“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
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.