Gabbard, Hirono clash

  • Contributed photo

    U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono

  • Contributed photo

    U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

LIHUE — While media surrounding Hawaii’s U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Tuesday opinion piece in The Hill points to a clash between Gabbard and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, Gabbard’s office says the two are still working together.

“She (Gabbard) respects Senator Hirono, and they have a good relationship working together, and will continue to do so for Hawaii,” said Lauren Mcllvaine, spokeswoman for Gabbard.

She continued: “The piece was not directed at Senator Hirono, and she never mentioned Senator Hirono in the piece. The point overall is about protecting religious freedom and calling out religious bigotry.”

The opinion piece was written after the U.S. Senate questioning of U.S. District Court nominee Brian Buescher, from Nebraska, during which two Democratic senators — Hawaii’s Hirono and Kamala Harris of California — reportedly asked Buescher whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent impartiality in the position of District Court judge.

Knights of Columbus has made a public stance on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and senators questioned whether Buescher could make clear decisions without involving his personal beliefs on those kinds of issues.

The piece itself encourages standing up for religious freedom and against using religion as a weapon for one’s own gain.

“While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus,” Gabbard wrote in the opinion piece.

She continued: “If Buescher is ‘unqualified’ because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the ‘liberal lion of the Senate’ Ted Kennedy would have been ‘unqualified’ for the same reasons.”

Hirono’s office Thursday explained the reasoning behind her line of questioning, saying Hirono was concerned Buescher would be unable to separate his personal beliefs from decisions he’d have to make if he was a judge in U.S. District Court.

The office also pointed out that Hirono has been subject to ongoing political attacks because of the stances she’s taken on President Donald Trump’s nominees.

“It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Gabbard based her misguided opinion on the far-right-wing manipulation of these straightforward questions,” said Hirono spokesman Will Dempster.

Gabbard’s office, however, says she’s not criticizing Hirono; she’s “standing up for religious freedom no matter who is lobbying the attack or directed against any religion.”

Reports also state that Hirono’s office wasn’t given a heads up that the piece was going to be published, but that’s par for the course when it comes to Gabbard, according to Mcllvaine.

She said “it’s not typical” for Gabbard to run messages like the opinion piece through the rest of the delegation.

“While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office,” she wrote in the opinion piece.


Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or

  1. harry oyama January 11, 2019 2:39 am Reply

    Gabbard is absolutely right about the Kennedys being Catholic, yet Hirono makes no mention of them. Only when it suits her own left wing agenda, does she come out against it. What a hypercrite, during the swearing in of her Congressional seat, did she not put her right hand on the bible and repeated the judge’s words?

    That’s why I didn’t vote for Hirono who never served in the military as Gabbard is still doing. It is an insult when she tries to thank us veterans for our service.

  2. Jake January 11, 2019 3:59 am Reply

    You can “cherry pick” anything about an individual…..

    These “Senators” and “Congressmen/women” are supposed to be adults. How about reviewing facts, credentials, past performance, education, continuing education, accomplishments………vice cherry picking “Do you believe heaven, and if you don’t, do you think this will influence your decisions while driving by a cemetery on the way to work”?

    Pandering and grandstanding. These professional politicians need to get a grip on what defines “work” on a daily basis. Asking about your religion (hobby) during a hiring process is sophomoric.

  3. Amused January 11, 2019 5:38 am Reply

    Sounds like Tulsi is now backpedaling after experiencing flak from her opinion piece. So typical of her! She was publicity-seeking, as usual, and it backfired.

  4. noknightsforme January 11, 2019 5:53 am Reply

    All congressional members should cease the pandering to religious groups: period! Its unfortunate Gabbard seems to never miss an opportunity to get herself in the news over a non-issue. And, many catholics know that the “Knights” are not a a wing or branch of roman catholics…at all! Gabbard should do her homework as to when and why the “Knights” were formed in the first place, and exactly who and what they represent! Blind siding a congressional colleague is not good form, and every judicial nominee can, and should be questioned about each and every facet of their belief, and lives! If they dont like it, they can always refuse the nomination. It’s a lifetime appointment, after all. Religious “freedom”, indeed. More like a pathetic attempt at scoring political points, and Gabbard certainly does not miss a opp to do that!

  5. Marie Margret January 11, 2019 6:53 am Reply

    Mugsy Hirono needs to be recalled/impeached.
    Surely this beautiful state does not need politicians who are racists, sexists and religious bigots?
    She sounds amazingly like Kamala Harris. Both think they are deep thinkers, capable of even higher places in government.
    Both unfortunately are showing a very narrow mindset.

  6. Bluedream January 11, 2019 7:25 am Reply

    Tulsi was merely pointing out how much of a divisive idiot Senator Hirono is. Tulsi is much brighter then the dim witted fossil that is Mazie, who routinely thinks any dissent from her is somehow “right wing blah blah”. Like all self described leftist, Mazie is not above name calling if she is refuted. We here it everyday from totalitarian “progressives” : “stormtrooper”, “orange blob”, “racists” etc.. it’s like trying to reason with a cruel 5 year old.

  7. RG DeSoto January 11, 2019 8:15 am Reply

    “Knights of Columbus has made a public stance on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and senators questioned whether Buescher could make clear decisions without involving his personal beliefs on those kinds of issues.”

    Translation: will he make decisions that are aligned with Hirono and Harris…otherwise “off with his head”!

    RG DeSoto

  8. LMat January 11, 2019 8:26 am Reply

    Sounds like Hirono’s questions were fair. I’m sure she didn’t ask nominee Buesher to “renounce his faith”. As a citizen of this country, I sure as hell would want to make sure my leaders are not religiously biased. Tulsi’s, uh… unconventional, shall we say, choice in “religion” is questionable at best, but hey, live and let live, as long as it doesn’t impair or hinder sound decisions and choices. I don’t think asking these questions is a stab at religious freedom.

    1. ConstanceBuena January 11, 2019 10:50 am Reply

      Surprisingly, Hirono did ask him to renounce the Knights. Here’s her exact statement from the hearing: “The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”

  9. I saw a Vampire once January 11, 2019 9:15 am Reply

    I think there is some tension. You have Tulsi Gabbard, background is in the military. Then you have Mazie Hirono, a lawyer. Academically, something’s got to cave in when the two meet each other. That part of Hirono that says no to military will always standout.

  10. I saw a Vampire once January 11, 2019 10:36 am Reply

    I called the former mayor a crap. I sent a letter to the newspaper, but apparently they felt it wasn’t good enough. In the letter I pointed out how the mayor is doing nothing worth while. AJA baseball, housing projects, April flooding, luncheons, and so forth. So best I put it in here for whomever I represented, former students at the high schools who cannot voice their opinions because they feel they’re being bull dozed over in the community and taken advantage of by these giants, Sports icons.

    You know bloggers like myself, but still feel they have bills to pay and cannot voice anything. Lame. I wonder if any of you is keeping up why they want to be heard. To make a difference. Barely get by. Dependent on family. Not enough income. Family, but not head of household. Church maybe. Anything I want to add here before they trash me?

  11. Minnesota January 11, 2019 10:51 am Reply

    Gabbard 100% everything she says is correct. This is why the dishonest corrupt politicians like Hirono attack her.

  12. Robert Edwards January 11, 2019 10:52 am Reply

    Senator HIrono was clearing making a direct reference to Buescher’s Catholic faith. It is a clear religious test for office that should be condemned by everyone. Senator’s Hirono’s recent tirades suggest that she is not suitable for the office. She is certainly not representative of the beautiful melting pot that is the State of Hawaii.

  13. I saw a Vampire once January 11, 2019 11:02 am Reply

    Is Ross Kagawa or Bernard P. Carvalho jr. paying any bills? Because they are not smart and they are not qualified.

    Politics too…..

  14. rk669 January 11, 2019 6:09 pm Reply

    MORONo,our very own Maxine Watters of the Pacific! Reflecting the Education System of Hawai’i!

  15. Sophie January 16, 2019 7:05 am Reply

    Hirono was clearly referring to the political aspect of KofC, a far right organization which is primarily political, and only secondarily Catholic. (Historically, the relationship was the other way around, but the politics became paramount in the last few decades.) The First Amendment always calls for some very careful slicing of the difference. Hirono is an attorney, and therefore very clear on the delicate balance. Gabbard is a political hack whose opinion sways with the wind. Be careful.

  16. Stephen M. Dwyer August 1, 2019 12:14 am Reply

    Hirono is an obvious Bought and PAID for puppet of the Deep State ..what a DISGRACE to America..On the other hand Gabbard seems to be the type of clean puppet free American we need to REP all of us..I HATE LABELS like DEMOCRAT or REPUBLICAN I just like the LABEL AMERICANS!!!!! FREE of EVIL CABALS and DEEP STATE NITWITS who SELL OUR UNION OUT

  17. H Munster March 8, 2021 8:42 am Reply

    Hirono is pure evil. She is a man hating racist.

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