HonoluluMayor Kirk Caldwell has been cleared of any ethical or legal violations by the City Ethics Commission, following an investigation over the funding and activities of the Mayoral Transition Committee, an independent, non-profit organization formed by supporters of the mayor.
"I am gratified that the Commission found that I did nothing wrong while transitioning into the office of the Mayor," Caldwell said. "Frankly, I was surprised that there was even an investigation to begin with, as the Mayoral Transition Committee followed the traditional practices used by our mayors and governors for as long as any of us can remember."
The funds raised by the Mayoral Transition Committee were used to manage transition activities, interview and vet job applicants, orientation of the Mayor’s new team members, stage an inaugural luau event for supporters, staff and community members, and other similar activities.
In the report and ruling, the Ethics Commission recommended the creation of clearer guidelines for such organizations in the future, noting that there are ambiguities surrounding their organization and practices.
Attorney Lex Smith, Founder and President of Mayoral Transition Committee, also commented on the ruling saying, "The Mayoral Transition Committee, and those who voluntarily chose to contribute to it, complied fully with all existing laws, rules and regulations. The Committee will continue to fully comply with all such laws, rules and regulations. As for the newly detailed guidelines that the Ethics Commission is releasing within this opinion, we need to look at them more closely, but we clearly welcome a wider discussion on proposed rules in order to clear up any ambiguity surrounding future transition events for government officials."
Smith also pointed out that the Ethics Commission has never made similar demands on any prior mayor who held inaugural events; nor have such demands ever been made on any previous governor. He noted that such committees and activities are also common practices employed by incoming presidents, including Barack Obama.