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Missing Master Keys Lead to Costly Security Fiasco at State Capitol

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — In a costly security fiasco at the state Capitol, state lawmakers are spending $250,000 to change every lock on their offices because the master keys are missing.

The issue arose on the opening day of the legislative session when security camera video showed a state Senate staffer walking in and out of House members’ offices to deliver lei on opening day.

While the gesture was well-intentioned, several House members HNN spoke to said they were surprised that anyone outside of their staff had access to their offices – and the potentially sensitive equipment it may contain.

Longtime investigative journalist and political watchdog Ian Lind said the safety concerns were legitimate.

“If someone is able to enter the building and move around people’s office relatively freely, it’s not just a risk to the property that’s there and the information that’s there, but it is also a risk for people who are there at odd hours of the day and night,” Lind said.

Only one Senate staffer was seen on camera walking in and out of the offices, but House members said they had no idea how many of those master keys were distributed and who had them. .

That’s why they’re spending $250,000 to rekey the doors to the offices of all 25 senators and 51 members of the House, they said.

However, not everyone is on board.

“I think it’s a waste,” countered house rep Bob McDermott, who represents Ewa Beach.

McDermott said there are smarter ways to solve the problem and better uses for the money.

“You can buy a lot of security with $250,000. We can hire three more guards for a few years to take care of it,” he said.

“The only thing we have here is coffee and snacks and that’s it. That’s all you should have here. You shouldn’t keep any money here.

McDermott also thinks lawmakers should just ask the staffer where he got the key and who else has one.

“Get to the heart of the matter, find out who has the key…don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.

Senate and House leaders had no immediate comment.

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