Thursday, March 15, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

acknowledges she
violated ethics code

She offers ethics panel
$40,000 for using staff on
nongovernment work

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
City Councilwoman Rene Mansho is ackowledging that it was wrong to have her staff work on non-government activities while on city time and is "apologizing" to constituents for the violations.

The Ethics Commission today was deliberating on whether to accept an offer of $40,000 to settle the claims it has against Mansho."Staff time spent on these activities amounted to approximately 8 percent annually on average," according to a release issued this afternoon by Mansho attorney Charles Price.

"Ms. Mansho's charitable and civic intentions were good and noble. Her staff's time spent on these activities was wrong."

The release also acknowledged the findings of the state Campaign Spending Commission, which, on Tuesday voted to settle its claims with Mansho for $40,000. Mansho did not contest claims by the commission that she misused her campaign funds for nonelection purposes.

The campaign spending proceedings were primarily about whether Ms. Mansho gave away too much money for charity," Price said.

Among the charges was that she used $9,841.28 in her campaign fund to pay for travel and lodging for city-related conferences on the neighbor islands, the mainland and abroad when she was also being reimbursed for these trips from the city.

According to Price: "She advanced monies for such trips from her personal funds and campaign account. When the city later sent her reimbursement checks, some of the checks were deposited into her campaign account but by mistake some were not."

Under that ruling, Mansho will need to come up with $10,000 of the money personally. The remaining $30,000 can come from her campaign spending account where she last reported having $30,947.26.

On Wednesday, Mansho resigned her posts as the City Council's vice chairwoman and chairwoman of the powerful Budget Committee under pressure from colleagues.

Price said that Mansho is "trying to make things right" by paying the amounts stipulated in the settlements."She did not intentionally violate any laws," Price said. "Council work was not sacrificed due to these activities."

Payments to be
sought from Mansho

The councilwoman would
have to reimburse taxpayers

By Rod Antone

The executive director of the city Ethics Commission is expected to recommend to panel members that Honolulu City Councilwoman Rene Mansho reimburse taxpayers $48,000, according to Council sources and those familiar with the case.

The recommendation comes two days after the state Campaign Spending Commission fined Mansho $40,000 for misusing her campaign funds. The turmoil forced the three-term councilwoman to step down yesterday from her positions as chairwoman of the powerful Budget and Economic Development Committee and the largely ceremonial role as Council vice chair.

Charles Totto, executive director for the Ethics Commission, would not speak specifically about the case nor confirm the recommendation before this morning's closed-door commission meeting.

Speaking in general terms, however, Totto said such a recommendation by the commission would need to be forwarded to members of the Council, who would then have to ask city attorneys to seek reimbursement.

The recommendation comes after months of investigation into allegations that Mansho abused her position as a councilwoman and wasted taxpayer dollars by having her council staff work on her campaign during council time and using city offices.

Mansho was also being investigated for, among other things, her involvement in promoting Boat Days, a weekly event that welcomes cruise ships at Aloha Tower.

Mansho refused to comment.

At its meeting yesterday, the Council voted Steve Holmes as Mansho's replacement as budget chair. Councilman John DeSoto is the new vice chair.

By all accounts, Mansho was pushed into resigning her positions. Nonetheless, several Council members offered good tidings to their beleaguered colleague.

"I'll be supporting her morally," said Councilman John DeSoto. "As human beings, we all make mistakes."

Councilman Romy Cachola, like others, praised Mansho for stepping down from her posts as a way of steering her troubles away from the Council. "I'm hoping this will bring some cohesiveness," he said. "But she has been through difficult times and she needs our support."

Star-Bulletin reporter Gordon Y.K. Pang
also contributed to this report.

City & County of Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin