Statement in Response to Ethics Violation 

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:

http://m.hawaiinewsnow.com/hawaiinewsnow/db/330510/content/gmU0eO5O

Aloha,
Senator Maile Shimabukuro
District 21
(Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Ma`ili, Wai`anae, Makaha, Makua)
State Capitol, Room 222
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
808-586-7793 phone
808-586-7797 facsimile
maileshimabukuro@yahoo.com
Facebook: Like Me
Twitter: @SenMaile
Blog: http://21maile.com

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One Response

  1. Hawaii News Now’s Rick Daysog is an outstanding investigative reporter. However, in his 5 Sep. 2016 article “State Lawmaker Pays Fine to Resolve Ethics Investigation,” he drops the ball. His article is a study in all that can go wrong when writers fail to dig deep enough.

    Going to press before interviewing Senator Shimabukuro to get her side of the story is simply poor journalism. Yes, he tried, but he couldn’t get through. In the service of truth, he should have waited and tried again instead of rushing for a scoop. In her response above, the senator explains that she had just returned from a trip and her cell phone battery had died. She did contact Daysog, but the piece had already been published.

    Daysog’s opening paragraph is inflammatory, turning his “report” into an op-ed. Assuming that he’s done his homework, his twisting of the intent of the senator and her colleagues’ SB 2425 into “a bill that would have gutted the state’s gift law” is incredible. The juxtaposition of this opening with his “exposé” of the senator’s fine casts an extremely negative shadow on the senator’s integrity.

    The fact that the senator reported the gift in her disclosure form is pooh-poohed by Daysog and Lind. The fact is, the senator made no attempt to hide it, assuming that it was within the rules. In other words, the revelation was already in plain sight when Daysog decided to “expose” it in a move that can only be interpreted as sensationalism.

    The reporter’s failure to interview the senator before publishing results in a story that’s filled with half truths. Sadly, the esteemed Ian Lind also passes judgment without knowing the facts. Lodgings and meals in exchange for expert briefings, commentaries, and speeches at conferences and workshops is part of the life of a politician. This was the basis for the senator’s decision to accept. It was an opportunity to educate influential members of our society about the Wai’anae Coast.

    The fact that the Ethics Commission is fining the senator for being less than “reasonable” in accepting the compensation is also a judgment call. I respect the commission’s decision, but I don’t agree with it.

    In all fairness, Daysog and Lind should read Sen. Shimabukuro’s response to their article and publish a second piece that reflects a deeper understanding that includes her side of the story.

    Finally, to ignore the senator’s 13 years of hard, honest, and successful work as a legislator and to imply financial greed (for lodging and meals worth $739) as her motivator is simple ignorance of her character. Anyone who knows the senator realizes that she lives frugally by choice. She is neither impressed by nor influenced by wealth and power. Her sole concern is the welfare of the people on the Wai’anae Coast.

    I continue to have great respect for Daysog and Lind, but I believe, in this instance, they’ve opted for the sensational rather than the truth.

    As a follow-up exercise for Daysog and Lind, I would suggest informally and randomly interviewing people in her district and people who have known her for a long time. Ask them two questions: Is the senator greedy and dishonest? Is she an unreasonable person?

    As Maile’s dad, I’ve known her all her life. I have yet to discuss this issue with her, but I know that she’s hurt beyond words by this insinuation of dishonesty and stupidity. She won’t show it. She won’t shout or strike back. Instead, she’ll smile and try to present the facts as she sees them.

    In closing, I’d like to thank those who have come to trust Maile and continue to support her. She is worthy of your trust, respect, and aloha.

    -Jim

    Like

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