In February 2016, the law firm Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing invited me to be a speaker at their annual retreat. I was asked to serve as a commenter on a bus tour of the Waianae Coast. The firm’s goal was to educate its employees about the challenging issues facing the Waianae Coastme and some of the positive things happening to address the challenges.
The retreat was at the Aulani Resort, and the firm invited my family and me to stay at the hotel for one night and attend the Paradise Cove Luau along with the rest of the firm during its retreat. Since I was being asked to “work,” I did not realize it would be considered a gift law violation to accept the firm’s offer.
Unfortunately I was unaware that a reporter was trying to contact me on 09/05/16 until after I saw the news story that evening. I was traveling from California to Hawaii that day returning from a Labor Day weekend trip with my family, and my phone had died by the time I got off the plane.
I have a great deal of respect for Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, which has often worked to support public interest causes. The firm did not ask me for anything other than to help educate its employees about the issues facing the Waianae Coast. I have not and will not provide any special treatment to the firm.
The reporter referred to a gifts law bill that I supported. I checked with him, and he said it was SB 2425. The bill, which did not pass, would have “Exempt[ed] school employees of the Department of Education or Charter Schools from the State Ethics Code relating to gifts, gift reporting, and conflicts of interest if certain conditions are met.” SB 2425 was strongly supported by the DOE, the teachers’ union, and others, and referred specifically to educational conferences that teachers are invited to attend. Here is a link to the bill, including the testimony: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2425&year=2016
I am extremely sorry for this oversight on my part and take full responsibility for this incident. I have repaid the value of what I received to the State of Hawaii, and I welcome your questions and concerns.
Here is a link to the news story:
Senator Maile Shimabukuro
(Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Ma`ili, Wai`anae, Makaha, Makua)
State Capitol, Room 222
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
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