in this litigation by Michael Lilly of Ning, Lilly & Jones, a Honolulu law firm.