Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell isn’t the only candidate who would have to give up his side gig if a bill that cleared the state Senate Thursday becomes law.

House Bill 361 would ban outside employment by county mayors and the governor, and that would affect candidates running for office this year and going forward. House Speaker Scott Saiki introduced the measure, but it stalled last year.

The Senate voted nearly unanimously to pass HB 361; Sens. Russell Ruderman, Donovan Dela Cruz and Lorraine Inouye voted with reservations. The bill now heads back to the House for consideration.

If the House agrees with the Senate’s version of the bill, HB 361 could go straight to Gov. David Ige for either approval or veto.

If it becomes law, victors in the mayoral and gubernatorial races would need to give up their side jobs in 2022.

Wide view of the Senate floor. Legislature Crossover 2020
The Senate voted Thursday to ban county mayors and the governor from holding outside employment while they are still in office. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

“The rational is that serving as governor or mayor, that is a full time job,” Saiki said at a Civil Beat panel Wednesday. “You should be focused entirely on that position and not have a side job.”

Saiki tried unsuccessfully for at least three years to get the bill passed. At the time he introduced it, Caldwell’s job at Territorial Savings Bank, which this year netted him more than $150,000, was under much scrutiny.

But Saiki insists that he wrote the bill after concerns were raised over President Donald Trump violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits a president from receiving outside sources of income.

“I looked at our state laws to see any prohibition on emoluments,” Saiki said. “State law was not very clear with respect to the governor and was not clear at all with respect to mayors.”

The Mayors’ Races

Although a Senate committee changed the bill to take effect Nov. 1, 2022, it would still affect the winners of the mayoral races on Oahu and the Big Island.

Keith Amemiya, a vice president at Island Holdings, would need to give up that job by 2022 if elected. His campaign did not respond to messages Thursday afternoon.

Speaker of the House Scott Saiki speaks about preparations in the budget for Coronavirus.
House Speaker Scott Saiki says he introduced HB 361 in response to President Donald Trump, but the bill would affect several candidates in the 2020 and 2022 elections. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine would also need to give up consulting work that made her less than $10,000 in 2019, according to her financial disclosures. Pine’s campaign also did not respond to several phone calls.

Choon James, a real estate broker, said she would give up her business, which she’s had for 30 years, if she was elected mayor.

“I firmly believe any person holding public office must not give any kind of wrong impression to the public,” James said.

Tante Urban, a candidate for Hawaii County mayor and a restaurant owner, agreed. If he wins, Urban said he has enough workers to make sure his restaurant on Maui stays open. His wife already flies back and forth between Maui and the Big Island to help.

“You should be focused on your position as mayor,” Urban said.

Contact Key Lawmakers

The bill would still allow the governor and mayors to collect retirement and rental income. It also wouldn’t affect investment income.

One of Urban’s opponents, Bob Fitzgerald, is a sales manager at the Hilton Grand Vacations in Waikoloa, according to his campaign website.

The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to expand the ban to any mayor or governor who holds interest in a business. They would have 60 days from the election to either liquidate or put the interest in a blind trust.

The Governor’s Race

While it’s still two years off, the race for Hawaii’s next governor has already begun.

Caldwell and Lt. Gov. Josh Green have already started fundraising and both have outside jobs that bring in a lot of money for them.

Caldwell reported $155,638 in earnings as a bank director and from stock options with Territorial Savings, according to his financial disclosure filed earlier this year.

But it’s Green who may lose even more. Green earns anywhere between $275,000 and $450,000 from three outside jobs he holds, according to his most recently filed financial disclosures.

Green earned between $150,000 and $250,000 as medical director of the Hawaii Independent Physicians Association; between $100,000 and $150,000 as an emergency room physician with Watkins Medical Group; and between $25,000 and $50,000 doing consulting work for Green Health International LLC.

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