April 15, 2016 •
Honolulu Charter Commission Considers Amending Gift Provisions
The Honolulu Charter Commission is considering a proposal today to clarify conflict-of-interest provisions for city employees and officials. Current charter provisions prohibit employees and officials from soliciting or accepting any gift, directly or indirectly, if it can reasonably be inferred the gift is intended to influence the officer or employee in the performance of official duties. The new proposal would prohibit only those gifts intended to influence an officer or employee in the performance of official duties and benefiting the official, his or her family, or individuals or organizations with which he or she has a past, present, or future connection.
Proponents argue the proposal creates a clear standard of conduct, while opponents claim the changes would make it more difficult to enforce gift restrictions in the future. It is inherently difficult to prove the intent behind a gift or the existence of a connection with the recipient. The proposal, therefore, will likely result in individuals, namely lobbyists, avoiding penalties. Interestingly enough, several commission members are current or former lobbyists, or work for organizations employing lobbyists.
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