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Thursday, March 2, 2017
Ethics: DLNR Harbor Agent Grabs for Payoff Beyond $200 Allowed Under Law
By News Release @ 4:56 PM :: 5601 Views :: Ethics, Small Business

State Harbor Agent’s Acceptance of Free Parasailing Rides

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, February 27, 2017

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) has resolved an investigation of Respondent William Nahale, Harbor Agent III, Department of Land and Natural Resources, for alleged violations of the State Ethics Code, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) chapter 84.

The Commission initiated its investigation after receiving information that Respondent Nahale had accepted free parasailing rides from a company, UFO Parasail, that was subject to his official authority as a Harbor Agent. …

As a Harbor Agent III, Respondent Nahale oversees the Kailua-Kona Small Boat Harbor (“Kailua-Kona Harbor”) and related ocean waters. His duties include issuing use permits, collecting fees and costs from businesses operating in the harbor, coordinating enforcement of ocean and permitting laws, assisting in the promulgation of rules governing harbor activities, and making recommendations as to whether businesses should be permitted to operate in Kailua-Kona Harbor.

UFO Parasail is a parasailing company that operates in Kailua-Kona Harbor, and Respondent Nahale oversees UFO Parasail’s operations in his state employment. …

On October 28, 2016, Respondent Nahale accepted free parasailing rides from UFO Parasail for himself, another adult, and three minors. The total value of the parasailing rides was $238.45.  (Oh that extra $38.45 is so much more expensive!  $200.00 is the sweet spot!)

Prior to October 28, 2016, Respondent Nahale used his state email address to arrange for the free rides. He informed UFO Parasail’s staff that he wanted to go parasailing with “close friends,” and in response, UFO Parasail offered the free parasailing rides. Nahale then sent emails from his state email account stating that “I will find some way of giving back to you guys for sure” and that “I’ll be sure to kick down some specialties for you and your staff as compensation . . . .”

In November 2016, after the Commission received an inquiry into Respondent Nahale’s actions, he offered to pay UFO Parasail for the parasailing rides. To date, Respondent Nahale has not yet paid for the rides….

By accepting free parasailing rides from UFO Parasail, Respondent Nahale likely violated HRS § 84-11. The “gift” of parasailing rides in this case was over $200 in value…. 

(Ooops!  If he had just checked more carefully, he could have kept his solicitations below the $200 threshold and there would be no legal problem!)

read … Full Report

  *   *   *   *   *

SA: State Ethics Commission fines DLNR agent $1,000

  *   *   *   *   *

Feb 15, 2017: Corruption: DOBOR Boss Fails in Effort to retaliate Against Hawaii County Prosecutor

HTH: County Prosecutor Mitch Roth was cleared Tuesday of allegations he violated the county ethics code when he testified about perceived corruption in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources during an Oct. 28 Land Board hearing in Honolulu.

The county Board of Ethics voted 3-0, with one member abstaining, to dismiss the charge levied by a state official, based on a lack of probable cause. The complaint was filed by DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation Administrator Ed Underwood.

Underwood said Roth used his position as an elected official to further private interests when he testified during Keauhou Bay charter Capt. William Murtaugh’s request for a contested case hearing after DOBOR refused to renew his commercial boat ramp permit.

“He alleged corruption. He alleged retaliation on the part of me and my staff with no documentation to back up these allegations,” Underwood said. “It was very clear he was testifying as the Hawaii County prosecutor.” ….

Roth said he was acting as a private individual during the hearing, not a county prosecutor. He said he took vacation time and flew to Honolulu at his own expense.

The Ethics Board found Roth had the constitutional right as an individual and the right granted in the county charter as a prosecuting attorney to address the Land Board about his concerns. As far as the Ethics Board is concerned, Roth could have used county time and expenses for the trip.

The county charter states, the county prosecutor may “research, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding crime, crime prevention and the criminal justice system to the governor, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the council, the mayor, the Hawaii Police Department and other criminal justice agencies, or the general public, as the prosecuting attorney deems appropriate.”

read … Corruption



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