The question the State Integrity Investigation asked was “Is the executive leadership subject to criminal proceedings?”

The answer Civil Beat’s researchers found is yes, however there was a caveat.

In practice, the state didn’t get a high score for the criminal accountability of Cabinet-level officials.

Overall, Hawaii got a 79% mark for Executive Accountability, ranking it 8th. Leading the pack was New Jersey, at 88 percent. Also ahead of Hawaii were Tennessee, California, New Hampshire, Washington, West Virginia and Iowa. Connecticut tied Hawaii for 8th place.

Today we report on the second criteria that went into establishing the grade for Executive Accountability. (Click here to learn more about the methodology used for the project.)

Bottom line: This is not an area where Hawaii looks weak.

It’s now your turn to evaluate whether Civil Beat got it right and to share what you think. Share your comments at the bottom of this story.

Is the executive leadership subject to criminal proceedings?

Overall score: 87%

Here are the criteria Civil Beat used to answer that question.

1. In law, the governor can be prosecuted for crimes he/she commits.

Notes: According to Dave Koga spokesman for Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, the governor is not immune from prosecution, so he/she can be prosecuted for crimes committed. There is no law that specifically says that, Koga said. However, the governor may be removed from office by conviction of impeachment.

Sources: Hawaii State Constitution, Article III The Legislature, Section 19 Impeachment. Visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol01_Ch0001-0042F/05-Const/CONST_0003-0019.htm for details.

Score: 100%

Scoring criteria:
These are the scoring criteria for this question.
Yes: A YES score is earned if the governor can be investigated, charged, or prosecuted for criminal allegations.
No: A NO score is earned if either the governor cannot be investigated, charged, or prosecuted for criminal allegations or the executive branch controls whether investigative or prosecutorial immunity can be lifted from the governor.

2. In law, state cabinet-level officials can be prosecuted for crimes they commit.

Notes: According to Dave Koga spokesman for Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, the executive branch is not immune from prosecution, so he/she can be prosecuted for crimes committed. There is no law that specifically says that, Koga said. However, the governor and his appointees are all subject to impeachment.

Sources: Hawaii State Constitution, Article III The Legislature, Section 19 Impeachment. Visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol01_Ch0001-0042F/05-Const/CONST_0003-0019.htm for details.

Score: 100%

Scoring criteria: These are the scoring criteria for this question.
Yes: A YES score is earned if state cabinet-level officials, or their equivalents, can all be investigated, charged, or prosecuted for criminal allegations.
No: A NO score is earned if any state cabinet-level official, or equivalent official, cannot be investigated, charged, or prosecuted for criminal allegations or the executive branch controls whether investigative or prosecutorial immunity can be lifted from state cabinet-level officials.

3. In practice, the governor is prosecuted for crimes she/he commits.

Notes: According to Jean Aoki retired from the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, she doesn’t recall a governor ever being prosecuted for crimes. State Sen. Les Ihara also said he doesn’t recall any instances of a past Hawaii governor being prosecuted for crimes. Political blogger Ian Lind said the city prosecutor may investigate the governor, while the attorney general’s office may investigate the mayor’s office if allegations of crimes are made.

Sources:

• Jean Aoki, retired off-board liaison for Elections, Legislature, League of Women Voters of Hawaii, 9/20/11, telephone interview.

• Les Ihara, state senator, 9/21/11, interview at Civil Beat office.

• Ian Lind, former newspaper journalist, former legislative staffer and former executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, 9/21/11, telephone interview.

Score: 100%

Scoring criteria: These are the scoring criteria for this question.
Very Strong: When criminal allegations come to light, the governor is regularly investigated, charged, or prosecuted.
Fair: When criminal allegations come to light, the governor is investigated, charged, or prosecuted for criminal allegations, but there may be some exceptions in politically sensitive cases, or the executive branch controls whether investigative or prosecutorial immunity can be lifted from the governor.
Very Weak: When criminal allegations come to light, the governor is rarely or never investigated, charged, or prosecuted.

4. In practice, state cabinet-level officials are prosecuted for crimes they commit.

Notes: State Sen. Les Ihara said there has been resignations and scandals, but no prosecutions as far as he can recall. However, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported former United Public Workers state director Gary Rodrigues was convicted for accepting kickbacks and embezzling union funds.

Sources:

• Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Rick Daysog, 12/4/02, “Rodrigues’ acts prompt warning”

• Les Ihara, state Senator, 9/21/11, interview at Civil Beat office.

Score: 50%

Scoring criteria: These are the scoring criteria for this question.
Very Strong: When criminal allegations come to light, state cabinet-level officials are regularly investigated, charged, or prosecuted.
Fair: When criminal allegations come to light, state cabinet-level officials are investigated, charged, or prosecuted for criminal allegations, but there may be some exceptions in politically sensitive cases, or the executive branch controls whether investigative or prosecutorial immunity can be lifted from state cabinet-level officials.
Very Weak: When criminal allegations come to light, state cabinet-level officials are rarely or never investigated, charged, or prosecuted.