Ethics complaints over rail votes dismissed

Published: Oct. 14, 2015 at 7:25 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 14, 2015 at 8:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ethics complaints over free meals and votes on the rail project have been dropped against two current and one former Honolulu City Council members.

Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Kobayashi and former member Donavan Dela Cruz were accused of accepting free meals at luxury restaurants from lobbyists supporting the Honolulu rail project. They were also supposed to report the gifts when they voted on the project.

But Honolulu Ethics Commission unanimously voted to drop the complaints after a secret meeting Friday.

Anderson and Kobayashi announced the decision in a news conference Wednesday.

"We are very pleased today to announce that we have been exonerated on all charges by the Honolulu Ethics Commission," Anderson said.

Their lawyer was former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who said Ethics Commission Executive Director Chuck Totto inaccurately counted up the meal costs for each member.

"The way Mr. Totto came up with the $200 was to take a bill and divide it equally by the number of people that were there," she said. "You cannot tell me Councilwoman Kobayashi consumed the same amount of wine because she hardly drinks anything."

Kobayashi said the complaint was a "cloud" hanging over her head, and she's happy to see it resolved.

"I'm glad we stood by our values and our principals that we've always lived with, that we've done nothing wrong," she said.

What's still unclear tonight is why the commission would meet secretly, without its chairman or executive director present on such a major issue.

A separate case involving former City Councilman Todd Apo remains active before the commission.

To see the commission's summary judgment on the issue, click here.

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