Monsanto seats lobbyist on panel to select water commission

Correction and update 2/10/13
An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that Takemoto was nominated to the water commission itself. The post has been updated to clarify that Takemoto has been appointed to the nominating committee. This post has also been updated to include information on other nominating committee members.

Update 2/11/13 3:00 pm
John Radcliffe has turned down the appointment.

Update 2/13/13
According to sources at the water commission, the Governor has withdrawn the appointment of John Radcliffe, and has appointed Guy Kaulukukui to the nominating committee.

Two A Monsanto lobbyist is on a four-person Nominating Committee tasked with recommending names for the state water commission, the Independent has learned.

The Nominating Committee comprises two appointees from the Governor, one from the State Senate president, and one from the House Speaker. The Nominating Committee presents three names to the Governor for each Water Commission vacancy; once appointed and confirmed by the Senate, the commissioners serve four-year terms, overseeing water resources throughout the state.

There are currently two vacant seats on the Water Commission.

According to sources in the state senate, the Governor has appointed Rebecca Soon, chief executive of Solutions Pacific (and the daughter of Ray Soon, former DHHL director and New Day campaign treasurer).

Monsanto is getting a boost from the state senate as well. Senate president Kim has appointed Alan Takemoto, Monsanto lobbyist and community affairs executive.

House Speaker Joe Souki has appointed Denise Antolini, a UH environmental law professor, to the nominating committee. 


John Radcliffe is an insider at 415 S. Beretania. He was HSTA executive director from 1975 to 1988; is a corporate and union lobbyist, representing a range of companies in telecom, finance, gambling, and tobacco; and advised Governors Waihee, Cayetano, and Abercrombie. In 2011, Radcliffe’s daughter Romy was appointed by Abercrombie to direct the State Health Planning and Development Agency. Since 2009, the Radcliffe family has donated $21,300 to the Abercrombie campaign. And from 2008 to 2012, Radcliffe’s firm Capitol Consultants was a lobbyist for Monsanto, earning $24,000 from the biotech firm, according to an analysis of lobbyist expenditure reports.


According to Senator Donna Mercado Kim’s office, Takemoto was appointed at the recommendation of the subject matter chair, Senator Malama Solomon.

Prior to his tenure at Monsanto, Takemoto worked for 16 years at the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, including serving as its Executive Director for four years. He is also a member of the Agribusiness Development Corporation, and has served as a member of the City and County of Honolulu’s Agricultural Development Task Force, the City and County of Honolulu Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission, and the Board of Advisors of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agricultural and Human Resources.

What it means

The decisions of the water commission affect the future of land development and agriculture. Monsanto has an ongoing interest in the water commission: last year, Monsanto unsuccessfully applied for a permit that would provide a backup water source for its Central Oahu crop research operations. The commission denied the request, after several months of negotiation between Commission and Monsanto staff.

Is Monsanto’s money making an impact?

In 2012, Senator Malama Solomon received $2,000 in political contributions from Monsanto. State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim received $1,000 from Monsanto in 2009.

According to, Hawaii politicians received the fifth largest share, by state, of Monsanto’s 2012 political contributions, with $24,000 invested here. For a sense of scale, California politicians – the United States’ largest agricultural producer, received more than $7 million in contributions from Monsanto. Monsanto invested only $500 in Tennessee – half of what it contributed to Senator Kim.