How Independent is Honolulu's Ethics Commission?

UPDATED 12:45 p.m. 12/28/2010

Two of seven members on the Honolulu Ethics Commission will see their terms expire Dec. 31 and Mayor Peter Carlisle will name their successors.

Carlisle and his peers on the neighbor islands are in a unique position. They may be the only mayors in America with sole discretion to nominate the ethics commission that regulates their performance in office. By the time Carlisle's first term expires in 2012, he will have handpicked the majority of the commission.1

And while it's true that his appointments must be approved by the City Council, no nominee appears to have been rejected in decades.

"It's a conflict of interest," said Sen. Les Ihara, who represents portions of Palolo, Kaimuki and West Diamond Head. "In my opinion, they should not be involved in the process of selecting the people who will regulate them... No council member that I know of has gone out on a limb saying a nominee should not be approved. I don't think that's much of a check at all."

  1. The original version of this article incorrectly reported that Mayor Carlisle will be able to appoint the entire ethics commission by the end of his first term. He will be able to appoint four of seven members.  

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