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by Kasey Leavitt, staff writer


“A reputation is easy to create, but hard to change, so decide what kind of reputation you want.” This was the advice of Ed Case, 54, former Hawai‘i congressman and 2006 candidate for senator, who spoke before an intimate group of 15 students Sept. 20.

Dressed casually in an aloha shirt, khaki pants, and loafers, Case held a refreshingly candid discussion focused on ethics in politics and political public relations. Hosted by HPU’s Public Relations Student Society of America, the audience in the second-floor conference room of the First Hawaiian Tower included students from both communication and political science concentrations.
Case, who’s teaching a graduate political communications course at HPU this semester, began his speech much like a classroom lecture. “It’s important,” he said, “for people to discuss ethics in politics for two reasons….The government needs to reflect how we [voters] are, and we need to trust our government to make tough decisions.”

Case, a Democrat, conceded that while there are some laws governing ethics in politics, there is no definite code of ethics handed down to every politician. He believes that “ethics comes down to how you live your everyday life.” He added that we all have our ethics tested every day, from cheating on a test, to being unfaithful in a relationship, to stealing, and that as we progress in life, the ethical challenges we face will be even greater. He added that being ethical is a challenge because sometimes unethical people get ahead first, but it all comes down to how we want to live.

“ Ed Case’s speech was very concise,” said Brandi Boatner, president of the HPU chapter of PRSSA. “The goal was to have him focus on ethics, since September was National Ethics Month for PRSA, and he did just that. He did not talk too much about his own ethical practices, but he did address the good and bad aspects of life in politics. I think he did a very nice job,” Boatner concluded.

Case ran against Senator Daniel Akaka in the 2006 Democratic Primary for the U.S. Senate. He was unsuccessful in the primary election, but he still has a passion for politics and said that he would like to run for the Senate seat again.

Case began his career in law more than 25 years ago as a law clerk, first, and then a practicing attorney. He began his involvement in politics more than 20 years ago,as a legislative assistant to former Congressman and Senator Spark Matsunaga. Case’s first election win was a seat on the Manoa Neighborhood Board, which led him to the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives and the U.S. Congress.

In closing the discussion, Case responded to a question about whether politicians are held to an unfair moral standard.

“ No,” he replied. “The people have a right to expect higher standards of our politicians, and as politicians, we must accept those higher standards because we have the power to influence lives, both for good and bad.”

While Case says he doesn’t mind the extra scrutiny, he does think that sometimes people forget that politicians are human, too. Like regular folk, they have good days and bad days and make mistakes. In his case, he feels his past failings have only made him a better man and politician.

In the interim between Senate elections, Case is practicing law at Bays Deaver Lung Rose and Baba.



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