A bill hailed by good government advocates as a way to increase transparency and public confidence in government operations may face a veto by Hawaii’s governor.

The Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 2682, which would add 15 state boards and commissions to the list of government officials and agency members required to have their financial disclosures made public. A primary goal of the bill is to allow for the media and the public to determine whether a member might have a potential conflict of interest when business they are involved with comes before the board or commission they serve on.

In an interview with Civil Beat Wednesday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie discussed at length his admiration for the many citizens who agree to serve on Hawaii’s boards and commissions and said he’s worried that efforts to force “volunteers” to disclose information about their personal lives would keep many people from serving.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie speaks with Honolulu Civil Beat in his office at the Hawaii State Capitol, May 28, 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

That said, Abercrombie proceeded to talk about the bill and ask questions in a way that demonstrated he knew little — if anything — about the measure, despite the fact that it has been the subject of numerous news stories and editorials. One member of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents has even publicly declared he will quit if Abercrombie signs the bill.

“Did they write something just for the regents, is that what it was?” Abercrombie asked Civil Beat.

Abercrombie said he understands why it’s important to have elected officials and department heads make their finances public. He also conceded that some board members — he specifically mentioned the Public…

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