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Arthur Brun should resign from County Council

The crimes detailed in the 29-page federal indictment of County Councilmember Arthur Brun describe an almost unfathomable betrayal of the public trust and a deeply troubling commentary on the personal damage that can be done by addiction.

Brun is an elected public official who happens to be vice chair of the council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee. For such a public official to be the mastermind behind a drug-distribution ring involving at least 11 other criminals defies credulity.

We understand why Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami and County Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro focused on the personal damage that can be done by addiction in their statements reacting to Brun’s arrest. We believe, however, that both Kawakami and Kaneshiro should have realized that this drug ring goes vastly past the realm of a personal drug problem. This is wholesale betrayal of the island.

Understandably, the arrest and the subsequent description of the pathetic Brun in chains and jail garb at his arraignment in Honolulu brought cries of public outrage and demands that Brun be banished from the County Council. A petition started circulating on that quickly attracted several hundred signatures to a demand that Brun be ousted.

A review of the relevant County Charter sections, unfortunately, reveals that, unless Brun chooses to resign his seat, there is precious little that can be done, as a practical matter, to get him out of county government.

The most salient lesson in this is that the Charter Review Commission and the County Council need to reexamine the charter to try to find a way to deal with a situation like this. Understandably, the idea that a councilmember might run a drug ring and, in the process, strike a police officer with his vehicle during a traffic stop and then flee, only to toss a bag of illegal drugs from his car as he ran, was probably inconceivable to the drafters of the charter.

This thought process has to begin from the justice reality that, as genuinely evil as the crimes Brun allegedly committed are, he has not been convicted and is entitled, as are we all, to the presumption of innocence until he pleads or is found guilty.

Brun is, as a practical matter, in his official capacity as a sitting councilmember, beyond the reach of the County Charter and Hawai‘i statutes for several reasons.

First, nothing in the descriptions of the duties of councilmembers in the charter prohibits them from engaging in criminal activity unless it involves financial or related crimes in which the county could be seen as the victim. Not even sexual or domestic assault will require that a member be thrown off the council. Running a meth ring is no different.

The county Code of Ethics, enforced by the Board of Ethics, likewise is powerless to address the crimes of which Brun is accused. The code and the board can only focus on conflicts of interest, financial misconduct, failure to disclose business connections and using one’s office for personal gain. Nothing in the Brun indictment intersects that kind of misconduct.

The Board of Ethics is empowered to go to court to impeach a councilmember, but only if the person has violated the Code of Ethics. Again, Brun’s alleged crimes do not meet that standard.

Brun can’t be recalled because the charter limits the recall power to elected officials serving four-year terms in office. There are only two of those, Kawakami and Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. The Charter Review Commission, several years ago considered, but rejected, a charter change to make it possible to recall county councilmembers, who serve two-year terms.

Section 23 of the charter does make it possible for citizens to petition a court to impeach a county official for malfeasance or misfeasance. Brun has not been convicted of either, and only stands accused right now.

Moreover, Section 23 requires that the impeachment be initiated by petitions signed by 5% of the registered voters on the island. That would mean about 2,200 signatures. They must be written signatures affixed to legally constituted petition forms. Online petitions are irrelevant.

The signatures would have to be gathered and then individually verified by the county clerk and then the court. A court proceeding would then be initiated. All of this would take time. Brun’s current term in office ends in December. Even if he were removed, the council would then have to go through the process of naming a successor.

In other words, the reality is that there is precious little that can be done to oust Arthur Brun unless he voluntarily resigns. We hope he will do so, but we understand that such an action may not be at the top of his to-do list at this time. Plus, he may need the salary money to fund his defense. We can all only seethe about these facts.

We share the frustration of Kaua‘i residents with this state of affairs. It should not be possible for an accused meth-ring leader to remain on the County Council. However, there is really only one available approach — changing the charter. The Charter Review Commission must begin an examination of how to do this immediately, even if that means scheduling daily emergency meetings until a solution is found.

The frustration that the county is impotent in the face of alleged misconduct so brazen and damaging is palpable. We share it. But if Kaua‘i County is an entity committed to the law, we are limited to changing the applicable laws so nothing like this can happen in the future.

  1. Dan Freund March 2, 2020 6:41 am Reply

    Well said. Let our frustration with the present fuel change in the future so it won’t happen again!

  2. the big kahuna March 2, 2020 7:04 am Reply

    Should other members of the council been forth coming during the last election regarding Arthur’s Meth usage. Apparently many knew of his drug use and condition yet allowed voters to make uniformed votes.

    Did the Mayor know? Did others on the west side know? Allowing criminals to be part of the Kauai council should never be allowed and should have been called out during the last election.

  3. Patrick Flores March 2, 2020 7:24 am Reply

    This is a very eye opening commentary, a very sad statement of where lacking our current regulations are. Very doubtful that Councilman Brun will muster the integrity to resign.

    Patrick H Flores, Wailua Houselots

  4. Hotmess March 2, 2020 7:57 am Reply

    Next term clean house, all new council members….if you back up a rotten egg then you are also a rotten egg.

  5. MisterM March 2, 2020 8:06 am Reply

    Well, how about we get the Charter ammended? How hard is that? Add language to make it easier/faster to remove convicted criminals or anyone under criminal indictment. Anyone drawing a salary should be subject to quick removal, especially an elected official. Also, should include retroactive wage garnishment from the time the crime began (not just when it was discovered).

  6. Steve Martin March 2, 2020 8:22 am Reply

    Gardenislandnews … Let’s not let any other County, state, city, or entity read this column. We will become the laughing stock of the world with our third world government thinking. What a joke. Council members who make poor decisions and no one accountable for their actions. Really! Wow let’s write some new laws regarding all of these problems today and implement tomorrow. All of this is like I have said in the past we need to hire professional people for the job, not continually elect friends and family for the results we are getting.

  7. curious dog March 2, 2020 9:19 am Reply

    Anyone read “Sunny Skies, Shady Characters” by James Dooley? Apparently corruption runs rampant in the state. Why should we think KI is any different?

  8. Makani B. Howard March 2, 2020 10:30 am Reply

    Once you are elected into office, sounds like you don’t get ousted unless you resign.

    What an easy job! Of course they made it that way! Where else can you get a job that you can hold unless you resign? Kauai government, of course!

    This needs to change, quickly. If the elected officials don’t change this rule, now, they are all just as bad as Brun!

  9. Lawaibob March 2, 2020 10:37 am Reply

    Kagawa should go next. If you can’t show up to meetings, you shouldn’t be on the council.

  10. Joe Public March 2, 2020 11:26 am Reply

    His brain cells are to fried to do anything right for Kauai. He is going to continue to draw a check until he is voted our on the next election.

  11. Peter Sit March 2, 2020 11:26 am Reply

    In our judiciary system; you’re only guilty when the court proof that without a doubt you’re found guilty of such a crime?
    Mr. Brun should be given the opportunity to proof himself and not necessary be thrown underneath the bus!

    1. Really? March 2, 2020 5:16 pm Reply

      Mr. Sit, you’re right. He “might” not be guilty of Meth dealing as the trial hasn’t begun, but he is guilty of running from a traffic stop, hitting an officer and putting 2 people in the hospital because he was driving on the wrong side of the road – and that’s just in the last few months. No one is throwing him under the bus. He’s hiding there all on his own; collecting a paycheck too, of your money.

  12. Joe Kauai March 2, 2020 3:50 pm Reply

    This really is a sick tragedy on so many levels. Betrayal of trust, VP-Public Safety Board, producing ZOMBIES down by the beach… Sick that this is way too common… Where do you draw the line? What opportunity besides ice does the island provide our young people to earn enough to buy a house in Kilauea if you don’t have money? No excuses…NONE… but .. Can you imagine being Arthur Brun right now?? His life is over, UNLESS PROVEN NOT GUILTY !! But overall, hit the cops, federal drug charge and not to forget the head on crash… He need a vacation , but he had so much going for him …… WE NEED TO WAGE WAR ON METH & FEED THE METH DEALERS TO THE SHARKS !!!!

  13. Rebecca H March 2, 2020 5:11 pm Reply

    Its time to drug test all elected officials.

    1. Ed cullen March 3, 2020 4:15 am Reply

      Most intelligent and productive comment offered to date.

  14. Exposed March 2, 2020 5:39 pm Reply


    Many people have tried to expose the public corruption on Kauai and have been retaliated against.

    Anthony Sommers in KPD blue.

    K.Pinkerton and he was badly beaten, harassed, threatened, called crazy, and nearly murdered.

    The Kauai Serial Killer cover up.

    All the unsolved murder and missing people.

    The audits that has proven public corruption in many county and state departments.

    And the list goes on.

    There has been nonprofit organizations involved and also sitting council members involved in retaliation through leaked info by the powers on Kauai and the state of Hawaii.

    The cover up of Aurero Moore’s murder. He was set up by people who are in positions of power or held positions of power.

    The murder of Lauren Kagawa.

    The negligent manslaughter of Koucher.

    The spiking in KPD and KFD onetime.

    The cheating scandal in KPD that’s being covered up.

    The corruption in the judicial system on Kauai.

    The corruption in the coroners office.

    The lists goes on and on.

    But no one cares and business as usual on that F-ed up ROCK.

  15. Steve Martin March 2, 2020 7:32 pm Reply

    Lie detector test will prove who knows what. It’s all beginning to stink. We elected these people and we should be able to get rid of those who are making the stink. It must be that since nobody in the county is their boss and responsible for their actions then we the people should act as needed.

  16. Amused March 2, 2020 7:38 pm Reply

    Like it or not, he’s innocent until proven guilty. An indictment is not a conviction.

  17. LJ March 2, 2020 9:09 pm Reply

    I think any elected public official should be ousted after committing ANY felony. There is an obvious conflict of interest when criminals are allowed to make laws…

    As for Mr. Brun, he should have been ousted and in jail for his FIRST felony, then maybe the subsequent few could not have been committed in the first place.

  18. Debra Kekaualua March 3, 2020 8:29 am Reply

    How many times on Kauai, were any of you attacked by a bailiff, then four sheriff? In my case, the story was falsely stated on the TV media that night, and I became a ‘victim’. I was directed by KPD to go to the P.A. office. Because of Prosecuting Attorney heavy calendar, my case went to P.A. Oahu, already entrenched in stolen mailbox fraud, my case then went to Maui P.A., a Kaua’i B&R Attorney was delegated to my case, but that young man died, whereby my case went under the ‘proverbial’ rug. Where is the justice against all the obvious in our faces, actors, supposed leaders. The last four decades, there has been a 900% increase in strange activity, behaviors of the upper crust, both COK and state judiciary administrations, military, including but not limited to cushy kinds of governor, or mayor individuals.

    Read Benish, The Fifth Seal! It outlines Kauai activity more than, any other of the true kauai story books, known and reminders of who is continuing to play this GAME OVER notion, by those who have been paying Attention. The time has come for your legacy to flatten, just as they try to take Brun to the cleaners.

    Whats that saying about “fooling all of the people all of the time”?

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