Governor will let financial disclosure bill become law

Gov. Neil Abercrombie will let a bill that requires the disclosure of financial statements by members of 15 state boards and commissions become law — without his signature.

The governor sent a letter Monday to Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joe Souki after conducting a detailed analysis of SB 2682, his office said.

Abercrombie had placed the bill on his intent-to-veto notice to legislators last week to allow for more review time.

In the letter, Gov. Abercrombie stated:

“When it comes to the role of volunteer participation in the policy and decision-making process of governing in a democracy, the power of government to intrude in people’s lives becomes far more than a technical issue. It goes beyond labels of left and right. The whole rationale of democratic governance, after all, is to ensure the protection of individual rights, particularly in matters of personal information and dignity.

There are tough issues to be considered in this bill with competing values: Legitimate inquiry into possible conflicts regarding the public interest versus legitimate concerns about personal information on family, finances, credit history and medical records becoming cannon fodder in political battles.

It seems reasonable in these circumstances then, to allow this bill to become law with the object of reviewing the disclosure documents to determine what information serves the public interest, what limitations are relevant and most importantly, what constitutes conflict. The issue then, is not about disclosure, but to what end and by what means.”

Last week, KHON2 learned two University of Hawaii Board of Regents members submitted resignation letters to the governor, citing the bill.

John Dean wrote, “I do not have an interest in making my family’s personal financial information available to the general public,” while Saedene Ota said the bill “exposes my finances to the general public. This information is personal and confidential.”

State Sen. David Ige, who will face Abercrombie in the race for governor in August’s primary election, threatened to call a special session if Abercrombie vetoed the bill.

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