Harbin should resign --
or be forced out


The troubled appointee was convicted on bad check charges and has refused the governor's request to resign.

BEVERLY Harbin's personal financial problems do not necessarily disqualify her from serving in the state Legislature. However, evading the truth about them has cast an aura of mistrust around her even as further information about her past was uncovered this week by the Star-Bulletin's Richard Borreca.

For that reason, Harbin should resign as representative of the 28th House district, which Governor Lingle has asked her to do.

Harbin is not only refusing, she is challenging her new colleagues in the House to remove her, which they can initiate with a two-thirds majority vote. Members ought to take her on.

Harbin clearly misled the governor and her staff when, in response to repeated questions, she claimed there was nothing in her background that would embarrass Lingle or rule out an appointment to fill a one-year vacancy left when Democratic Rep. Ken Hiraki resigned his seat.

After Lingle gave her the nod, however, KITV4 News reported Harbin had outstanding state tax liens totaling $123,000, stemming from her failed auto repair business. That compounded the criticism Harbin's appointment had already provoked because she registered as a Democrat, an affiliation required for the job, just a few days after Hiraki resigned.

Yesterday, the Star-Bulletin reported that in 1987 Harbin was convicted on charges of passing bad checks and given a six-month suspended sentence. Harbin again blindsided the governor, telling neither Lingle nor her staff about the convictions, even though after the tax liens discovery she was asked if there was anything else to disclose.

Harbin's conviction was recorded under her married name, Endrizal, which might be the reason it eluded the governor's staff in a background check. Though Lingle has said she will heighten scrutiny in the future, the Harbin experience is certainly a hard lesson for the administration.

Because Harbin already has been sworn in, the law does not allow Lingle to rescind the appointment. The conviction involved misdemeanors, which does not prevent Harbin from holding office, as would a felony count.

This leaves voters in the Kakaako-downtown district bound to a legislator with limited capacity to serve them effectively. The mistrust Harbin has touched off seriously weakens her as an advocate for small business, a role she had said she hoped to fill in the Legislature. Her alienation of fellow Democrats and other lawmakers likewise will diminish her productivity.

The best she can do is to call it quits.

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