Honolulu Administrative Department Claims Authority to Issue Ethics Advice - State and Federal Communications

December 10, 2013  •  

Honolulu Administrative Department Claims Authority to Issue Ethics Advice

Flag_of_Honolulu,Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration is currently at odds with the City Ethics Commission. Earlier in the year the Commission inquired as to whether the Department of the Corporation Counsel has the power and duty to advise city employees on matters of ethics.

In a memorandum to all municipal agencies, the Department announced it does have said authority; the Ethics Commission disagrees.

The administrative decision may potentially result in city attorneys and Ethics Commission attorneys offering conflicting advice. Also problematic, the Ethics Commission is insulated from retaliation as an autonomous agency, whereas city attorneys are afforded no such protection.

If nothing else, the memo is likely to cause public confusion as the relationship between administration and Commission deteriorates. Subpoenas may be on the horizon for Mayor Caldwell’s top executives as the Ethics Commission investigates possible corruption in city hall.

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