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 â€” everything on the Data Systems database. Â As you may know, Kupahu is the Council aide to Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason. Â 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. Â I have also been informed that Kupahu has been writing and issuing checks out of the Pahoa Council Office for campaign related activities. Â I have urged my source to file a petition with the Board of Ethics. Â (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. Â Here it is in full:
“(a) Officers and employees of the County, while discharging their duties and dealing with the public, shallÂ 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 aÂ proprietary manner or for personal purposes without proper consent.
(2) No person in a supervisory capacity shall engage in personal or business relationships withÂ 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 officerâ€™s or employeeâ€™s official position to secureÂ or grant unwarranted privileges, exemptions, advantages, contracts, or treatment, for oneself or others;Â including but not limited to the following:
(1) Seeking other employment or contract for services for oneself by the use or attempted use of theÂ officerâ€™s or employeeâ€™s office or position.
(2) Accepting, receiving, or soliciting compensation or other consideration for the performance of theÂ officerâ€™s or employeeâ€™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 orÂ a person or business whom the officer or employee inspects or supervises in the officerâ€™s orÂ employeeâ€™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 onÂ committees or from making statements or taking action in the exercise of the officerâ€™s legislativeÂ functions. Every officer shall file a full and complete public disclosure of the nature and extent of theÂ 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? Â I mean, you’re not to blame. Â 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. Â It’s okay. Â Thanks for answering my questions.”
Unless this person wants to reveal his or her identity, I don’t intend to. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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 prohibitionÂ against a member of your campaign staff working for the County orÂ volunteering. Of course using County resources for campaign purposes isÂ strictly prohibited,” Ashida said.
Obviously, the Code of Ethics needs to be revised. Â 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. Â 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.