- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Key votes on Honolulu’s rail transit project and other issues might be invalidated because Honolulu City Council members failed to disclose conflicts of interest after being wined and dined by lobbyists.

Hawaii News Now reported (https://bit.ly/1wWfynz ) that former and current council members were treated to meals worth $200 each on several occasions by lobbyists between 2006 and 2012, according to documents from the City Ethics Commission.

The city lawmakers then voted on rail transit stations, land rezoning and other parts of the rail project, but they apparently didn’t properly declare conflicts.

The commission is investigating whether there were unlawful gifts that could invalidate votes, said Chuck Totto, the group’s executive director.

“It’s not just, ‘Oh, I got caught with a conflict of interest.’ It could be, ‘I got caught with a conflict of interest and so did a couple of other people and now the bill’s void,’” Totto said.

Some parts of the rail project may have so many votes invalidated that they would lack the votes needed to pass. The implications could be huge, with the City Council possibly having to retake invalidated votes.

Totto said he hopes lobbyists learn that their efforts to wine and dine lawmakers could backfire.

“Lobbyists need to understand what the gift laws are and other ethics laws. Otherwise, they can put their own bills in jeopardy,” he said.

The City Ethics Commission will take at least several months to review council votes, gifts and lack of disclosures to determine if any votes might be invalid.


Information from: KGMB-TV, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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