Kaniela Ing is chairman of the State of Hawaii Legislature’s House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs during the regular session of 2017. His committee held hearings on many bills.
On Friday February 10 a notice was published that a hearing would be held on Tuesday February 14 on several bills. Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D., submitted written testimony on Friday regarding two of those bills, long before the deadline for submitting testimony 24 hours before a hearing. On Tuesday afternoon the public files of submitted testimony on those two bills were made available on the Legislature’s website. Dr. Conklin noticed that his testimony was missing from the files of testimony for both bills. Perhaps on rare occasions a clerk might make a mistake and inadvertently forget to include someone’s testimony. But what are the odds that two such mistakes might be made, on the same day, for two different bills, and in both cases the testimony was submitted by the same author!
Chairman Kaniela Ing’s motives are abundantly clear for disappearing Conklin’s written testimonies, because both of them were in strong opposition to Ing’s views.
One of those bills, whose sole introducer was Kaniela Ing, would enact into law a racial restriction on candidacy for election to a state government office. In year 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (Rice v. Cayetano) that it is unconstitutional to have a racial restriction on who can VOTE for OHA trustees. Later in year 2000 there was a followup lawsuit (Arakaki v. State of Hawaii) regarding the racial restriction on who can RUN as a candidate for OHA trustee. The U.S. District Court in Honolulu ruled that racial restrictions on candidacy are also unconstitutional; and that ruling was later upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Conklin’s testimony in opposition to this bill pointed out that chairman Ing is too young to remember the court decisions from 2000, but that’s no excuse for a committee chairman who should have access to legal advice before introducing a truly stupid bill.
On Tuesday night, after seeing that his testimony had been disappeared from the files on both bills, Dr. Conklin sent an email to Speaker of the House Joe Souki and all the other members of the House. The email provided attachments of each of the two disappeared testimonies so that House members could read them; complained about the censorship and requested that the testimonies be placed into the published files where they should have been all along; and asked for the perpetrator to be reprimanded. On Wednesday the testimony files for both bills had been updated with Conklin’s testimonies included.
Full text of Conklin’s email to Speaker Souki and the other 51 Representatives is copied below.
But even though the testimony files were corrected on Wednesday, major damage was already done by the suppression of the testimony from Friday through Tuesday. That’s because on Tuesday the committee made its decisions on the bills in the absence of the missing testimonies. The committee voted unanimously to pass the bill with the unconstitutional racial restriction still in it; and Conklin’s disappeared testimony was the only one warning about its unconstitutionality.
So there are two different ways to deal with committee chairman Kaniela Ing and with the members of his committee, depending on how responsibility is apportioned:
(A) If committee chairman Kaniela Ing had in fact prevented committee members from seeing Conklin’s testimony and if the members were unaware of the bill’s unconstitutionality, then Ing’s deception is responsible for committee members violating their oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States. In this case the committee has an obligation to (1) pass a motion of no-confidence in chairman Ing for deliberately misleading (i.e., lying to) them; and (2) ask the entire House to pass a resolution of censure against Ing for suppressing public testimony; and (3) to rescind the committee report and the referral advancing the bill to the next committee.
(B) If the committee actually did have access to Conklin’s testimony before passing the amended version of the bill, or if any committee members were aware of the unconstitutionality even without reading Conklin’s testimony, then the committee members are just as guilty as Kaniela Ing for knowingly and intentionally passing an unconstitutional bill, in violation of their oath of office.
Three items follow: Conklin’s email to Speaker Souki and all representatives in the House; a blog posting that provides full text of the unconstitutional bill and full text of Conklin’s disappeared testimony on it; a blog posting that provides full text of the other bill on which Conklin’s testimony was disappeared.
Email sent to Speaker Souki and all members of the State of Hawaii House of Representatives on Tuesday night, February 14, 2017:
Aloha Hawaii members of the House of Representatives,
Written testimony that I submitted on two different controversial bills has been suppressed. My testimony has been left out of the public files, probably because the committee chairman doesn’t like it. I don’t know whether the committee members were denied the chance to read my testimony, but for sure the public has not had a chance to see it. One of the bills actually contains a change to state law which would impose a racial restriction on candidacy in an election — a racial restriction which two federal courts previously ruled unconstitutional.
I have attached both testimonies to this email to be sure you can read them.
In both cases I submitted the testimony on Friday February 10, through the Legislature’s website, for a hearing to be held on Tuesday February 14. In both cases I immediately received the automated email confirmation that the testimony had been received. But on Tuesday February 14, when the files of testimony were posted on the bills’ status webpages, my testimonies were not included.
Censoring the record of public testimony should be regarded as a serious ethical offense, and should bring a reprimand to the person responsible for the censorship. The public files of testimony, for both bills, should be edited by inserting the disappeared testimony in the same place where it should have been originally published.
Perhaps a mistake or accident could account for one incident of disappeared testimony; but when there are two such disappeared testimonies, both by the same author and on the same day, it is clearly a matter of intentional censorship. If one of the testimonies might be suppressed because it could be regarded as disrespectful, there is no such excuse in relation to the other one.
The committee is the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs.
The bills are:
HB1297 RELATING TO HAWAIIAN SOVEREIGNTY. Provides that the State shall support a model of sovereignty and self-governance chosen by the Hawaiian people that complies with federal and state law.
HB118, HD1 RELATING TO HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS. Amends the qualifications for election or appointment as an OHA Trustee to include that a person is not registered as a lobbyist within one year of filing nomination papers.
My two testimonies are attached to this email.
Thank you for reading the testimonies and for demanding that they be included in the public files of testimony for the two bills.
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
46-255 Kahuhipa St. Apt. 1205
Kane’ohe, HI 96744-6083
tel/fax (808) 247-7942
Blog containing full text of the bill HR118 that would enact a fully litigated unconstitutional racial restriction on who can run as a candidate for state government office, and full text of Conklin’s disappeared testimony
Blog containing full text of the bill HB1297 which provides that the State shall support a model of sovereignty and self-governance chosen by the Hawaiian people that complies with federal and state law, and full text of Conklin’s disappeared testimony