Common Cause urgesBy Bruce Dunford
Senate to investigate
Common Cause Hawaii, a citizens lobby group, is calling on the state Senate to investigate one of its own for alleged misconduct.
Common Cause wants action taken against Sen. Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe-Maunawili-Enchanted Lake) on charges same as six misdemeanor counts involving campaign spending violations against Ige contained in a state indictment last July.
Ige's trial on those charges was postponed from November until May, which is after the current legislative session ends. His attorneys said they needed more time to review 2,000 pages of evidence.
Common Cause Executive Director Larry Meacham said yesterday the organization wants the investigation because Senate President Norman Mizuguchi (D, Moanalua Valley-Aiea-Pearlridge) refuses to bar Ige from voting on the pending confirmation of Attorney General Earl Anzai. It was Anzai's office that obtained the Ige indictment.
Ige could not be reached for comment and previously has declined to comment on calls by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters that he not vote on Anzai's confirmation because of a conflict of interest.
Gov. Ben Cayetano last week said he didn't think Ige should vote on the confirmation because of his past statements that the indictment against him was part of a political vendetta.
Mizuguchi declined comment yesterday on the Common Cause's demand letter until he prepares a response to the organization.
Under the Senate's Rule 72, the president must first attempt to resolve the charges in an administrative proceeding. If not, a special Senate committee investigates and makes recommendations for action which could include censure, suspension or expulsion.
Under the rule, however, there are no deadlines for the Senate president to act.
"I don't think they can resolve it through an administrative hearing," Meacham said. "And I don't think they can just blow it off."
The Senate could postpone taking any action until after Ige's trial, he said. However, "with charges this serious, the Senate should not wait until the trial or the next session to have them investigated," Meacham said.
All of the state's charges involve Ige's campaign finance reports, mostly unreported campaign work and campaign payments done by and for a printing firm.
He is charged with one count of false swearing, one count of making an unsworn falsification, two counts of failure to report campaign expenditures, one count of failure to report a campaign deficit, and one count of failure to report the printing firm's work either as a campaign contribution or loan.
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