Ethics complaint dropped for Kanno
A state commission notes the senator's decision to retire
The state Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against Sen. Brian Kanno, based on the lawmaker's stated intention to retire from office after this year.
In its six-page order, issued yesterday, the commission said that because the complaint stems from Kanno's actions while in office, it would be up to the state Senate to determine any punishment if he were found guilty of violating the state ethics code.
Once he leaves office, he would not be subject to any disciplinary action issued by the Senate, the commission said.
The commission said it would be "an unwise and imprudent use of taxpayer resources and taxpayer dollars" to further the case.
Kanno (D, Kalealoa-Makakilo) announced on the final day of the 2006 session that he would not seek re-election so he could spend more time with his family and attend graduate school.
He did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment yesterday.
Senate Republicans filed the complaint against Kanno last year, accusing the Senate Labor Committee chairman of improperly using his office to try and influence Norwegian Cruise Lines on behalf of a constituent.
That constituent, Leon Rouse, was fired by NCL in 2004 after being accused of sexual harassment. Kanno was accused of attempting to pressure NCL to reinstate Rouse.
Kanno also asked other legislators to sign a letter of support, then helped introduce resolutions that critics say were aimed at intimidating NCL. The nonbinding resolutions, which never advanced, would have directed the state Tax Department to assess whether the cruise line should have to pay the state's hotel room tax.
Kanno denied any wrongdoing, saying he intervened because he was concerned about protections for workers. Rouse had said he was unfairly fired and was not allowed to face male co-workers who accused him of harassment. Norwegian said it took appropriate action in dealing with the matter.
Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo) said the decision made sense under the circumstances of Kanno's decision to retire from office.
"Nevertheless, it is an indication of a larger problem," Hemmings added. "Sen. Kanno did not act alone. This is the reason why we need a balanced Legislature."
The order for dismissal was filed "without prejudice," meaning it can be filed again, and was signed by four of the five commissioners.