Chamber of Commerce Hawaii hires son of Senate president

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s leading business advocacy group has hired a new lobbyist, the son of the state Senate president.

Chamber of Commerce Hawaii has hired 28-year-old Dan Kouchi to serve as its new assistant vice president for government affairs and alliances, which some state officials say could disrupt proposals to increase the state minimum wage, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

The chamber has been an outspoken opponent of proposals for minimum wage increases. Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, has introduced a new bill that would incrementally increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Democratic Senate President Ron Kouchi said he sees no problem in his son lobbying at the state Legislature.

“He’s got a job to do. I got a job to do,” Kouchi said.

When asked if his son might use family ties to influence state issues, Kouchi said “the last time I checked, I paid his tuition and paid for his braces, so I don’t see how he has something over me.”

The Senate president’s obligation “first and foremost” is to his caucus, he said.

Dan Kouchi did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

“Our business advocacy team tracks numerous bills and Dan, as part of the team, will be advocating at the county and state levels, including at the Legislature,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the chamber.

The public’s perception of the relationship could become an issue, depending on how the minimum wage measure proceeds, said Gary Hooser, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party.

“The failure to pass or the weakening of the minimum wage proposal will be blamed no doubt on the strength of the lobbying efforts of the Chamber of Commerce,” Hooser said. “People will inevitably connect the dots, rightly or wrongly, and those dots will lead to the Senate president.”


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,

  1. Wil Welsh January 30, 2019 10:52 am Reply

    Senator Kouchi’s family and connections have plenty of other jobs his son would do well in–but in the private sector with more distance from direct political influence. Or course, the senator would say his son wouldn’t influence him–what else could he say? A relative of a legislator as a lobbyist sounds like it should be disallowed in the first place, however difficult that would be in Hawaii’s interrelated community.
    But I’d encourage Senator Kouchi to take a broader view of the issue, recognize how compromising this appears and do what’s right. If he can’t, others should step up to spotlight the issue and encourage young Kouchi to look for a less political job. Senator Kouchi is a skilled politician, and you have to admire the way he verbally distances himself from his son’s potential political influence–but more than a politician, this is an issue where stepping up to the “statesman” level would be the wiser choice.

    1. Debra Kekaualua February 2, 2019 6:48 pm Reply

      sameo boys, like gasgate or further back the dismissed case of four year old lacey woolsey murder anini, where the detective authored, a book like a sequal to KPD Blue, Superferry chronicles, called The Fifth Seal by Benish. This case is unworthy of justice and i think that there is no closure for those parents and ohana that continue to grieve and know the truth to all that continues to be hidden, by these same kinds of politico seat switching, especially in the KPD

  2. harry oyama January 30, 2019 1:46 pm Reply

    Another example of Hawaii’s “old boys network” of nepotism infested with special selective hiring of family members, personal friends many unqualified for those high paying positions to pad their high three State over compensation pension plans.

    Just the same as former racist governor George Ariyoshi hiring exclusively those of Japanese ancestory for his entire State cabinet consisting of family members, personal friends and cronies all in high paying over compensation positions padding their high three State for life pensions making much more than you will ever make which all of taxpayers pay for.

  3. Debra Kekaualua February 2, 2019 6:31 pm Reply

    Thank you wil and harry for your Right On Points regarding nepotism, pillaging, corruption, two-tiered judiciary without jurisdiction, cok, dhhl, oha, governors, county councils, all department directors of this corporate u.s. politicomilitary dysfunction that has been clear for fifty years that ive been paying attention. It is mind blowing seeing these people in the spiritual setting, working the ends against the middle, most if not all religious organizations are nonprofit corporations 501c3. These church service attendees can even write off “tithes” when they show at these places of a God they obviously dont believe in, AND think they buying their way to heaven at the same time.

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