A special Senate committee has adopted rules to govern its investigation into whether Sen. Brickwood Galuteria is qualified to serve in the Senate.
The committee met briefly Thursday morning and plans to hold another hearing on Monday at 10 a.m. in response to a complaint alleging that Galuteria doesn’t actually live in Kakaako, the district he represents.
Hawaii Kai resident Richard Baker filed a complaint against Galuteria on Feb. 3 with Senate President Donna Mercado Kim after Galuteria acknowledged he had improperly claimed a $80,000 homeowner tax exemption for his rental property in Palolo for several years.
Richard Baker, center, speaks to Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran after Thursday’s hearing as Sen. Jill Tokuda listens.
According to the rules adopted Thursday, the Senate doesn’t need to hold a public hearing and can make a recommendation to Kim based on available documents and its own investigation. No deadline was set for the panel to make a decision.
Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Last fall, Baker submitted a similar residency complaint to the City Elections Office, which concluded in January that Galuteria has lived in Kakaako since 2011. Baker, who helped campaign for Galuteria’s opponent in the 2014 election, has also unsuccessfully challenged Galuteria before the State Ethics Commission by claiming the senator had a conflict of interest when advocating for legislation that would have allowed the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to develop Kakaako Makai.
On March 27, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim appointed the special Senate committee to look into Baker’s allegations. Sen. Keith Agaran is chairing the committee that includes Sens. Jill Tokuda, Gil Kahele, Ronald Kouchi and Sam Slom. Only Keith Agaran, Tokuda and Slom attended Thursday’s hearing.
Earlier this session, the House created its own special committee to consider a residency challenge against Rep. Calvin Say, who represents Palolo. After a public hearing that allowed both sides to air their arguments, the committee determined Say met the residency requirements.