HONOLULU (KHON2) — Eroding public trust in government. That’s what the state Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct is trying to crack down on.

“People are losing confidence in their government in Hawaii and on the national level,” said Barbara Marumoto, member of the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct.

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Last week, former State Sen. Kalani English was sentenced to over three years in federal prison for his part in a bribery scheme. Former State Rep. Ty Cullen is expected to be sentenced in October. Meanwhile, former Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro awaits trial.

“You can’t deter violent crime, but you can deter white collar crime including political corruption,” said Steve Alm, Honolulu prosecuting attorney.

Wednesday, county prosecutors asked the commission to seek tougher penalties for public officials.

“What it might take for us to do these cases together successfully is to guarantee prison time on all of the charges. Then they’ll cooperate against someone else. Now people are optimist, they think even if I get caught I’m not going to go to prison,” Alm said.

Prosecuting attorneys for Kauai and Maui County and the commission agree.

“No probation, no deferral, even if it’s their first time, because these white collar criminals are always almost first time offenders,” said Florence Nanakuni, member of the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct. “They should also pay a significant fine and disgorge their ill gotten gains.”

Officials said there are limitations when it comes to state laws in prosecuting public corruption cases.

“It’s a little easier with our federal grand jury and the subpoena power versus search warrants, because it gives us a little more ease to move things along that our partners might not be able to do,” said Jeff, a FBI supervisory agent.

The attorney general’s office is drafting bills ahead of the 2023 legislative session aimed to hammer down on public corruption. Ideas to mirror federal laws are being considered. The attorney general’s office also has a new department to investigative white collar crime.

The commission has until the end of the year to come up with recommendations too.

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“All public servants need to be held to a higher standard,” said Andrew Martin, Maui County prosecuting attorney. “That servant part, that service to our community, to the taxpayers can never be forgotten or brushed aside.”