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Advisory Opinion No. 24

This is in response to your written request dated September 24, 1970, for our advice on whether or not a violation of the standards of conduct for employees is involved in the situation described below.

We understand the situation to be as follows:

1. Employee X, Electrical Inspector, is a member of the Hawai‘i Chapter of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, hereinafter referred to as "Association;"

2. The Association is made up of electrical inspectors from the City and the private sectors, and electrical contractors and journeymen electricians as associate members;

3. The reason the Association is financing Employee X's trip is to invite the 1972 Southwestern Section conference to Hawai‘i;

4. The Association proposes to finance Employee X's trip to the annual conference to be held in Long Beach, California;

5. At present Employee X is Second Vice President of the Southwestern Section of said Association and slated to be President of said Section in 1972;

6. Not all electrical contractors or journeymen electricians are members of the Association.

Based on the foregoing facts, we are of the opinion that these activities would violate the standards of conduct contained in the City Charter. Section 11-101 of the Charter, relating to standards of conduct for City employees, provides:

1. No employee ... of the City shall:

(a) Accept any gift, favor or service that might reasonably tend to influence him in the discharge of his official duties ...

The financing of Employee X's trip to the said Association's annual conference is to be made by the Association. The funds are made up of dues or contributions from members of the Association of which journeymen electricians and electrical contractors are associate members. Thus, the financing of Employee X's trip is made up of membership fees from journeymen electricians and electrical contractors against whom he has a duty to enforce the City's electrical code.

In addition all of the journeymen electricians and electrical contractors within the City are not members of the Hawai‘i Chapter. This situation may give rise to a charge that in all probability Employee X may be partial to the electrical contractors and journeymen electricians who are associate members in said Association as against electrical contractors and journeymen electricians who are non-members if the financing of the proposed trip is accepted by Employee X.

In view of the foregoing, we conclude that the receipt of the financing of Employee X's trip by the Association maybe considered a "gift" or "favor", the acceptance of which might reasonably tend to influence the subject employee in the discharge of his official duties. Consequently, such gifts or favors are proscribed by Charter Section 11-101(a).

Dated: Honolulu, Hawai‘i, October 2, 1970.

ETHICS COMMISSION
Very Rev. Robert R. Mackey, S.M., Chairman

Last Reviewed: Thursday, May 23, 2002