Sunday, June 6, 2004

Gov warns of reach
of ethics decision

Lingle says helping groups
such as Aloha United Way
could be a conflict for the state

An unfavorable state Ethics Commission ruling has caused Gov. Linda Lingle to say that the state should review ethics laws pertaining to nonprofit organizations.

Last week, the ethics commission said Lingle violated state laws by forming a private nonprofit group, Citizens Achieving Reform in Education, to lobby for changes in the public schools. Lingle used state employees and facilities during state working hours to operate the committee, which the commission said was a violation of the law that "prohibits state resources from being used in a preferential manner for private business purposes."

Because the law defining a business includes nonprofits, Lingle said that she is now concerned that other operations such as the Aloha United Way could be jeopardized.

"What about Aloha United Way? It is a private, non-profit private organization, but we use our payroll system to do payroll deductions. We hold events in all our departments to raise money for them," Lingle said.

Also, state employees serve on Aloha United Way boards and spend state time attending United Way meetings, Lingle added.

"We are a big part of the United Way effort," Lingle said.

"I think the average person would have felt like I did, "Lingle said. "How could it possibly be against the law to help a nonprofit organization?"

State legislators use their offices and equipment to help nonprofit or charity organizations all the time, Lingle added.

"It is a wake-up call for the Legislature. They have nonprofits working in their offices, they draft bills for them, use Xerox machines, telephones," Lingle said.

Lingle acknowledged that her work with CARE, which was "a public policy issue where we were trying to get the legislature to do something," is different than helping a nonprofit, but the legislature could run into the same trouble by assisting nonprofits, she said.

Hawaii State Ethics Commission:

E-mail to City Desk


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