Hanabusa staffer resigns after drug lobbying controversy

A top staffer to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) has resigned after offering to act as a liaison between Hanabusa's Senate campaign and the pharmaceutical drug industry.

Deputy chief of staff Chris Raymond acknowledged no wrongdoing in his statement but said he was resigning because he'd become a "distraction" to Hanabusa's primary campaign against Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

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"I have not violated any campaign finance laws, and it is unfortunate what a distraction this misunderstanding has become," he said in a statement to Hawaii press. "This is a once-in-a-generation Senate race and, as such, the conversation should be focused on Colleen's proven track record and clearly demonstrated leadership. In an effort to bring the conversation back to what's important — Colleen's vast experience and myriad accomplishments — I am resigning my position as Deputy Chief of Staff effective immediately."

Raymond had emailed other staff to say the pharmaceutical industry was on board with helping Hanabusa defeat Schatz and wanted to coordinate a campaign with her office, a move that would likely violate Federal Election Commission Law. The emails were obtained by The Washington Post.

Hanabusa's office said at the time he had simply misunderstood what pharmaceutical lobbyists were allowed to do to help the campaign.

Earlier this week, a Hawaii attorney filed an FEC complaint asking for an investigation into Raymond's actions.

Hanabusa, traveling in Israel with a congressional delegation, praised her former staffer in a statement.

"Chris Raymond worked hard to help me represent the people of Hawaii's First Congressional District and his efforts helped build a better future for my constituents," she said. "I want to thank Chris for his service and I wish him well in all of his future endeavors."