Les Kondo was executive director and the chief legal counsel of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission and stepped down from that position in 2016 to become state auditor. He was preceded by Jan Yamane, and was succeeded by Daniel Gluck.
The five ethics commissioners unanimously appointed Kondo in January 2011. The commission administers and enforces Hawaii’s ethics code, which applies to all state employees and officials, excluding justices and judges, according to the organization’s website. The ethics law setting standards of conduct for state officials is defined in Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 84. Standards of conduct for lobbyists are defined in Chapter 97. The commission’s website also includes a user-friendly version of the ethics guide.
Civil Beat reported on several controversial opinions from Kondo and his staff during his first few months in office. For example, Kondo wrote that lawmakers should not be allowed to accept free tickets to a fundraising dinner.
Another controversial opinion stated that members of legislative task forces should be considered state employees — and subject to the ethics code, barring them from lobbying on issues related to their task force work. In 2015, Kondo again came under fire from the House Speaker, Joe Souki, who was publicly critical of him as the commission was deciding whether to retain Kondo as executive director.
Kondo previously served as a member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commissionwhich regulates public utilities. He was formerly director of the Office of Information Practices, which is responsible for administering, Hawaii’s Sunshine Law and public records law by providing assistance and legal guidance in the application of the laws. He was also a litigation attorney in private practice and is a past member of the national Council on Governmental Ethics Laws. Kondo is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, and served as a law clerk to former Hawaii Chief Justice Herman T. F. Lum. He obtained an engineering degree from Northwestern University. He was born in Hilo, but grew up overseas because his father worked for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.