Monday, April 06, 2015
House Speaker mum so far on complaint against Karl Rhoads
by Larry Geller
In a letter to House Speaker Joseph Souki emailed on March 29 (dated March 30), attorney Lance Collins lodged a complaint on behalf of two of his clients regarding the actions of Rep. Karl Rhoads while he was chair of a special investigating committee looking into whether former Speaker Calvin Say met the residency requirements to hold office.
To date, according to Collins, there has been no response from the Speaker.
A snip from the complaint:
On February 5, 2015, Karl Rhoads accessed an online database that maintained information obtained from voter registration affidavits. The information accessed includes both the public information (full name, precinct of registration and the status of the voter) and substantial private information (home address, telephone number, etc.,).|
Mr. Rhoads printed a copy of this information about Ms. Ramona Hussey and Ms. Natalia Hussey-Burdick and transmitted it to Mr. Calvin Say and his attorneys.
Mr. Say's attorneys subsequently submitted this information back to Mr. Rhoads on February 11, 2015 marked as Exhibits 1 and 2 to the Special Committee to Consider Misc. Comm. No. 1003.
Why is this a problem? First of all, as Collins notes, the disclosure of the private information was not necessary. And it is also prohibited by law (snip):
HRS 11-97(a) states:
(a) A voter's full name, district/precinct designation, and voter status shall be public; but all other personal information, as provided on the voter registration affidavit, shall be confidential except for election or government purposes in accordance with rules adopted by the chief election officer, pursuant to chapter 91.
Collins asked that the information be redacted from the document posted on the Capitol website, but on February 23, a copy on the website was only partially redacted, as his letter reports. I verified that it is the same copy posted today.
The document is still publicly available here. Nor is there any indication in the revised document or on the Capitol web page that the document posted is not the original as submitted by Say’s attorney and that it has been altered.
Should the investigative committee and Rhoads’ conduct as chair be subject to lower standards than, say, a court proceeding? Apparently not, at least not in Hawaii (snip):
The Hawai'i Supreme Court held that the same tests that apply to judges apply to quasijudicial adjudicators. Sussel v. City & County of Honolulu Civil Service Commission, 71 Haw. 101, 107 (1989). They noted: “There are certain fundamentals of just procedure which are the same for every type of tribunal and every type of proceeding. Concededly, a fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement for due process. This applies to [quasi-judicial proceedings] as well as to courts.” Id at 107 (citations omitted)
Since the Senate has now formed its own investigative committee to determine if Sen. Brickwood Galuteria lives in his district, the Supreme Court opinion might be something this new committee should keep in mind as well.
The lack of response so far raises again the question whether politically powerful legislators are allowed to break rules and laws with impunity.