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Sunday, December 7, 2014
Ethics Commission Fines Non-Profit for Illegal Lobbying
By News Release @ 3:28 AM :: 4180 Views :: Ethics

Resolution of Investigation 2014-2

Lobbying Activities by Organization’s Employees

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission November 19, 2014 (excerpt)

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) received a complaint that a nonprofit organization (the “Organization”) was lobbying at the State legislature,1 but had not filed lobbying expenditures and contributions reports with the Commission as required by the Lobbyists Law, chapter 97, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”). During its investigation, the Commission obtained information indicating that the Organization’s Chief Executive Officer (“John Doe”) and another Organization employee (“Jane Doe”) had lobbied on behalf of the Organization during the 2013 to 2014 legislative biennium and that Jane Doe had also lobbied on behalf of the Organization during the 2011 to 2012 legislative biennium. The Commission’s lobbying records revealed that John Doe and Jane Doe were not registered as lobbyists; that neither John Doe nor Jane Doe had filed lobbying expenditures and contributions reports for the years in which they had lobbied; and that the Organization had not filed lobbying expenditures and contributions reports during those same periods.

The Commission, John Doe, Jane Doe, and the Organization agreed to a resolution of this matter, which included the issuance of this public statement and the payment of administrative penalties to the State of Hawaii....

RESOLUTION OF INVESTIGATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTIES

John Doe and Jane Doe fully cooperated with the Commission during the investigation, and both subsequently filed lobbyist registrations and lobbying reports for the periods identified above. The Organization also subsequently filed expenditures and contributions reports for the seven periods in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Based on its investigation, the Commission believed it was likely that John Doe, Jane Doe, and the Organization violated the Lobbyists Law by failing to file the required registrations and reports as described above. John Doe stated that his failure, Jane Doe’s failure, and the Organization’s failure to comply with the Lobbyists Law was not willful and was the result of a misunderstanding of the law. Although the Commission understood this position, it emphasized that this case underscored the importance and necessity of seeking clarification or advice from the Commission’s staff regarding the Lobbyists Law or the State Ethics Code. The Commission further believed that, as a result of this investigation, John Doe, Jane Doe, and the Organization now understand the Lobbyists Law’s requirements and will be diligent in complying with those requirements in the future.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, the Commission believed it was fair and in the public interest to resolve its investigation of this matter by the issuance of this public document and payment of administrative fines to the State’s general fund in the following amounts: $2,000 by the Organization; $1,000 by John Doe; and $2,000 by Jane Doe. The Commission is issuing this public statement regarding the resolution of this investigation to provide the public with information about the requirements of the Lobbyists Law.

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