Governor Linda Lingle yesterday announced the latest members of her cabinet. Honolulu attorney Mark Bennett was appointed state Attorney General, and Hawaii Republican leader Micah Kane will be the director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Both Bennett and Kane worked closely with Lingle during her gubernatorial campaign, Bennett as the party’s legal counsel and Kane as the party chairman. Bennett has said he will recuse himself from legal proceedings in which he participated in private practice, including the state’s pending antitrust litigation against oil companies. Kane will resign as GOP Hawaii chairman when he takes office on Jan. 2.
Kane, a native Hawaiian, said his primary focus will be to unclog the DHHL’s notoriously long waiting list, and that he plans to distribute homestead lands to all interested, entitled individuals within five years. He said he will also work on reinstating the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Individual Claims Review Panel in order to resolve past claims.
The panel was dissolved in 1999, with 1,376 claims left unsettled.
“I have worked closely with Micah for the past five years in achieving goals that many thought impossible,” Lingle said. “Distributing homestead land to all those on the waiting list is simply one more goal that others may see as ‘impossible,’ but that we will achieve together.”
Bennett is a litigation partner with the McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon law firm, and has extensive government litigation experience. He previously served seven years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Honolulu and for two years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C.
“Mark’s experience and understanding of legal issues at the federal, state and county levels make him ideally suited to carry out the duties of the state attorney general,” Lingle said.