‘Sunshine’ raised after lawmakers’ radio talk
HILO » Hawaii County Councilman Stacy Higa does not believe he and fellow Council members J Yoshimoto and Emily Naeole violated the state Sunshine Law when they appeared together on two radio programs this week.
"I don't think there was a Sunshine violation," because he and the others spoke in generalities, Higa said. Under the law, Council members are not allowed to congregate outside scheduled public meetings to discuss government business.
Bills under consideration by the Council were not discussed, he said.
Higa, Yoshimoto and Naeole appeared on KPUA on Monday and on KHBC on Tuesday.
Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said he opened an investigation of the three lawmakers after residents registered complaints with County Clerk Casey Jarman.
Ashida said if he found the law has been broken, he would refer the case to the state Office of Information Practices, which would determine whether the violation was willful.
If the OIP determined there was a violation that was involuntary, the three could be required to discuss their radio comments at a Council meeting.
But if the office decided there was a willful violation, it could eventually lead to the councilmembers' removal from office, Ashida said.
During his six years as corporation counsel, Ashida said he has never seen the OIP determine a willful violation of the Sunshine Law by government officials.
Ashida said if a violation had occurred, he did not believe it was willful because the councilmembers were talking on the radio rather than meeting together in secret.