Hanabusa aide quits following Post report

August 8, 2013
Colleen Hanabusa is running for Senate. (Marco Garcia/AP Photo) Colleen Hanabusa (Marco Garcia/AP)

A top aide in Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's (D-Hawaii) office has resigned after a Washington Post report said that he attempted to coordinate campaign spending by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) with Hanabusa's Senate campaign.

Christopher Raymond, Hanabusa's deputy chief of staff, resigned Wednesday, a day after a Federal Election Commission complaint was filed against him.

"I have not violated any campaign finance laws, and it is unfortunate what a distraction this misunderstanding has become," Raymond said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is the most qualified person to serve as Hawaii's next U.S. senator, and I have been honored and privileged to work for her."

Hanabusa is challenging appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

The Post's Matea Gold reported two weeks ago:

Such an effort, described in an e-mail obtained by The Washington Post, could run afoul of campaign finance laws, which prohibit candidates and their staff from substantial discussions with interest groups about their independent political activities.Campaign officials blamed the e-mail on a misinformed staffer.

“He made inaccurate assumptions about the type of help PhRMA could provide the campaign,” campaign spokesman Peter Boylan said.

Matt Bennett, a spokesman for PhRMA, said officials there did not offer to do a campaign on Hanabusa’s behalf. But he said the group had “preliminary” discussions about hosting an industry fundraiser for Hanabusa through its political action committee.

He also said that a PhRMA lobbyist had spoken with Jennifer Sabas, a top Hanabusa campaign adviser, but that they had talked only about the state of the Democratic primary campaign in Hawaii.“They discussed the race and what’s happening on the ground,” Bennett said.

Boylan echoed that, saying Sabas did not provide PhRMA with any information “that would constitute coordination in violation of the law.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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