Missing master keys lead to an expensive security fiasco at the state Capitol building

The problem arose on opening day of the legislative session
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 6:10 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 12:58 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an expensive security fiasco at the state Capitol, state lawmakers are spending $250,000 to change every lock in their offices because master keys have gone missing.

The problem arose on opening day of the legislative session when security camera video showed a state Senate staffer going in and out of the offices of House members to deliver opening day lei.

Although the gesture was well meaning, several House members HNN spoke with said they were surprised that anyone outside of their staff had access to their offices ― and to the potentially sensitive material that it may contain.

Longtime investigator reporter and political watchdog Ian Lind said the security concerns are legitimate.

“If someone is able to get in the building and move around relatively freely into people’s office, it’s not only a risk to the property that’s there and the information that’s there but it’s also a risk to the individuals who are there at odd hours of the day and night,” said Lind.

Only one Senate staffer was seen on camera going in and out of the offices, but House members said they have no idea how many of these master keys have been given out and who has them.

That’s why they’re spending $250,000 to re-key the office doors for all 25 senators and 51 House members, they said.

Not everyone, though, is on board.

“I think it’s a waste,” countered House Rep. Bob McDermott, who represents Ewa Beach.

McDermott said there are smarter ways to solve the problem and better uses for the money.

“You can buy a lot of security with $250,000. We can hire three more guards for a couple of years to take care of that,” he said.

“The only thing we have here is coffee and snacks and that’s it. That’s all you should have here. You shouldn’t keep money in here.”

McDermott also thinks lawmakers should just ask the staffer where he got the key and who else has one.

“Get to the point of the problem, find out who has key ... not throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said.

Senate and House leaders had no immediate comment.

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