New Hawaii law makes official misconduct a felony
by Kim Jarrett, The Center Square, June 24, 2023
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green signed a bill Friday that creates the crime of official misconduct and makes it a Class C felony.
The punishment for a Class C felony is a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years in prison.
The change comes after two former lawmakers were sentenced to federal prison for their roles in what prosecutors called a bribery scheme.
Former Hawaii Senate majority leader Jamie Kalani English was sentenced to 40 months, and former Rep. Ty Cullen received a 24-month sentence.
"I firmly believe in holding elected officials to the highest standards of ethical conduct, beginning with the time they are running for office," Green said. "Campaign spending and disclosure requirements are crucial for a transparent electoral process. Candid, honest disclosure of all candidates' funding sources for advertising and other campaign activities can help to inform voters and rebuild public trust in the process."
Green also signed a bill that bans lobbyists from giving gifts to any candidate or official during the legislative session. A second bill would increase fines against non-candidate committees that violate organizational report rules and advertising disclosure requirements.
Sen. Senator Les Ihara, majority policy leader, said he has tried to get political reform bills passed in previous years.
"But this year many have caught a huge wave of public sentiment caused by the unfortunate corrupt actions of colleagues," Ihara said. "I appreciate the hard work of both judiciary committee chairs. Let's keep building a wave large enough to address the issue of money in politics and core public ethics issues."