A group of senators charged with investigating Sen. Brickwood Galuteria plans to recommend that he be allowed to keep his seat despite a complaint alleging he doesn’t actually live in his district of Kakaako and committed tax fraud.

Galuteria maintains that he lives in an apartment in Kakaako with his wife and mother. But he acknowledged earlier this session that he wrongly claimed a $80,000 homeowners tax exemption on rental property in Palolo Valley for several years. The City and County of Honolulu calculated he owes more than $7,200 in taxes and fees.

A day later, Hawaii Kai resident Richard Baker submitted a complaint to Senate President Donna Mercado Kim alleging that Galuteria isn’t qualified to serve because he doesn’t meet the residency requirements and lied on his taxes.

Chair Gil Keith Agaran in a meeting about  Senator Brickwood Galuteria’s residency. 27 april 2015. photograph by Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran speaks at a hearing about Sen. Brickwood Galuteria’s residency.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

But a special Senate committee made up of Sens. Gil Kahele, Sam Slom, Jill Tokuda, Ronald Kouchi and led by Gil Keith-Agaran decided Thursday that the evidence isn’t strong enough for Galuteria to lose his seat.

“It still appears that Sen Galuteria is qualified to sit at his seat,” Keith-Agaran said. “It appears that he remains a qualified voter and was duly elected.”

Keith-Agaran said he plans to write a letter and submit it to Kim next week expressing the committee’s stance. He’ll also ask if the special committee can remain open until May 26, when the city Elections Office Board of Registration is expected to decide on an appeal, also from Baker, challenging Acting City Clerk Glen Takahashi’s ruling that Galuteria meets residency requirements.

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