In listening to the Kauai County Council debate its proposed lobbyist registration bill, I finally understood why Councilman Gary Hooser always submits his legislative testimony on county letterhead.
By pretending that he's acting in his “official capacity,” when he's really representing his HAPA group, he can evade state lobbying rules.
It's just so fascinating that Gary has introduced this bill, trying to make it look like he's getting tough on lobbyists, when in reality, he himself is gaming the system.
Gary kept using the phrase “to influence government” while describing the role of a lobbyist.
Isn't that what he's been doing, flying over to the Lege to submit testimony on bills that reflect the mission statement, values and political goals of his HAPA group, but have nothing to do with the county agenda?
Isn't that what he's doing with his blog, and his guest commentaries, which are replete with calls to contact lawmakers? Isn't that what he's doing with the HAPA political candidate training academy?
Heck, Hooser is even quoted in The Garden Island — along with duly registered lobbyist Ashley Lukens of Center for Food Safety — on the deferral of a House bill involving school buffer zones. Why not ask one of our state representatives for a comment? What is Gary's connection to that bill, other than he and Ashley fed TGI the story?
Yet there he is, baldly trying to influence government, with his comment:
“I think we need to replace, statewide, some of these legislators with people who are more concerned about people’s health and the environment.”
Gary has also tried to take refuge behind the fact that he doesn't get paid as president of HAPA.
Still, as Council Chair Mel Rapozo noted, without specifically referencing Hooser:
“Just because you're not on the payroll doesn't mean you're not a lobbyist.”
Gary also wants to include a provision that would allow invited guests of the Council to evade registering as lobbyists. But Mel balked: “We could invite corporate lobbyists or attorneys and can have them up here as long as they want trying to convince the Council; he can buy us gifts, take us to dinner, etc., but because he's been invited, he's exempt from the law. That doesn't seem right.”
However, that loophole language remains in the amended bill that goes before full Council next Wednesday. It needs to be yanked.
Regardless of Gary's “official capacity,” it certainly seems that he and HAPA fit the lobbyist definition under this provision:
Each person who spends seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) or more of the person’s or any other person’s money, including, but not limited to, amounts spent on print, electronic, broadcast or other media during the reporting period for the purpose of attempting to influence legislative or administrative action or a ballot issue by communicating or urging others to communicate with with Kauai County public officials.
And certainly Gary could not accept another free trip to Switzerland, or Grateful Dead tickets, under this provision:
No elected official or official of an administrative agency shall solicit, accept, or receive, directly or indirectly, any gift, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing, or promise or in any other form, under circumstances in which it can be reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence the elected official or official of an administrative agency in the performance of the elected official’s or official of an administrative agency’s official duties or is intended as a reward for any official action on the elected official’s... part.
In other political news, it's election time at KIUC, with three spots open and five candidates running. It's easy to identify the best three: Jan TenBruggencate, the current Board chair who made a career of science journalism and is now devoting his retirement to community service; Mina Morita, the former PUC Chair who brings a wealth of experience to the position; and incumbent Calvin Murashige, the retired judge who is thoughtful, akamai and well-versed in utility matters.
Coop members would be lucky to have these three people on the Board.
At the recent candidate's forum, failed KIUC candidate Jonathan Jay tried to make a big deal out of KIUC's hydro projects in Wailua, claiming those diversions were “stealing water" from taro farmers downstream.
Per usual for the KKCR kooks, he's woefully misinformed. The only taro farmer down there is Adam Asquith, and he gets his water from another diversion, the East County Water Users Cooperative, which serves numerous small farms and the Hindu monastery – the one place on Kauai that is truly self-sufficient.
Jonathan and his fellow KKCR dj Felicia Cowden were all huhu about Jan's supposedly “aggressive” response to Jonathan's bogus claim. Yeah, anytime you call them on their bullshit, you're aggressive, angry, brain damaged or mean.
Nope, just tired of people who willfully misinform the public.
As for Felicia, she's obviously gearing up for another Council run, having elbowed poor Glenn Mickens out of his usual spot in the Council chambers so she can be the one who shows up on the TV camera.
She needs to give up her show, as it's a clear conflict of interest, just like Gary's presidency of HAPA while he's being paid as a Councilman. (Note I did not say "serving" on the Council.)