When Hawaii Reps Ask, Say Says ‘No Conflict’

·By Michael Levine

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

House leadership waives conflict concerns in 92 percent of cases, Civil Beat investigation finds.


Should the Hawaii Legislature revamp the way it evaluates conflicts of interest? Join the conversation.

1. Methodology: Civil Beat opened 51 PDF files, each representing one day's "rough draft" House Journal. As of this writing, the verbatim transcripts of action for the year's final nine floor sessions hadn't been posted to the Capitol website. The Rough Draft Journal is described as including "verbatim floor remarks, written remarks, announcements and introductions made on the Chamber Floor." Civil Beat performed a text search for the word "conflict," then produced a spreadsheet of all 105 times a lawmaker stood up to disclose a conflict or seek a ruling on a potential conflict.

2. Asked to clarify which section of the Hawaii Constitution instructs members to vote, Say provided the following statement via an email from a House spokeswoman:

By the statement, I meant that a legislator is entitled to vote on every issue and that the intent of the Constitution is for a legislator to vote on every issue.

This intent is implied because a legislator is elected to represent the people of the legislator's district, and "representation" is effectuated by voting on the issues.

Nowhere in the Constitution is the right to vote restricted. Indeed, no legislator can be held to answer before any other tribunal in exercising this right to vote (Article III, Section 7)

Our House rules reinforce this concept by requiring a legislator to vote unless excused upon the legislator's request pursuant to our rules. (See House Rules 52.4 and 60.6)

(Emphasis his)

3. In her 2011 financial disclosure form [pdf], Pine said she earned between $10,000 and $25,000 last year working for the United States Veterans Initiative. She's worked in that position since at least 2008.

4. In his 2011 financial disclosure form [pdf], Oshiro changed the amount of money he earned from his job at the firm from between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2009 to between $25,000 and $50,000 in 2010.