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POLICY AND PROCEDURE FOR RELEASE AND PUBLICATION OF FORMAL ADVISORY OPINIONS

 

1.         Purpose. This policy describes the general process by which the Honolulu Ethics Commission (“Commission”) will publish and transmit formal advisory opinions to: (a) someone who has requested advice, (b) the subject of a complaint (i.e., respondent), (c) the appointing authority or Council, (d) the complainant, and (e) the media or other persons who request a copy of a formal advisory opinion.  The Commission may follow different procedures as the circumstances warrant.

 

2.         Policy. The Commission acknowledges that the public has an important right to know whether government officers and employees follow the city ethics laws, as well as whether the Commission is carrying out its duties to foster government integrity.  The Commission also understands that government officers and employees have a right, although limited, to privacy in their official conduct.  In addition, the Commission desires to protect the confidentiality of those who request advice, bring to the Commission’s attention possible ethical misconduct or witnesses to possible misconduct.  It is the intent of the Commission to balance these rights and interests when it determines whether to redact any information from a formal advisory opinion.

 

3.         Formal advisory opinion resulting from a request for advice.  

 

a.                   The opinion will be reviewed and redactions made in compliance with Chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”), and published on the Commission’s web site.

 

b.                  The formal advisory opinion will be transmitted to the requester as soon as practicable after the opinion is rendered by the Commission and signed by the Chair. 

 

c.                   Requests for a copy of the unredacted version of the opinion from anyone other than the requester are generally prohibited by HRS Sec. 92F-13 (frustration of legitimate government purpose and unwarranted invasion of personal privacy) and relevant opinions of the Hawaii State Office of Information Practices (“OIP”). 

 

4.         Formal advisory opinion resulting from a complaint where the Commission finds no violation of the standards of conduct.

 

a.                   The opinion will be reviewed and redacted in compliance with Chapter 92F, HRS, and published on the Commission’s web site. The Commission may redact from the formal advisory opinion information that may lead to the improper identity of the complainant, a witness or the respondent.

 

b.                  The formal advisory opinion will be transmitted to the respondent and complainant with redactions, if any, as soon as practicable after the opinion is rendered by the Commission and signed by the Chair.

 

c.                   Requests for a copy of the unredacted version of the opinion are generally prohibited by HRS Sec. 92F-13 (frustration of legitimate government purpose and unwarranted invasion of personal privacy) and relevant opinions of OIP.

 

5.         Formal advisory opinion resulting from a complaint where the Commission finds a violation of the standards of conduct.

 

a.                   The formal advisory opinion will be transmitted to the complainant and respondent with redactions pursuant to HRS Chapter 92F, if any, as soon as practicable after the opinion is rendered and signed by the Chair and published on the Commission’s web site.

 

b.                  The opinion will be transmitted to the respondent’s appointing authority, or the Council in the case of a councilmember, as soon as practicable after the opinion is rendered and signed by the Chair.

 

c.         If the Commission finds that information identifying the respondent may be released, it shall do so in the published opinion without a request from any person.

 

(1)               Generally, information identifying the respondent may be disclosed if the interest in informing the public of the Commission’s review and analysis and the respondent’s misconduct outweighs the respondent’s privacy interest in maintaining the confidentiality of his/her conduct. 

 

(2)        If the Commission determines to identify the violator in the published opinion, it will inform the violator of the intended disclosure ten days before publication.

 

6.         Disclosure of formal advisory opinions requested by other government agencies.  The Commission may release the unredacted version of a formal advisory opinion where the request to do so satisfies the requirements of HRS Sec. 92F-19.

 

 

ADOPTED:

 

 

By:       /S/                                                                                 9/12/12

            CHARLES W. GALL, Chairperson                             DATE

            Honolulu Ethics Commission    

 

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 18, 2012