The Honolulu Ethics Commission has rescinded its restrictive news media policy, and adopted a new version that allows its executive director to speak to the press without needing permission and to comment on the potential impact of advisory opinions.

The commission adopted its first media policy in June, which blocked its executive director, Chuck Totto, from sharing concerns about the commission and commenting on advisory opinions.

Ethics Commission.  Legal Counsel Charles Totto.  23 july 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Chuck Totto at Thursday’s Honolulu Ethics Committee meeting.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The June news media policy passed after a city attorney criticized Totto for saying that ethics violations by two former City Council members could nullify their votes on the Honolulu rail project.

The new version adopted Thursday still bars the commission’s staff from interpreting formal advisory opinions and findings in news releases, but allows the staff to comment on hypothetical situations that the opinions might impact.

The latest news media policy was drafted by Vice Chair Michael Lilly. The commission adopted the draft after deleting paragraphs 4 and 7.

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