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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ethics Commission chief under review

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dan Mollway

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The state Ethics Commission yesterday deferred a decision on the fate of its longtime executive director after meeting for hours with the official's lawyer.

Following the closed-door session, commission chairwoman Maria Sullivan said Dan Mollway remains the agency's top administrator, as well as its general counsel.

The panel is in discussions with him about the nature of his duties, she said, adding that malfeasance did not prompt the deliberations.

"Mr. Mollway has a long and committed tenure at the ethics commission, which is appreciated," Sullivan said, reading a carefully worded statement. "There is absolutely no issue of misconduct involved."

Mollway started at the agency as associate director in 1981 and was promoted to executive director in 1986.

Neither Sullivan nor Mollway's lawyer, Susan Ichinose, would describe what led to yesterday's meeting. Ichinose did say in an interview that the matters have been under discussion for months.

"There's no issue of misconduct, infraction or anything of that kind," Ichinose said. "That's why it's an ongoing discussion. It's not really a concrete issue. It really has just to do with the nature of his functions and responsibilities at the commission."

The talks could continue for several weeks, she added.

The commission met under a provision of state law that allows executive sessions "to consider the evaluation, dismissal, or discipline" of employees.

The private meeting was attended by deputy attorney general James Halvorson. Ichinose also participated in part of the session but Mollway, 62, did not attend. He has been on sick leave for more than a week, Ichinose said.

The meeting raised concerns for Jo Kamae Byrne, the chairwoman of Common Cause Hawaii who has long known Mollway.

"I have watched Dan Mollway work tirelessly to establish and maintain high standards for Hawaii's Ethics Commission. It is not an easy job," Byrne, who said she was speaking for herself, told the commission during a short public session. "I believe he should continue in his position as executive director."