HONOLULU (KHON2) — No more gifts. That’s the goal of the Honolulu Ethics Commission, which is pushing for a bill in the Honolulu City Council outlawing gifts to the mayor, prosecutor, city council or any city employee.
The details are thorough in Bill 26. Almost any gift over $25 to City officials or employees are a no-no if the bill is passed as written.
“Quid pro quo is something that you don’t even see in big city corruption. Boston and New Orleans — places that are famous for it. And we have it here. Something has to be done. I think this is a good first step,” political analyst John Hart said.
Money, goods, services, loans, travel, hospitality, things of value, favor, gratuity, commission or promises are some of the things that wouldn’t be allowed if over $25.
“$25 sounds a little low. On the other hand, we have to do something the public is fed up. It’s rampant. It’s blatant,” Hart added.
The gifts can’t come from prohibited sources — which the bill classifies as lobbyists, vendors, contractors, clients, political committees, tenants, concessionaires or when gifts are to influence the performance of the official.
The state legislature saw some of the same this year when former senator Kalani English and representative Ty Cullen pled guilty to accepting bribes.
Hart would like to see something similar to the city council’s bill in the state legislature.
“The state legislature didn’t do a lot and that would be putting it generously,” he said.
Hart pointed out that a problem with keeping corruption out of politics is the US Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling allowing corporate and outside groups to spend unlimited money on elections. He believes influence will still be there even if this passes.
“You’re asking the politicians to codify against Citizens United when they’re the ones that benefit from the money,” he said.
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The ethics commission requested Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters introduce the bill. It’s set for its second reading on Wednesday at the council’s 10:00 a.m. meeting.