Hawaii Ethics Commission fines current and former state workers over free golf

Nine current and former Hawaii state employees accused of accepting free golf games from contractors and others doing business with their agencies have agreed to pay a total of almost $35,000 in administrative penalties.

In exchange for the $34,800 in in penalties imposed, the Hawaii Ethics Commission will not pursue further actions against the nine, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://is.gd/WCLnD5). The commission's report on the case was issued Monday.

All nine of the workers were in jobs making them responsible for selecting contractors, according to the commission.

Contractors who offered them free rounds of golf or free entry into charity golf tournaments did business with their agencies, the commission said.

Gov. David Ige said his administration will look at recent procurements involving the workers named in the report. The employees' supervisors also will look at their procurement authority to determine any appropriate actions, Ige said.

The governor said he was "extremely disappointed" and that the workers in those positions should have known better.

"The public has the right to expect the very best behavior from state employees involved in expending public funds through procurement," Ige said.

Commission executive director Les Kondo said the report concludes an investigation that originally focused on one worker. Ultimately, the case led to dozens of queries at numerous state agencies.

Kondo said he hopes the investigation sends a clear message to state employees.

"The underlying purpose of the state ethics code is to foster public confidence in state government, that state employees are doing things for the right reasons," he said.

The probe lasted more than a year and included the questioning of up to 60 state employees.

The commission in September announced the conclusion of its investigation of 21 employees, who agreed to pay penalties without formal charges being issued against them and without conclusion of any ethics code violations.

The nine workers included in the latest report had charges filed against them but worked out a settlement amount with the state instead of an investigation or proceeding. No conclusions were made by the commission that any ethics codes were violated.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com