Senate Co-Chairs Respond to Confirmation Story of Feb. 28

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The Senate, State Of Hawaii, State Capitol. Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

March 3, 2003


*TO: Ms. Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter Online

*FROM: Senators Carol Fukunaga and Donna Kim, Chairs; Senate ECD and TSM Committees

*RE: Response to “Senate Democrats In Snit, Delay Confirmation of Governor’s Cabinet” article on Feb. 28, 2003

The article concerning Ted Liu’s confirmation hearing contains several inaccuracies and misrepresentations of what occurred on February 27, 2003. The first and perhaps most important point is the reason for the deferred action. Mr. Liu had asked for and was granted an extension on filing his financial disclosure form with the Ethics Commission; he advised our committees that the forms we requested would be submitted after February 28th.

A number of members specifically requested time to review Mr. Liu’s ethics filing, as well as his responses to the committees’ questions, prior to committee action on his nomination. Mr. Liu was informed of the reasons for deferring final action on his nomination prior to the hearing.

Secondly, the article stated “the move surprised the more than 100 people who showed up at the hearing. …” It appears that the author read the testifiers list only: out of 89 people who submitted testimony, only nine were present to speak. Furthermore, conference room 229 will not accommodate 100 people; and there were various empty seats. At best, 30 people were present at the hearing in support of Mr. Liu.

The purpose of the confirmation hearing is to determine whether any circumstances might impede Mr. Liu’s performance of his departmental responsibilities. If questions are raised about Mr. Liu’s background, he should be given an opportunity to deny or explain any lapse. This he did for some of the responses he submitted. The deferred action is in no way a reflection on his qualifications or ability to perform his job but a means of being thorough. Surely, as reporters you would want nothing less.

As for the courtesy visits to all Senators who will votes on his nomination. a question was raised about confirming appointees on the Senate floor without having met them. The fact that this is the first-ever occurrence of this action should be taken as sign of renewed vigor in our senatorial duties.

”’*Editor’s Note: As is the rule at, any and every response or rebuttal is cheerfully published without editing. However, a few comments: I talked with Sen. Donna Kim the day the story appeared and promised to detail her concerns about this article in my next political column, but this is in lieu of that as it is more detailed. Specifically to the response, consider the following: 1) Mr. Liu asked the state Ethics Commission, not the committees as the letter infers, for an extension on filing his financial disclosure because of his very recent appointment by the governor. In a letter, the state Ethics Commission had granted his request with a new due date of Feb. 28. If “a number of members specifically requested time to review Mr. Liu’s ethics filing” they did not indicate that publicly during the Feb. 27 hearing. The chairs did however ask Mr. Liu for his financial disclosure and he responded that he thought it was his obligation to file that form directly with the Ethics Commission first. 2) As to the number of people who actually showed up at the hearing, it should be noted that the hearing lasted for more than 2 hours and that during that time, as with other hearings on bills or involving confirmation, several people left before being called upon to testify. The co-chairs say 89 people submitted testimony — they neglected to mention all 89 were in support of the nominee. As for the accommodations in Room 229, veteran hearing observers can recall when the room has been jam-packed with standing room only inside and outside in excess of 100 persons. Hawaii Reporter agrees that “the purpose of the confirmation hearing is to determine whether any circumstances may impede” the conferee’s performance and responsibilities. Questions and answers at that hearing did not present any such impediment. If this first-ever occurrence is a sign of “renewed vigor” in senatorial duties, applauds the chairs and looks forward to more vigor by more committee chairs on the budget hearings and remaining issues.”’