Soukis vote on
Bishop trustee pay
The House leader gotBy Richard Borreca
$132,000 in an estate sale,
but says he couldn't benefit
from the vote
House Speaker Joe Souki should not have voted on a bill to limit the pay of Bishop Estate trustees, Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday.
Cayetano and Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono met with editors of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin to discuss the Democratic governor's re-election campaign.
Cayetano, a 24-year political veteran who has served in both the state House and Senate plus eight years as lieutenant governor before winning the top job four years ago, said he would not have voted on the controversial bill if he were Souki.
Souki was paid $132,000 by Maui developer Everett Dowling as a consultant fee for his role in the sale of Maui property to Bishop Estate.
Cayetano has been critical of the Bishop Estate and said at yesterday's meeting that all five trustees should step down or be removed from office.
Yesterday, the governor said Souki's vote "was clearly wrong. The question is whether he should have even gotten involved in the business transactions with Everett Dowling and the Bishop Estate."
Previously, Cayetano declined to comment on Souki's vote, saying it was a judgment call to be left to the voters.
"We have a part-time Legislature, and they are allowed to earn a living, but when I said it was up to the voters, I think that was a call I would not have made, I would not have voted on that bill, period," Cayetano said.
"He did it, and who knows what is going to happen in the general election."
Reached on Maui, Souki defended his vote.
Souki explained that the bill would have limited the compensation of trustees of charitable trusts and because he is not a trustee, he couldn't benefit from the vote, so there was no conflict.
"I was not a trustee, in my judgment, as speaker I didn't feel I was in conflict," he said.
If the Legislature allows members to not vote because of perceived conflicts of interest, Souki warned, soon the Legislature would not make any decisions.
"Once I begin to broaden the conflict-of-interest votes, we would have a difficult time doing business," he said.
"If you look at it too narrowly, it would be difficult for the Legislature to do business."
"We should be able to vote on all matters," he said.
Souki, who like Cayetano is in a tough re-election battle, said he was not working for the Bishop Estate, but rather for the man who was selling land to Bishop Estate.
Last month, Souki was questioned by the state attorney general about the land deal. He denied any wrongdoing and said it was a private real estate matter.
Bishop Estate Archive