Former State Ethics Commission director Dan Mollway suggested it would be interesting to check out what the county ethics commissions are up to. So I decided to take an initial look at what information is readily available. On this first pass, it looks like all the counties are weak in regulating lobbyists, but the State Ethics Commission has had similar problems in that area. I’ll have to circle around at another time to look at recent actions and decisions at the county level.
The Kauai County website makes it easy to find the Board of Ethics page, which includes a list of the county charter provisions (but not links to them), as well as board agendas and minutes. The most recent minutes are for the boards October 12 meeting, so they are up to date.
But I don’t see anything relating to registration and regulation of lobbyists.
And I don’t see anything about lobbyists in a very quick check of the county charter (so I could be missing something).
The problem here is that the State Constitution requires each county to have an ethics code that includes several provisions, including lobbyist registration.
Each code of ethics shall include, but not be limited to, provisions on gifts, confidential information, use of position, contracts with government agencies, post-employment, financial disclosure and lobbyist registration and restriction.
Does the county have lobbyist registration rules tucked away in some other part of county government? Anybody on Kauai want to comment?
Search for the Board of Ethics on the Hawaii County website and you get to a spartan display of three folders containing public documents–agendas, minutes, documents.
The documents folder contains the Code of Ethics, a good first stop. The Hawaii County Code does require lobbyist registration and disclosure, although I don’t see any of those documents posted online.
When I searched for the word “lobbyist,” the system returned links to several sets of minutes as well as the ethics code.
Back in 2005, I see that attorney David Frankel appeared at a Board of Ethics meeting to complain that the lobbyist registration law was not being enforced.
My real concern is that there’s been really no implementation or enforcement of the lobbying law. When I went to the County Clerk’ s office in August, excuse me, in September, to see who was registered, I was shocked to see really, no one’s been registering. Well, one or two people a year, and the people who are at the Council lobbying all the time for those of us who’ve sat there, see at the Council on a regular basis, have not registered.
It looks like a follow-up is in order to see whether things have changed much at all since 2005.
The Honolulu Ethics Commission website provides a number of links.
I clicked on “meeting information,” and got a list of links to minutes that did not display properly, making it difficult to use. It did not provide a list of previous agendas.
There is a listing of prior advisory opinions, and a subject index, which is very useful. Several recent opinions show the commission has done extensive investigations of cases, resulting in detailed public findings and penalties.
A link to “lobbyist information” leads to an annually-updated list of registered lobbyists, which contains the lobbyist’s name and business address (no telephone numbers), as well as the name and address of the client they are representing, but without the name of the person responsible for authorizing the lobbyist or their telephone number.
There is no information provided on lobbying expenditures.
The Board of Ethics has a web page listing commission members, a link to board agendas and minutes, ethics rules and charter provisions, and copies of financial disclosures filed by county officials, both elected and appointed, and candidates in the recent elections.
Meeting minutes are several months behind. The last set of minutes available online as of yesterday was for the August 8, 2012 meeting.
I didn’t see lists of registered lobbyists on the board’s website. Lobbyists are apparently required to register, but do not have to disclose their activities or expenditures.