*** Commentary *** Regarding Our UIPA Request For Emails And Probe Into Possible Naeole-Beason Campaign Violations

Just want to give you heads up:

Big Island Chronicle and Hawaii247.com have jointly requested through the County Department of Data Systems all emails, including those trashed, written to and from Gwendolyn Kupahu since July 5, 2010 to the present date — everything on the Data Systems database.  As you may know, Kupahu is the Council aide to Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason.  Kupahu is also listed as the treasurer of Naeole-Beason’s campaign. I also plan to revise my request to Data Systems and request emails to and from Emily Naeole-Beason from July 5 to the present date, since I know that Kupahu frequently uses Naeole-Beason’s email.

I have been informed by someone I deem to be a reliable source that Kupahu has been using County computers and phones to do campaign-related work.  I have also been informed that Kupahu has been writing and issuing checks out of the Pahoa Council Office for campaign related activities.  I have urged my source to file a petition with the Board of Ethics.  (Call the Office of the Corporation Counsel at (808) 961-8304.) I believe my source will be filing a petition shortly.

Just in case anyone is in need of a refresher course on the County Code of Ethics, look to the “fair treatment” provision in Section 2-83.  Here it is in full:

“(a) Officers and employees of the County, while discharging their duties and dealing with the public, shall adhere to the following precepts:

(1) All public property and equipment are to be treated as a public trust and are not to be used in a proprietary manner or for personal purposes without proper consent.

(2) No person in a supervisory capacity shall engage in personal or business relationships with subordinates, which might intimidate said subordinates in the discharge of their official duties.

(3) All persons shall be treated in a courteous, fair and impartial manner.

(b) No officer or employee shall use or attempt to use the officer’s or employee’s official position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges, exemptions, advantages, contracts, or treatment, for oneself or others; including but not limited to the following:

(1) Seeking other employment or contract for services for oneself by the use or attempted use of the officer’s or employee’s office or position.

(2) Accepting, receiving, or soliciting compensation or other consideration for the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties or responsibilities except as provided by law.

(3) Using County time, equipment or other facilities for private business or campaign purposes.

(4) Soliciting, selling, or otherwise engaging in a substantial financial transaction with a subordinate or a person or business whom the officer or employee inspects or supervises in the officer’s or employee’s official capacity.

(5) Using County property or personnel for other than a public activity or purpose.

(c) Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit an officer from introducing bills and resolutions, serving on committees or from making statements or taking action in the exercise of the officer’s legislative functions. Every officer shall file a full and complete public disclosure of the nature and extent of the interest or transaction which the officer believes may be affected by legislative action.”

As I await receipt of the emails from Department of Data Systems, I have to tell you that, at this hour, Naeole-Beason has not responded to a request for comment on this.

Also, I called the person who I know makes the t-shirts for Naeole-Beason’s campaign and this is how our conversation went,

(Me) “Do you make the bumper stickers and t-shirts for Emily Naeole-Beason’s campaign?”

(The person) “I make the t-shirts, but not the bumper stickers.”

(Me) “Have you ever picked up a check for the T-shirts at the Pahoa Council Office?”

(The person) “Yes.”

(Me) “You realize that that is a violation of the County Code of Ethics, don’t you?  I mean, you’re not to blame.  But they aren’t supposed to be doing any campaign-related work out of that office.”

(The person) “Actually, I can’t remember whether I’ve picked up the check in the office, outside of the office, or at Maku’u Market.”

(Me) “I realize you are trying to protect your client, and you don’t want her to get in trouble.  It’s okay.  Thanks for answering my questions.”

Unless this person wants to reveal his or her identity, I don’t intend to.  I realize it is difficult doing business in Pahoa, and I don’t think it is right to bring the person’s business into this unless he or she chooses to.  I just feel like this person’s initial response to me is on the right track with the information my source shared with me, some which was actually witnessed.

Also, I want to call to your attention the fact that Naeole-Beason has two new volunteers in the Pahoa Council Office.  One of the volunteers is Cherish Almeida, who is listed as the chairperson of Naeole-Beason’s campaign.

Apparently, Almeida and the other person are volunteering, in addition to Sheryle “Sativa” Sulton, who is a volunteer, Kupahu, who is a paid Council aide, and RJ Hampton, who is a paid legislative assistant.

I have been informed by both County Clerk Kenny Goodenow and Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida that it is neither a legal nor ethical violation for campaign workers to serve as volunteers or paid staff working for the County.

“Generally there is no legal or ethical prohibition against a member of your campaign staff working for the County or volunteering. Of course using County resources for campaign purposes is strictly prohibited,” Ashida said.

Obviously, the Code of Ethics needs to be revised.  Certainly, if there isn’t a legal or ethical violation for campaign staff to work for the County or volunteer, certainly there is an appearance of impropriety.  Also, it has to require a lot of self discipline and a commitment to a personal code of ethics to separate County versus campaign matters.

25 replies
  1. go lakers
    go lakers says:

    Good for you. The ethics rules are there for a reason and if an elected official doesn’t like it, tough.

    Either play by the rules, don’t get caught or pay the consequences.

    I admire you for doing this and am wondering why the local Hilo paper hasn’t done more investigative journalism on issues like this and more.

    But, the ethics board is a joke and so is the charter. The charter has been manipulated to the whims and/or agenda of Ashida. And the ethics board has been loaded with his appointees. Ashida sets the rules and appoints those who decide and enforce the ethics rules based on his own philosophy or self-serving goals.

    Ashida defines as one of his job responsibilities as to protecting and/or defend all council members (or at least the ones in majoriy, this year) county departments, and their employees.

    The tax-payer and voter be damned.

    For example, Kaimana Pumping Servie overcharged the tax-payer 50k a month on a possible rigged procurement contract.

    Wouldn’t that get a LEGITIMATE ethics board fired up? That issue was never even brought to the board by our esteemed appointed legal expert.

    If Emily wins, nothing will come of this and they will sweep it under the carpet. If she loses, than who knows.

    And if the board so conveniently decides to take no action, Ashida will call this biased board’s decision a “thorough finding.”

    Why do you think no one files ethics complaints against elected, appointed, or county employed persons because no one will be held accountable.

    That is the perception but also the reality.

  2. Kim Jordan
    Kim Jordan says:

    This isn’t even her 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd filed complaint! But if you think you can keep doing these kind of things over and over – you keep doing them. This isn’t a surprise at all.

  3. Matt Binder
    Matt Binder says:


    Thank you for doing the work that the ethics watchdogs and newspapers SHOULD be doing, but aren’t.

    One question: under what law can you compel the Department of Data Systems to give you the emails?

    Good luck with the investigation. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I used to be an investi-journo myself, many moons ago.

  4. Matt Binder
    Matt Binder says:

    I just noticed your reference to the Uniform Information Practices Act, so I skimmed through the UIPA handbook.

    Looks like Hawaii has good open record laws.

    Good luck making them honor the law.

  5. damon
    damon says:

    In order to make it look as though you are not directly targeting Naeole… Why not make the same request for everyone sitting in office that’s up for re-election?

    I’d love to see Enriques emails as his district is much larger and could be covered by Email much more quickly then in person.

  6. Tiffany Edwards Hunt
    Tiffany Edwards Hunt says:

    Folks, I urge you to check out Toni Robert’s latest blog post here:


    Um, Damon, we are not on a fishing expedition here.

    I am targeting Gwen Kupahu and Emily Naeole-Beason, because I have received information from a reliable source that County facilities and equipment have been used for campaign purposes, specifically in the Pahoa Council Office. My source did not make any allegations about Guy Enriques engaging in campaign activity on County equipment or in County facilities.

    If you wish to go through Enriques’ emails, it is your right under the Uniform Information Practices Act.

    I can tell you right now, it is labor intensive, on the County records’ custodian’s part and on the part of the records’ requestor. The request should not be made willy-nilly.

  7. Tiffany Edwards Hunt
    Tiffany Edwards Hunt says:

    Well, Damon, that’s why it’s a commentary, and it’s not posing as a news story.

    Also, because it is personal, I could potentially serve as a witness if my source goes to the Board of Ethics as planned.

    Conducting campaign work on County facilities/equipment is a serious allegation, and I’ve actually witnessed it happening, so that would be the “fishy” smell.

    But if you want to go shoot the messenger and and insinuate that I’m not diligent or that I’m unnecessarily picking on the councilwoman or her council aide, be prepared to publicly apologize to me when 1. my source goes to the Board of Ethics 2. my UIPA records request reveals campaign-related activity on County equipment.

    I also think you should stick to commentaries about cliff diving and other FLUFF because, in this day and age in doing business with the County, it’s getting pretty cutthroat and costly, actually.

    For the first time in the decade plus that I have served my community as a journalist, I’m (we are) being asked to pay a fee for government information. Actually, I’m (we are) being asked to pay a fee for County workers to collect the information for me (us). If that isn’t an effort to dissuade (me) us from withdrawing (my) our request, I really don’t know what is.

    I am feeling very leery, but I shall not be dissuaded.

    I encourage anyone and everyone to look to the right and push that DONATE button if you want some true investigative journalism.

    Please note that Hawaii247.com is involved in this to present the news angle.

    Given I have worked for the Puna councilwoman previously, I will keep my information sharing as commentaries.

    As you know, I make every effort to separate news from opinion.

  8. damon
    damon says:

    I understand this and don’t understand the law’s quite yet.

    I would tread lightly as now you are moderating comments which therefore means you approve all comments.

    I believe I may have read a comment on a previous thread that has lead to this request.

    Tread lightly Tiff and wear a big stick…

    Love what you are doing and wish I had more cajones and time to do it.

    I’m staying away from commentary, thoughts, solicitations and opinions as much as I can on politics this year.

    The thing that sucks about expressing your own opinion about a candidate… is that half the time you are pissing off your own readers “possibly” and there by cutting connections as a blogger for the next few years.

    I will be helping a few candidates and have been for awhile. My support of those candidates will remain off my blog.

    It’s just so weird that this type of crap flies now that we so much internet activity in Pahoa.

    I just remember this TWO YEARS AGO and it still seems like your targeting her from something that happened a while back:

    “….I think Tiffany has done an excellent job for District 5 and even Emily herself has recently stated that “Tiff’s the key person,”

    If Ms. Naeole is re-elected, whomever fill’s Tiffany’s shoes will have some very big shoes to fill.

    While I understand that Motherhood and parenting is THE most important thing for a child, I just question the timing… Why right before the Elections? I mean even if Emily is Elected… She still could have announced this at a later time considering she did say that she was going to stay on to complete her duties…”


    (Disclosure – yes I am married into a very big Hawaiian family that does include Naeole as my Aunt… but that does not have anything to do w/ why I am standing up at this time with these questions when the timing “STINKS AGAIN”.

  9. Kim Jordan
    Kim Jordan says:

    Why now during the election? Because the ethics complaint is about her using her office for campaign matters during the election …. not after.

  10. Tiffany Edwards Hunt
    Tiffany Edwards Hunt says:


    I did not conjure this up, I have a source who will be making a Board of Ethics complaint in coming days. Let’s be clear. But since you want to remind everyone that I have worked for Naeole-Beason in the past, I will repeat what I just wrote in a comment above, I could potentially serve as a witness before the Board of Ethics. I personally witnessed campaign activity using County equipment in 2008. It was among the number of reasons I chose not to continue on as a legislative assistant.
    As I said, I will continue to write about this in commentaries, not as news stories. Hawaii247 will be writing this with that objective lens.

    I choose a different path than you, Damon. I am not into being a PR whore

  11. Ken
    Ken says:

    I think it’s about time that the incompetence, arrogance ignorance and stupidity of EACH of our elected officials is exposed.

    Granted, Emily tops the list on being incompetent, arrogant, ignorant and stupid, but EACH AND EVERY MEMBER OF THIS COUNCIL, along with the Mayor could have some form of news release created each day, even multiple times in a day that expose the true incompetence, arrogance, ignorance and stupidity these boobs are.

    Go get them Emily. Full throttle. Along with the rest of this human garbage pile.

    PS – Was in Malama Market the other day when she was hawking for votes. I told her I would be better off having daily root canals than her as my representative.

  12. Rob Tucker
    Rob Tucker says:

    A UIPA document request can take several weeks to fulfill. This request will not have any results to deliver prior to this Saturday’s primary and may or may not have results before November depending on how it proceeds.

    It is a process that can take some time.

    in 2009 FoPF’s UIPA request on Mayor Kenoi’s communications regarding the appointment of the PCDP AC Committee took about three months to play out and we had to ask for assistance from the Office of Information Practices (OIP) twice before it concluded. OIP determined that Lincoln Ashida was not being “responsive”.

    So don’t hold your breathe.

  13. Toni
    Toni says:

    @Rob: A UIPA document request can take several weeks to fulfill. This request will not have any results to deliver prior to this Saturday’s primary and may or may not have results before November depending on how it proceeds.

    Fortunately, waiting on the government to produce is not the only means of evidentiary documentation. It is only an adjunct. Frankly, I was told yesterday, the ones who will vote for Emily will never read any of this; will not see where she may have done anything in error and will encourage her to carry on as she has. The flip side to that argument is unless they do come out and vote those who do read the paper, the blogs and do not share in the ‘wink’ philosophy of business may carry the election.

    You may be right Rob, but in this case, I hope not.

  14. Shadybrady
    Shadybrady says:

    Last time I looked “we the people” was….well,


    And now we have some county officials, (a.k.a. “The Hired Help”) tossing about labels and calling their constituents unflattering names. Because we have the AUDACITY to ask our elected officials to enforce the laws that they themselves have crafted from the left over remnants of our taxpayer dollars.

    I resent having to close my business, (also a disservice to this community), in order to present testimony to our elected officials, only to be insulted, (in more ways than one), by those elected to serve.

    Maybe the idea is that if they keep insulting our ideals, as well as our intelligence, they might alienate us, (“we the people”) to the point that the citizenry will refrain from any actual contact with the County Council.

    It might work, but I doubt it.

  15. silverpenny
    silverpenny says:

    go lakers Says:
    “But, the ethics board is a joke and so is the charter. The charter has been manipulated to the whims and/or agenda of Ashida. And the ethics board has been loaded with his appointees. Ashida sets the rules and appoints those who decide and enforce the ethics rules based on his own philosophy or self-serving goals.”

    Ashida’s not above the law. Is he a Kenoi appointee? If they can’t/won’t do their job, the people can and should impeach.

    Ken Says:
    “I think it’s about time that the incompetence, arrogance ignorance and stupidity of EACH of our elected officials is exposed.”

    Agreed. As individuals, we can provide bits of pieces of data that can result in a group effort of completing the entire puzzle. Cohesiveness is required.

    “Granted, Emily tops the list on being incompetent, arrogant, ignorant and stupid”, but EACH AND EVERY MEMBER OF THIS COUNCIL, along with the Mayor could have some form of news release created each day, even multiple times in a day that expose the true incompetence, arrogance, ignorance and stupidity these boobs are.”

    IMO, Naole and Enriques are tied for first in the “stupid, arrogant, ignorant, incompetent” SAII award…but let’s not forget “asshole” Ikeda et al. Let’s start with unseating the bottom feeders, then work our way up to Ashida and Kenoi.

  16. silverpenny
    silverpenny says:

    Matt Binder wrote an excellent article in the WHT
    “Now Ashida is telling the paper that “every case has to be examined by the unique factor of its circumstance.” Translation: he’s cutting slack for Emily Naeole-Beason, Guy Enriques, J. Yoshimoto, Fresh Onishi, and Donald Ikeda as they are caught using county cell phones for campaign purposes.
    Our county’s chief election law enforcement officer playing favorites? Ashida’s hypocrisy is just a small part of the pattern that skews elections and keeps the Hilo Old Boys in power. There’s one way to stop this from happening again: by voting Naeole-Beason and Enriques out of office and calling on the new County Council to replace Ashida with an unbiased Corporation Counsel.”

    Another reason why it is crucial to remove Naole and Enriques from council, by whatever means. If the church people and developer votes cannot be overpowered (we’re screwed if this is true), we must take another approach as plan B. I see impeachment as viable. Only 2% of registered voters signatures are required. Please urge all district 6 voters to sign the impeachment papers by going to http://www.ImpeachGuyEnriques.Info

    Any other ideas for plan B?

  17. Rob Tucker
    Rob Tucker says:

    I think some are being to hard on some of our council. It is easy to lump them all together but my experience is that In Ford, Yagong and Hoffman we have council members that are smart and discerning and willing to look at the island as a whole. They also take risks and sometimes vote for the best interest knowing they will experience backlash from other council members.

    Try, if you can, to look at them as individuals and evaluate their work separately.

  18. silverpenny
    silverpenny says:


    Agreed that Ford, Yagong, and Hoffman actually do have the best interest of the people at heart. We need to support them best we can.

  19. go lakers
    go lakers says:

    I agree with you. Brenda and Dominic are doing an excellent job and are standing up to them.

    But Hoffman..

    Hoffaman seems naive and unwilling to take off the gloves in the council hearings. Hoffman has the same problem as Obama did in his first two years in that he’s trying to be diplomatic with the conservatives and keep dialog open with them to hopefully come to good bi-partisan consensus.

    But you can’t.

    If there is anything many of us have learned is that the our own local 3 plus 2 have no sense of honor and appreciation for the privilige in serving, respect for ALL constituents on the island, and don’t believe in a good debative process in law making and open and transparent government.

    These guys genetic make-up is just not like that.

    It just reeks of arrogant, ignorant, sleaze.

    A line was drawn in the sand the minute Guy and Fresh back-stabbed the very council member who’s home they visited and called many times for advice in their first campaigns.

    Hoffman needs to stand like a wall more with Brenda and Dominic. If Hoffman does this and Guy and Emily are voted out than we have a chance of seeing a big improvement in our county council.

  20. go lakers
    go lakers says:

    Along with Greenwell being replaced by Pilago or Hecht.

    Almost forgot to add that to my election wish list.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    According to the HTH, Emily’s office submitted 10 (ten) emails for review for a full month’s activity. That’s 10 emails for a Council office’s communications.

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