Appointee to Hawaii Senate called for governor's impeachment

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Gov. David Ige’s appointee to a Hawaii Senate seat previously called for his impeachment in a post on social media.

Ige selected Laura Clint Acasio from a list of three candidates presented by Democratic Party officials to replace former Sen. Kai Kahele, West Hawaii Today reported Thursday.

The Democratic governor on Tuesday chose Acasio to complete the remainder of Kahele's term representing the greater Hilo area through 2022. She was sworn in Wednesday morning. Kahele was elected to Congress in November.

Acasio, a teacher who has served in multiple leadership roles with the state Democratic Party, has used her public Facebook page to express opposition to the planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

The project on the state's tallest peak, which is considered a sacred site by some Native Hawaiians, sparked a high-profile protest and blockade of a mountain access road for months.

A pair of July 19, 2019, posts by Acasio criticized the governor and accusing him of lying about the project. A third post the same day included a link to a change.org petition with the message “IMPEACH IGE!” in capital letters.

Whether Ige knew about the posts before Acasio's appointment was not revealed, but his staff did not express concern.

“The governor stands by his appointment and believes that Ms. Acasio’s broad experience and active community engagement would best serve the district,” Ige's office said in an email. “He is ready to work with Ms. Acasio and all members of the Hawaii State Legislature in the best interest of the people of the state of Hawaii.”

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Friday that Acasio acknowledged signing the change.org petition. She told reporters she didn’t know if Ige was aware of that before appointing her.

Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Tyler Dos Santos-Tam said several people sent him copies of Acasio’s post.

“Sen. Acasio is someone who is very passionate about the issues she cares about, and so it’s no surprise to me that on an issue like Mauna Kea and TMT, she would feel very strongly,” Dos Santos-Tam said.