Hawaii Corporation Counsel Statement on County Employee Internet Scandal… County Investigating CURRENT Sites Being Visited

I just noticed that the Hawaii County Office of the Corporation Counsel has put out the following message regarding the internet scandal:

Why investigative reports must remain confidential. A recent media article discussed a Council Member’s request to obtain information from the County’s Department of Data Systems concerning alleged internet abuse by County employees. The Department of Data Systems declined to provide the Council Member the records, explaining that an ongoing investigation into this alleged abuse is ongoing. Unfortunately, subsequent blog entries and even an editorial written by a journalist professional characterized the conduct of County employees as pervasive. We understand how erroneous conclusions can be drawn based upon the fact the County cannot make these records public at this time.

Investigation into internet abuse in the County began in mid-2008 and has been ongoing. One employee has already been disciplined and his case remains pending with an administrative agency. There are other potential cases that remain under investigation. This is what the County can disclose at the moment:

1. The records compiled by the Department of Data Systems are highly sensitive, and have not been shared outside of their department with any County department, agency or person, other than on a need to know basis. This is because many County officer and employees (including the Council) may be called as witnesses in future cases.

2. If the records are released prior to formal charges (administrative or criminal) being filed, the integrity of the case and investigation may be compromised. When I served as a prosecutor, such unlawful premature release of information would be cause for dismissal or other disciplinary action.

3. These records will ultimately be released, once all investigations are completed.

Some may wonder what the harm is if these records reveal only past internet sites visited. The reason this could harm future cases and the County is because:

1. The investigation includes sites currently being visited in order to establish trends. This also involves forensic examination of hardware and downloading of saved content.

2. Disclosing the records would identify particular individuals who may not be eventually charged administratively or criminally.

No doubt the public is entitled to view these records. The sole issue is one of timing. Once the investigations are completed and final decisions are made on administrative and criminal charges, the records will be released. The County is committed to conducting and completing thorough investigations in all allegations involving employee misconduct. We are also committed to being fair to all persons involved in the investigation, and not do anything that would jeopardize its integrity.

As ever, if you have any comments or questions on the above or any matter, please feel free to email our office at [email protected], or call me at (808) 961-8304, extension 118.

(Wasn’t my blog that called it pervasive and what’s a journalist professional?  I thought they were professional journalists)

2 Responses

  1. I reckon we may never see these records.

  2. Journalist professional? Is that like a “Royale with cheese”?

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