Friday, September 19, 2014


Astute reader catches financial disclosure glitch

by Larry Geller

It seems that some dedicated good government advocates are paying attention to the nitty-gritty of financial disclosures for the 2014 election. Good thing, because the number of filings, as usual, seems to defy review by the Ethics Commission. If only the Legislature would increase their budget…

An astute reader forwarded the following catch:

Kent Fonoimoana is running for Hawaii State House District 47. His financial disclosure form was filed, according to the date stamp, on July 21, 2014. The deadline to file was July 18.

Fonomoana was in good company:

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui were among the 2014 candidates for office who failed to file their financial disclosure statements on time and will face a $25 fine from the state Ethics Commission, the commission said Tuesday .

The financial disclosure statements include information about a candidate's sources of income, business ownership interests, debts, real property ownership, officer and director positions in various businesses and other financial information.

A total of 130 of 203 candidates filed by last Friday's deadline, the Commission said.

[Star-Advertiser Political Radar, Missed Deadline, 7/23/2014]

I submit that a system in which 64 percent of candidates are disregarding the law isn’t working very well. Check out the complete list of candidates who missed the filing deadline at the link.

We don’t know if any fines were assessed, and heck, who cares about a $25 fine (or so it appears).

So now the forms are filed and posted on the web.

I’m glad that some people are going through this mountain of data. I know the Ethics Commission may not appreciate my criticism, but I would think that crowdsourcing the vetting of the forms is not the best thing to do.

Take Mr. Fonoimoana’s form. I checked the website, and it is still the current form listed, so it appears it has not been amended.

Here’s the problem:


Creditors are listed, but no amounts given. And in this particular case, shouldn’t potential voters know if this candidate has a tax issue?

If you’ve seen similar articles I’ve posted earlier, you’ll remember that each filer signs the bottom of the form. Here’s the signature block for this one:

Signature box

CERTIFICATION: By checking this box or signing your name on this form, you signify and affirm that you are the person whose name appears as the "Filer” above and the information contained in the form is true, correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief. You further certify that you understand that there are statutory penalties for failing to report the information required by Hawaii law.

As to statutory penalties, are they ever levied?

Remember, 64 percent of filers didn’t even bother to file by the deadline. Compliance with the law doesn’t seem like a priority. Maybe because there’s no downside to non-compliance.

Will the Ethics Commission impose the “statutory penalties?”

With the money, they could hire a part-timer to go through the forms and check them out (hint). (they’re probably not allowed to do that)

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