As an elected official, Rep. Karen Awana knows the rules. Why she’s choosing not to play by them is another question.

She just started her fourth term in the House, so she can’t claim ignorance to state campaign finance laws.

Awana has $15,000 in her campaign account, so she can afford the $6,800 in fines she owes.

It’s a waste of the public’s tax dollars to leave the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission no choice but to take her to court to enforce its order.

Awana didn’t even contest the violations that have piled up since 2008 for filing false reports and failing to keep records.

So why doesn’t she just write the state a check and be done with it? The commission is at a loss and so are we, particularly since she hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.

As someone who approves the state budget, Awana knows there’s a limited amount of money to fund a seemingly infinite number of needs. It shouldn’t have to be spent on errant lawmakers; the court and commission have better things to do.

But what happens? She gets promoted to majority floor leader, so maybe we’re missing something.

It seems reasonable to require lawmakers to follow the law. Instead, the signal being sent is you can write the laws but don’t have to follow them. And what’s more, you can rise in the ranks despite outstanding fines.

The public should ask new House Speaker Joe Souki and all the reps who voted in favor of his new leadership team why this is OK.