Legislator’s Acceptance of Improper Gifts
Resolution of Charge 2016-5
From Hawaii State Ethics Commission September 2, 2016 (excerpts)
The Commission issued the Charge after its investigation of Respondent Shimabukuro for allegedly accepting improper gifts from Alston Hunt Floyd and Ing (“AHFI”), a law firm that employs or otherwise retains registered lobbyists to lobby on behalf of the law firm and its clients. AHFI and its lobbyists regularly file lobbying expenditures and contributions reports with the Commission….
(Really Obvious Question: How will AHFI be punished for offering this ‘improper gift’?)
Prior to February 20, 2016, one of AHFI’s registered lobbyists contacted Respondent and invited her to participate in and attend an AHFI employee retreat. Respondent was asked to conduct a bus tour of the Waianae coast for AHFI attorneys and/or employees. The retreat was held on February 20, 2016; Respondent participated by providing narration and commentary on a bus tour of the Waianae coast….
Following the bus tour, AHFI hosted a luau at Paradise Cove at the Ko Olina Resort as part of the employee retreat. The cost of the luau was $80 per adult and $60 per child. Adults who attended the luau received a gift card worth $16; children received one worth $12. The gift cards were included in the price of the luau. Respondent, her significant other and three children attended as guests of AHFI. Each received gift cards which they used to purchase items from a gift shop at Paradise Cove….
After the luau, attendees stayed overnight at the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa (“Aulani”). Respondent, Respondent’s significant other, and three children stayed overnight in a room at the Aulani as guests of AHFI. AHFI paid for the overnight stay at a cost of approximately $399….
Respondent Shimabukuro appeared to have violated HRS section 84-11 by accepting gifts of significant value from AHFI, a lobbying organization. Specifically, the Charge alleged that Respondent violated HRS section 84-11 by:
1. Soliciting, accepting and/or receiving admission to the luau (which included, food entertainment, and gift cards) for Respondent, Respondent’s significant other, and three children; and
2. Soliciting, accepting, and/or receiving an overnight stay at the Aulani for Respondent, Respondent’s significant other, and three children.
The total value of these gifts was approximately $739.
Assuming the alleged facts to be true, the Commission believed that one could reasonably infer that the gifts were intended to influence Respondent in the performance of her official duties, or were intended as a reward for official action on Respondent’s part. Consequently, the Commission believed that Respondent’s acceptance of these gifts likely violated the State Ethics Code….
The Commission believed it was reasonable, fair and in the public interest to resolve the Charge by issuing this Resolution of Charge and by Respondent Shimabukuro’s payment of the value of the gifts ($739) as an administrative penalty to the State of Hawaii.
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HNN: State lawmaker pays fine to resolve ethics investigation