The Honolulu Ethics Commission oversees ethical issues related to city government. The purpose of the commission is to “improve and maintain public confidence in government officials and employees,” according to the commission’s website.
The commission advises city employees, officials and the public on a range of ethical issues, from conflicts of interest to the acceptance of gifts.
The commission also educates city officers and employees on how to ethically perform their duties, and administers and enforces financial disclosure requirements. Finally, it administers the city’s lobbying laws.
The Honolulu Ethics Commission was established under Chapter 3, Article 6 of the city’s revised statutes. Additionally, Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii calls for ethics commissions to be established at both the state and local levels.
The commission has several duties and responsibilities, as set forth in Chapter 3, Article 6 of the city’s revised statutes. The duties include:
- Rendering advisory opinons at the request of an officer or city employee involving conflicts of interets or unethical conduct
- The commission may investigate or hold hearings regarding an alleged violation
- Recommend to the appointing authority or the council appropriate disciplinary action resulting from a violation
- Impose civil fines
- Submit to the council and mayor any reports and recommendations it deems advisable
- The commission may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and take testimony for matter under investigation
- Educate city officers and employees on ethics laws
City charter laws regulating the commission include:
The rules and procedures for the ethics commission are detailed here.
There are five members on the city ethics commission. Currently, the members include:
- Charles W. Gall, Chair (Term Expires 12-31-14)
- Geri Marullo, Vice Chair (Term Expires 12-31-11)
- Rachael Wong, Commissioner (Term Expires 12-31-13)
- Stephen Silva, Commissioner (Term Expires 12-31-11)
- Jeffrey Burroughs, Commissioner (Term Expires 12-31-14)
The executive director of the commission, Charles Totto, is a licensed attorney and advises the commission as legal counsel.
The impact of the commission is rooted primarily in its advisory opinions, which guide city employees and officials on the interpretation of ethics laws. The commission’s ability to investigate conflicts and issue civil fines is a powerful tool.
The commission also maintains public financial disclosures for city officials. These are important for reasons of transparency, detailing the financial ties and income sources of city leaders. Lobbyists disclosures, too, are maintained by the commission and are equally important for open government.
Standard Financial Plaza
715 South King Street,
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 768-7786
Fax: (808) 768-1283