Ethics Complaint Alleges Private Prison Hid Lobbying Payments Made to Doug Chin.

On January 4, 2018, Karen Chun filed a complaint with the Hawaii State Ethics Board alleging that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) aka Core Civic neglected on four occasions to report that they were paying Attorney General Doug Chin to lobby on their behalf.  That complaint was later followed up by a more formal sworn complaint.

Chun alleges that CCA’s oversight in not reporting money paid for Chin’s lobbying was to prevent the public and the state senators from having full information on Chin’s lobbying activities during his vetting and confirmation process.

CCA operates the Saguaro private prison at a cost to Hawaii of $45 million in 2016.

AG Chin was confirmed in January of 2015. Four months after his confirmation, in April of 2015, CCA submitted amendments to their four filings for 2013 and 2014 add that they paid $68,748 Chin to lobby for them.

Chin was appointed to Attorney General and confirmed in January 2015. His lobbying history was supposed to be public. It was hidden from the public during his entire vetting and confirmation process,” states Ms. Chun.

From 2008 to 2010, four Hawaii prisoners died after being involved in incidents occurring at Saguaro. There have been constant complaints of poor oversight and Saguaro has been the subject of investigations by journalists.

Doug Chin has defended the Department of Safety in blocking journalists from obtaining information on deaths and injuries of prisoners in CCA’s custody. Mother Jones details their unsuccessful attempts to pry information out of the State.

A day after Chun initially emailed her complaint to the ethics complaint, Chin stated he will announce Sunday whether he would be stepping down from his position as Attorney General.

Facts of the complaint:

CCA filed their Lobbying disclosure for May 1 – Dec 31, 2013 without mention of any money paid to Doug Chin. Originally filed – 1/31/2014

They then filed the  Jan 1 – Feb 28, 2014 lobbying disclosure – again without mention of money paid to Doug Chin.  Originally filed – 3/27/2014.

Once again the filed for the period of Mar 1 – Apr 30, 2014 somehow forgetting to include money paid to Doug Chin.  Originally filed – 5/30/2014.

And for the fourth time the Lobbying Period – May 1 – Dec 31, 2014 report omitted money paid to Doug Chin. Originally filed – 1/12/2014.

Chin was appointed and confirmed to Attorney General in January 2015.

On April 6th, three months after Chin’s confirmation, CCA came back and amended all four disclosures to reveal that they had paid over $68,000 to Doug Chin for lobbying on behalf of the private prison corporation.

Amended (to include Chin $27,500) – 4/8/2015
Amended (to include Chin $2,500) – 4/8/2015
Amended (to include Chin $7,500) – 4/8/2015
Amended again (to include Sabas $31,248, Chin $31,248) – 4/8/2015



Ige withdraws Ching nomination at the 11th hour

With the Capitol filled with red-shirted opponents of the Carleton Ching nomination to chair DLNR and voters glued to their Akaku and Olelo TV, the senate went into a long recess directly after President Donna Mercado-Kim called the Ching confirmation agenda item.

Speculation grew and an hour after convening, Kim announced that the governor had withdrawn the Ching nomination.

By that time there were 8,545 signatures on a petition asking the senate not to confirm.

Red-shirted opponents of the Ching confirmation wait to enter the Capitol building
Red-shirted opponents of the Ching confirmation wait to enter the Capitol building

We’ve been told that supporters of the Ching nomination may have had the votes to pass it but that there was just too much downside to going on the record with a public vote. Supporters knew this was an issue that would haunt them – especially after Ching messed up which he was sure to do.

Those voting no on the nomination had the possibility of vetos and defunding hanging over their heads.

We’ve heard that after the senators couldn’t figure out how to confirm Ching without going on the record with their votes, the Majority Leader, Sen. Kalani English prevailed upon the governor to withdraw his controversial nomination. This was a wise course of action given that few nominations engender so much controversy and split the senate so evenly.

UPDATE: Hawaii News Now is reporting that two yes votes switched to no at the last moment and the no votes had the majority 13-12 at the very end.

UPDATE 2: Reports from two different sources say that the yes votes switched as early as Tuesday night and that, in fact, the governor did not have the votes needed.  Even more reason to withdraw and save the senators voting yes from voter retribution.

Ige doesn't get that lobbyists make unethical appointments

In 1998, Gov Ige was accused of ethical breaches because he was both a lobbyist for a telecom company and a state legislator in a position to vote on telecom legislation.

Perhaps this explains his recent appointments of developer lobbyists to the #1 and #2 positions at Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).  Either he truly doesn’t “get” that he has created a conflict of interest or perhaps his intention is to thumb his nose at Hawaiians and conservationists and double down on former Gov. Abercrombie’s PLDC.

In 1998 the Star Bulletin wrote an article “Legislator shouldn’t be utility lobbyist”:

“Ige has registered with the city as a lobbyist but not with the state Ethics Commission. And, as co-chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, Ige has promised to allow co-chairman Wayne Metcalf to assume responsibility for matters relating to the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Hawaiian Tel. Ige pledges not to vote on matters that present a conflict.

However, all the maneuvering in the world by Ige to avoid the appearance of impropriety will not erase the impression that he was assigned to his present job at the phone company because of his position as a state senator. The interweaving of city, state and federal functions makes the confined activities that Ige prescribes for himself impossible to perform.

Senator Ige’s conflict is inescapable and unacceptable. His district would be better served by an engineer rather than a lobbyist.”

Gov Ige promised an “open door” and promised to consult community groups on his appointments.  But since a small cabal of advisors has isolated him from outside influence, these lofty promises seem to have withered and died.

Word is that Ige’s advisors are telling him not to listen to anyone besides themselves because he’ll impair his chance of re-election.

Newsflash Gov. Ige – it is these very advisors who have already set you on the road to be another one term governor.