You might have missed it (or maybe you did not get the invite), but on Wednesday, February 23 from 5 to 8:15 pm the Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce sponsored cocktails, pupu, and essentially a speed dating event with legislators.
The Capitol remains closed to the public because of the health risk associated with citizens attending and testifying in front of those same legislators. But apparently, this health risk does not extend to cocktail parties sponsored by business lobbyists.
According to the Chamber’s official invitation to Senators and Representatives, this “meet and greet” event is in an open-air facility within walking distance from the Capitol and provides legislators with “an opportunity to meet with Hawaii business leaders.”
Note: The invitation was clear that per ethics rules (or in order to be legal), there had to be a $25 cost to legislators.
Per the invitation, “Guests will be assigned to a table with a legislator, and every ten minutes the guests will rotate to a different table and a different legislator.”
Kinda like “speed lobbying” or “speed fundraising” depending on how you look at it – with 10 tables each legislator has the opportunity to connect with 100 “business leaders” and each of those leaders will likewise connect with 10 or more legislators.
Wow! What’s there not to like about this?
Think of the opportunity for these captains of industry to tell legislators how “It’s not a good time to raise the minimum wage (actually it’s never a good time wink wink) ”.
Think of the opportunity for legislators to tell business leaders, “I’ve got a tough campaign coming up and I could really use some help.”
The Capitol is closed to the public, yet legislators are going to walk less than a block away for cocktails and schmoozing with the Chamber of Commerce.
They can’t let the public into a public hearing, yet they can go to a “cocktail and speed lobbying party” where they discuss in person the same issues that the public is prohibited from discussing with them in person.
Sheesh. There ought to be a law.
Note: If you are a business owner who believes in putting people and the planet above profits, please consider joining the recently launched Chamber of Sustainable Commerce https://www.chamberofsustainablecommerce.org
They believe “We can strengthen our economy without hurting workers, communities, or the environment.”