Posted on Jan 16, 1998 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 98-01
January 16, 1998
Honolulu Ethics Commission Advisory Opinions

The Honolulu Ethics Commission (“Commission”) is not required to provide a copy of an Advisory Opinion pursuant to a public request for an Advisory Opinion about a specifically named individual because disclosure would frustrate a legitimate government function. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13 (3) (1993). Under the Revised Ordinances of the City and County of Honolulu and the Honolulu City Charter, the Commission is required to issue Advisory Opinions. The Commission is also required to segregate individually identifiable information from its Advisory Opinions, where possible, and make those segregated opinions available to the public.

When an Advisory Opinion about a specifically named individual has been requested, no amount of segregation can protect the privacy interests of that person because the requester already knows who the Advisory Opinion is about. Such a public disclosure would chill the Commission’s ability to solicit candid information in the future and impair the Commission’s ability to investigate and render advisory opinions regarding claims of unethical behavior. When the Commission receives such a request, the OIP advises making copies of all its segregated Advisory Opinions available to the requester, who is then free to choose which Advisory Opinions he or she is interested in.

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