Ethics complaint filed on paid trips
Environmental and community activist Carroll Cox has filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission, contending that two elected officials should not have accepted gifts from religious groups to attend a convention in Argentina in 2006.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and state Sen. Norman Sakamoto said in their disclosures of gifts received that they traveled to the convention at the expense of other groups or individuals.
In his gift disclosure entries, Aiona said he received $1,440 from United in Prayer to attend the conference in Argentina and $2,195 from a Myles Kawakami for registration and lodging to attend the conference.
Sakamoto in his gifts disclosure entries reported receiving "more than $1,000" from Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church to attend the conference in Argentina.
Susan Yoza, associate director of the state Ethics Commission, said she could not confirm that Cox had filed a complaint because much of what the commission does is confidential.
But Cox gave the media copies of his complaint letters, in which he asserted the trips taken by Sakamoto and Aiona did not benefit the people of Hawai'i and violated the doctrine of "separation of church and state."
Aiona said through spokesman Travis Taylor that he believes he did nothing wrong in accepting the gifts or making the trip, nor did the trip or gifts violate any church and state separation doctrine.
Sakamoto did not respond to a request for comment.