The Sunshine Blog: Roasting Ige And What One Committee Takes Away, Another Puts Back - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, observations and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Gone but not forgotten: Former Hawaii Gov. David Ige may be out of office but that’s not keeping Hawaii island journalists from skewering him for his actions against the public’s right to know.

On Thursday the Big Island Press Club gave its Lava Tube Dishonor to Ige for last year’s veto of two public records bills that the Legislature had easily passed.

One measure, the club’s press release explained, would have capped fees for access to public records while the other would have required electronic audio or video recordings of public board meetings be maintained as a public record and posted.

  • A Special Commentary Project

Ige based his veto on the advice of his ill-informed department heads that “agencies may be forced to prioritize responding to records requests over the agencies’ primary functions.”

In 2020 the club dishonored Ige for imposing what Civil Beat called “one of the most extreme anti-transparency measures executed in the U.S.” He suspended Chapter 92F, the Uniform Information Practices Act, in a supplementary proclamation issued during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Again, the former governor just doesn’t get it,” longtime journalist and press club secretary Nancy Cook Lauer said in this year’s press release. “Responding to public records requests doesn’t take away from a government employee’s job. It is, in fact, part of the job.”

Ige’s gone, but similar public records bills — House Bill 719 and House Bill 712 — are again moving at the Legislature. And Gov. John Green seems inclined to sign them. It’s like he “gets it.”

Then-Gov. David Ige met with the Civil Beat Editorial Board and various reporters at our office in August 2022. We failed to persuade him to allow the public records and video archive bills to become law. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2022)

Gone, but not forgotten Part 2: Last month, the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee stripped out provisions in a couple of bills that would have banned people convicted of public corruption from holding elected office for 10 years.

Committee Chair Rep. David Tarnas declared the bills as written unconstitutional, “according to discussions with our attorneys.” He changed the provision to prohibit the scofflaws from being allowed to receive public financing for their campaigns for 10 years before passing them along.

As noted previously in this blog, House Bill 707 and House Bill 711, were drafted by the special Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, whose members were mostly former judges and attorneys.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office also had no problem with the measures, and submitted written testimony in support of both of them. 

The Legislature’s judiciary chairs, Rep. David Tarnas, left, and Sen. Karl Rhoads, took different stands on fraud legislation. (Screenshot/2023)

So when the bills reached the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, guess what got put back in? Yep. Chair Karl Rhoads re-amended them to restore the ban on holding office.

“I understand there are some questions,” said Rhoads, adding, “we’ll check on the constitutionality.”

Both measures were approved and will now be considered by the full Senate. But either way they are destined for conference committee where an attempt will be made to resolve the differences.

Hopefully, by that time in late April, someone will have gotten a more official opinion on the constitutional question.

HB 707 makes it a class C felony to make false, fictitious or fraudulent claims against the state or a county, while HB 711 establishes the offense of fraud as a class B felony.

A related measure, House Bill 710, establishes the class C felony offense of using or making false statements or entries in matters within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the state or any county. It is scheduled for a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Government Operations on Tuesday. 

Read this next:

The Sunshine Blog: Reform Momentum Continues, Reining In Pay To Play, Gifts That Keep On Giving

Local reporting when you need it most

Support timely, accurate, independent journalism.

Honolulu Civil Beat is a nonprofit organization, and your donation helps us produce local reporting that serves all of Hawaii.


About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

Ige’s gone, but similar public records bills — House Bill 719 and House Bill 712 — are again moving at the Legislature. And Gov. John Green seems inclined to sign them. It’s like he "gets it." We shall see. Many departments still have concern about HB719, including DOE, DAGS, DHS, DCCA, DLNR, Budget & Finance and the ERS. It's also interesting that Green seems to have designated his AG to follow up on the concerns about public records since many of the departments' concerns and logistical/operational and not legal. If they determine - like federal agencies responding to FOIA - that they can respond and take as long as they want, I'm curious how Brian Black and others would respond to this. Curious to see if this will be the determination of the AG, essentially saying "Yes, waive fees" but now the law allows you to take longer since staff time is no longer being specifically compensated.

justaguy · 6 months ago

"Gatekeeper Tarnas is taking heat from some advocates and commentary writers over single-handedly stopping one bill in particular, House Bill 796""David is intelligent, unafraid and has a good head on his shoulders" Scott Sakai (career politician)"The unilateral power of the chair to kill bills without holding a public vote is a key ingredient in the formula for corruption at the Hawaii Legislature" Gary HooserLet the sunshine in.........

Joseppi · 6 months ago

Thank Goodness Ige is gone and hopefully soon forgotten. What a nightmare. No transparency. And let's take a look at taking 100% of pensions away from anyone convicted of a serious ethical crime. Wish that they would just pass all of the recommendations from the Foley Commission.

Concernedtaxpayer · 6 months ago

Join the conversation


IDEAS is the place you'll find essays, analysis and opinion on every aspect of life and public affairs in Hawaii. We want to showcase smart ideas about the future of Hawaii, from the state's sharpest thinkers, to stretch our collective thinking about a problem or an issue. Email to submit an idea.


You're officially signed up for our daily newsletter, the Morning Beat. A confirmation email will arrive shortly.

In the meantime, we have other newsletters that you might enjoy. Check the boxes for emails you'd like to receive.

  • What's this? Be the first to hear about important news stories with these occasional emails.
  • What's this? You'll hear from us whenever Civil Beat publishes a major project or investigation.
  • What's this? Get our latest environmental news on a monthly basis, including updates on Nathan Eagle's 'Hawaii 2040' series.
  • What's this? Get occasional emails highlighting essays, analysis and opinion from IDEAS, Civil Beat's commentary section.

Inbox overcrowded? Don't worry, you can unsubscribe
or update your preferences at any time.