UPDATED 11/23/11 10 a.m.
A $3,000 oil painting. An $800 ukulele. A $500 model of the Hawaii Superferry. A $325 Hermes scarf.
Those are just some of the gifts that turn up in disclosure forms filed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2011 (the painting and uke went to him) and former Gov. Linda Lingle during her eight years in office (the model and scarf went to her).
Abercrombie has only been in office seven months, so his list is shorter than Lingle’s. Hers includes things like a bronze bust of Laura Bush and another of Ronald Reagan, well-known Republicans like Lingle.
But, unlike Abercrombie, Lingle also accepted gifts from major companies doing major business in the state, including Matson Navigation, Norwegian Cruise Line, Walt Disney and Hawaii Superferry.
Les Kondo, executive director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, declined to comment specifically on whether either governor’s filings raised any questions.
Rules on gifts to public officials are spelled out in Hawaii Revised Statues 84 covering Standards of Conduct.
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission, in its Guidelines for Gifts Under the State Ethics Code, explains that the law is intended to prohibit a government employee from accepting “any gift if it is reasonable to infer the gift is intended to influence or reward official action.”
To determine that, the commission considers the value or cost of the gift, the relationship between the donor and the recipient and whether the gift provides any “state benefit” — including whether the gift “will benefit the recipient in the performance of his or her official duties.”
The determination is up to the commission, according to the guidelines:
A legislator or employee who receives a gift sometimes may contend that the gift will not actually influence him or her. This, however, is not a factor in determining whether or not a gift may be accepted under the law. The gifts law is based on perception: Does it appear to a reasonable person that the gift is intended to influence or reward official action? If the answer is yes, then the gift is prohibited.
Topping Abercrombie’s gift disclosure filing from inauguration day to June 1 is an oil painting from Hiroshi Tagami valued at $3,000. Tagami is a business partner with Michael Powell; the two are established local artists.
Neither returned a call asking why they gave him the painting.
Abercrombie also reported receiving two other paintings, including a $350 framed picture from Bishop Museum, an $800 ukulele, two tickets to a MAO Farms fundraiser (where First Lady Michelle Obama visited during APEC) and three items (including a scepter) from the governor of American Samoa.
Jim Boersema, Abercrombie’s communications director, said the fundraiser tickets were not used, while the paintings are hanging in the governor’s office and hallway.
Besides those bronze busts, each valued at $300 and both the gift of an Edgardo Vasquez (or Edward Vazquez; it seems to be the same person, misspelled), some of Lingle’s gifts during her eight years as governor came from companies doing business with the state.
They include the largest shipper, Matson Navigation; the only U.S.-flagged cruise line in Hawaii waters, NCL; the parent company of Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa; deep sea water-bottling company, Koyo USA; and the now defunct Hawaii Superferry.
Here are those gifts and others and a link to the relevant filing:
• A $300 framed photo of NCL’s “Pride of Aloha” from CEO Robert Kritzman; a $250 koa frame with photo from Jim Andrasick, chairman of Matson Navigation; and gifts from Sony Corporation, China Airlines and Koyo USA. June 1, 2003, to June 1, 2007
• A $325 Hermes scarf from Ronald Howard, president of Star of Honolulu, a cruise business; a $500 model of the Hawaii Superferry from company chair John Lehman1; and a $1,000 “It’s a Small World” Hula Girl from Jay Rasulo, chair of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. June 1, 2007, to June 1, 2008
Gifts to Lingle also include the following:
• Two books on paniolo and a framed picture of Parker Ranch (total value: $400) from Dale Madden, owner of the Madden Group, which owns Island Heritage, a Hawaiian distributor that has done business in China. June 1, 2008, to June 1, 2009
• Airfare and/or hotel accommodations from political action committees for Charles Djou and James “Duke” Aiona, the Republican Jewish Coalition Conference, the Milken Institute Global Conference and the Republican Governors Association. June 1, 2009, to June 1, 2010
• A Hermes card case, Godiva cookies and a pen set (total value: $360) from Roy Ho, executive director of Na Lei Aloha Foundation; and $325 in Notre Dame football tickets when the school played the University of Hawaii in 2009. July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010
Other gifts to Lingle over the years include Japanese embroidery ($700), a samurai helmet ($500), a pearl necklace ($200) and a porcelain vase ($75).
Lenny Klompus, Lingle’s communications director when she was governor who is now working on her U.S. Senate campaign, said the gifts did not influence Lingle’s decision-making.
Klompus said nearly all the gifts were given away. With the help of staff, the governor identified appropriate organizations — for example, giving the vase to the Chinese Cultural Center.
Lingle did keep two items that meant a lot to her, however: coins commemorating the 50th anniversary of statehood and commemorative stamps from a trip to the Philippines.
She also inherited gifts from the previous administration, which were turned over to the state archives.