Gabbard ties to cult in background as fatal boating accident case goes to prosecutors

I’m wondering how long it will take the mainstream media to acknowledge the widely available information linking the operator of the boat involved in a fatal accident off Kailua Beach to a well-known cult, and its association with Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

It’s obviously a politically sensitive issue, and everybody is being as careful as possible as they report on the incident.

There were a couple of important news stories yesterday, KHON reported that the accident case had finally been turned over to city prosecutors by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The report questioned the delay, and asked whether DLNR staff are trained to handle this kind of criminal investigation. The story also questioned whether the boat involved in the incident had been impounded or evidence gathered from it after the incident.

Other online accounts have reported the boat was not impounded and has been spotted and photographed in Kailua.

KHON identified the boat’s operator and registered owner, Sai Hansen, but did not pursue the link to the Science of Identity Foundation, which is the legal entity behind the cult headed by Chris Butler, known as Jagad Guru.

Hawaii News Now reported prosecutors are considering negligent homicide charges against Hansen.

HNN also reported that Hansen has a history of complaints regarding dangerous operations of the boat in the same area.

“I’ve received reports, several reports, of the activities of an individual down there with an orange zodiac racing up and down the waters,” said Heen.

“The people in Kailua that I have heard from are crying out for something to be done to curb the activities of this one individual.”

Heen’s surfacing in the case could become significant. Heen is a former federal judge and former chair of the Democratic Party in Hawaii.

Last year, Civil Beat did a good job of running down the “rumors” of Gabbard’s ties to the Butler cult (“Tulsi Gabbard Still Dogged By Krishna Cult Rumors“). It’s a good summary of what’s publicly known.

At that time, Gabbard dodged questions about her ties to the Butler group.

The handling of the case against Sai Hansen shifts the focus from simply whether or not Congresswoman Gabbard was ever a member of the cult, to whether her ties to the group resulted in special treatment by authorities.

Hawaii News Now quoted Walter Heen:

“I am relieved that the prosecutor is taking it over. There has been some rumors, there have been some rumors for years that the DLNR has gone easy on regulating activities down there in general,” said former state appellate court judge Walter Heen, who is Shim’s uncle.

Whether he’s referring to DLNR going light on activities associated with the cult, or to commercial activities on Kailua Beach, isn’t clear.

But it’s sounding more like the questions need to be asked.

17 responses to “Gabbard ties to cult in background as fatal boating accident case goes to prosecutors

  1. Whatever the reason–be it Tulsi or something else–the local press has handled this boat owner with kid gloves from the beginning of this story. Makes one wonder why some people who kill people in the water or on the road are handled so gently, while others aren’t.

    • Kid gloves? Other than KHON (who is to be commended for their fair reporting), all the stories I saw were complete hit jobs. Even an eyewitness to the accident commented that HNN’s story was not at all accurate and more like a tabloid story.

  2. The cult stuff is all interesting background but doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with a boating accident, nor do Gabbard’s alleged ties to the cult, although those ties should have been explored a LOT more diligently by media a LONG time ago based on their own merit.

    It also seems quite a stretch to suggest that Heen was referring to cult or commercial activities in his comments about DLNR’s rumored laxity of enforcement. More likely, he was referring to lax enforcement of boating safety regulations.

    Maybe the cult background will be referenced in a profile of the defendent if he is charged. Maybe the Gabbard link is fair game then, but it still seems like a stretch unless she was especially close to him or somehow involves herself in his defense.

  3. i have the exact same perspective as Judith on this issue. this fatal accident in Kailua has severely lacked in follow-up reporting.

    making silly political allegations based on rumor is garbage reporting ……. but ignoring key facts is just as weak. the name “Sai Hansen” should have set off alarms from the very day of the homicide.

  4. I think the more relevant connection is Tulsi’s father, State Sen. Mike Gabbard who Chairs the Senate Water, Land and Agriculture Committee. IF there was political pressure on DLNR to go soft on enforcing certain regulations, etc. in the area, his committee has the oversight responsibility over DLNR. So his kuleana would be greater than that of Tulsi’s (in this case) but it underscores the scary proposition that the cult members have people in positions of power at both the State and Federal levels of government.

  5. Judge Heen served in many important public positions in our state, but “former fed’l judge,” while technically correct, perhaps misguides readers. His tenure there was brief and not confirmed by the US senate.

  6. I pretty much agree with the views of “Stretching It.” Absent any evidence of Gabbard family intervention in the DLNR investigation, it doesn’t seem relevant for the media to link the congresswoman to this tragic incident, based on no other link but a religious one. I mean, should every politician be held up for public scrutiny each time someone else sharing the same religious affiliation commits a misdeed? Hey, if anyone here has solid evidence to show Chris Butler and/or the Gabbards engaged in a whitewash, then I’m all ears for that. But for now, this conspiracy theory is nothing but fumes.

    Here’s my take on the situation: DLNR is simply incompetent when it comes to law enforcement and investigation. And that incompetence runs all the way up to the dept’s highest leadership. I’m looking at you, Suzanne Case.

    • Finally a voice of reason. The nutso rumors swirling around this case (with zero substantiation) have gotten out of control.

  7. I think “vastly underfunded” might be a more accurate way to describe DLNR’s situation, rather than saying their DOCARE division is incompetent.

  8. In this particular case, it wasn’t level of funding that was to blame for DLNR flubbing the investigation. The news of Sri Shim getting killed in this boating incident was headline news on all the local news stations. In a high profile situation like this, someone in authority at the dept. should have made sure that the boat in question (along with all other pieces of evidence) was impounded for a proper investigation. But that decision was never made. The failure to preserve the evidence the evidence while it was still fresh is an example of incompetence, if this was an oversight on the part of everyone who works at DLNR. And while they may be underfunded to carry out their overall mission, the dept. is not so poor that they couldn’t have one of their officers seize the vessel. Sorry “Johnson,” but if one were to accept your excuse for this blunder, then everyone at the state will be using the same “but we are underfunded” script to escape from accountability.

  9. Conversely, would it be fair to now wonder if Heen’s involvement will result in extra-harsh prosecution of the suspect? Is this prosecutor really above such political considerations?

  10. Are mormons a cult? Are jews a cult? Like the word haole, that term is more often than not pejorative. Why the need to bash someone for their beliefs? Wait …. I get it … they almost made the cut … but the anti-homosexual thing crossed the line. Hence, a cult.

  11. “Allen” raises good points; however I must disagree about future use of the “underfunded” argument. That horse is already out of the barn and is used in virtually all explanations of State and County screw ups.

  12. What does Hansen’s ties to a cult, or Gabbard’s ties to the founder of that cult have to do with investigating whether there was reckless operation of a powered boat?
    I fail to see the connection between the accident and guru Chris Butler, Gabbard or anybody else.

  13. Shri Shim’s death was a tragedy that could have been prevented, but not by requiring boaters and senators to belong to approved religions.

  14. If there was even one phone call from State Senator Mike Gabbard’s office to DNLR that could be regarded as interference in the investigation, then the electorate of Hawaii deserve to have this information.
    Politicians have been impeached for far less.

  15. It’s pono?ole that Walter Heen, former Hawaii judge and Shim’s uncle, is overtly trying to influence the outcome of this case in his statements to HNN.

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