Across the nation, honest people (or, at least, people who expect that our public officials act honestly) are shaking their heads in a combination of shame and anger at President-Elect Trump’s compulsive lying and fascist contempt for any behavior considered ethical. Most appallingly, he openly thumbs his nose at the insistence that he must divest himself of his Trump business empire before taking the oath of office, or risk violating the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause (which prohibits U.S. officials from taking any sort of payment from foreign governments).
“When he takes the oath to uphold the Constitution he would be lying,” said Laurence Tribe, constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, in this Dec. 1, 2016 Huffington Post article. “He can’t uphold the Constitution, one of whose central provisions he would be a walking, talking violation of.”
Our incoming president may be an insult to our collective intelligences, but that doesn’t mean we should excuse such behavior everywhere. In fact, there are new openings in both the state Ethics Commission and the Campaign Spending Commission, which means you personally may one day soon be in a position to demand the highest ethical behavior from Hawaii officials and candidates.
The five-member Ethics Commission “addresses ethical issues involving legislators, registered lobbyists, and state employees [except for judges, who are overseen by a separate body],” according to a Jan. 6 news release from the state Judiciary. As for the Campaign Spending Commission, that panel oversees all political campaign contributions and expenditures in the state.
“Members of both commissions serve on a voluntary basis,” states the news release. “Travel expenses incurred by neighbor island commissioners to attend meetings on O`ahu will be reimbursed. Applicants must be U. S. citizens, residents of the State of Hawai`i and may not hold any other public office.”
The application deadline is Feb. 4. Those interested can get the application for both commissions here.
Image of Hawaii state seal: Sodacan/Wikimedia Commons