Charitable Entities: HIPA, Red Cross... Labor Unions?


There are some things that appear to be untouchable in the Hawaii Legislature.

One apparently is the idea that lawmakers and state employees should be able to have a free lunch. Dinner, actually.

A Senate committee first tried gutting an ethics reform bill, turning it on its head to make it easier for lawmakers to receive gifts, including tickets to nonprofit dinners.

That bill was eviscerated, but one idea wouldn't die.

On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on an amended bill that would permit lawmakers and state employees to accept free tickets for charitable events from a "charitable entity."

At least one open government group, Common Cause Hawaii, says the bill has "serious issues".

"The new SD 1 allows legislators and employees to accept invitations and tickets for charitable events from a 'charitable entity,' whether or not that entity is the host of the event," Common Cause Hawaii's Executive Director Nikki Love told Civil Beat in an e-mail. "The new bill defines 'charitable entity' to include a wide range of IRS categorizations, 501(c)(3) through 501(c)(6). This includes much more than what is normally considered a 'charitable' organization - for example, these categories include chambers of commerce and labor unions."

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