Two complaints have been filed with the Honolulu Ethics Commission against Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

They concern a political rally held by the mayor on Wednesday afternoon on the grass fronting Honolulu Hale, the day that Caldwell filed his re-election papers.

Tim Garry, a retired businessman who is running against Caldwell, and Carroll Cox, a government watchdog, charge that it was improper for the mayor to hold the rally on city property and to have city employees involved. Both men were at the campaign event, and Cox filmed it.

Glenna Wong, a spokesperson for Caldwell’s campaign said, “The campaign believes the complaint is without merit.”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell supporters gather fronting Honolulu Hale. 4 may 2016.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell supporters, many of them city employees, gather at Honolulu Hale on Tuesday to rally for the mayor’s re-election. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

UPDATE: Andrew Pereira, a spokesperson for the mayor, said that the employees who attended the event — which included donning Caldwell campaign T-shirts — used vacation time, while the area where the announcement was held is considered a free-speech zone.

He said, “There is no ethics violation.”

The complainants were not satisfied.

“Why not just have it at his campaign headquarters?” said Garry. “And I want to know how they can document an hour an 20 minutes of vacation time for all those employees. If vacation is part of their compensation, they actually contributed to his campaign.”

Said Cox, “When did they apply for vacation? And did the employees feel they were obligated to take vacation? The concern that I have is how far the mayor is willing to put the public interest behind his political campaign. He could have held this on a Saturday or Sunday or after house.”

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