When Hawaii Reps Ask, Say Says 'No Conflict'
Editor's note: This is part of a Civil Beat series exploring conflicts of interest in the Hawaii Legislature. Read the related stories.
Hawaii lawmakers stand up and say there may be a problem.
They're not sure if they should vote — one has a grandson at the Medical School, another's law firm is handling a related case, a third has a Peruvian wife.
"No conflict," Speaker Calvin Say tells them.
Again and again this session, the message from Say to his members was: No problem.
Civil Beat analyzed all 105 times a representative stood up on the floor of the Hawaii House of Representatives to ask for a ruling on a possible conflict of interest through the 2011 session's first 51 days.1
Ninety-seven times they were met with a "no conflict" ruling from either Say or Vice Speaker Joey Manahan, who presides over the chamber when Say cannot.
Say found a conflict only in the most obvious examples: seven cases involving a lawmaker who had already been appointed to the quasi-judicial Public Utilities Commission and an eighth where an attorney specifically asked to be excused from voting because his partner lobbied the bill in question.