Maui News

Ing Introduces Bill to Put Limits on Lobbyists Serving as OHA Trustees

February 3, 2017, 9:23 AM HST
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Rep. Ing. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui, Chair of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs) has written and will be hearing legislation to prohibit registered and recently registered (within a year) lobbyists in the State of Hawaiʻi from serving as or running for Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

“We’re talking about a conflict of interest in its most egregious form. OHA Trustees are elected to serve the Hawaiian people, not push corporate agendas. We currently have one trustee who is paid by right-wing mainland advocacy groups who seek to dismantle Hawaiian programs. You cannot ethically wear both hats.”

Ing claims that one trustee is still registered as a lobbyist and at the time of their candidacy for office pulled and filed nomination papers, got elected, and was inaugurated as a lobbyist. According to the State Ethics Commission website, the trustee re-registered as a lobbyist on January 31, 2017 and he remains an active lobbyist.

“Here’s someone who has publicly fought to end Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiian Homelands, and Native Hawaiian self-determination, who is now sitting on a board that’s tasked to help the Hawaiian people. If you follow the money, it all makes sense. But this is hewa and against the mission and vision of OHA.”

Ing claims the trustee is the President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaiʻi, which is funded by an extreme right-wing advocacy organization based on the mainland.

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Ing has also previously introduced measures to reduce the influence of “Super PACs” corporate money in politics, but cites this issue as a higher level of bad government:

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“We’re not talking about campaign donations here. This is mainland money directly lining the pockets of an elected official in order to influence policy. For legislators and other policy makers, this would be called bribery. My bill will end this double standard and ensure that all OHA trustees stand with their Hawaiian beneficiaries.” said Ing.

Note: Ing was among a list of four candidates considered for a vacancy on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 2011.

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