Maui State Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran will resign by the end of October, according to local media outlets.
The surprise resignation comes in the wake of ethical concerns regarding a possible conflict of interest regarding looming lawsuits connected to recent Maui fires.
The early August fires ravaged Maui earlier this month, killing at least 115 with hundreds more still unaccounted for.
The Honolulu Civil Beat reported that questions were raised after Keith-Agaran was featured in a flier for a community discussion on “Maui Wildfire Impact” with Takitani Agaran Jorgensen & Wildman and several other law firms.
Keith-Agaran has reportedly sent copies of his resignation letter to Gov. Josh Green, Senate President Ron Kouchi, Hawaii Democratic Party Chair Dennis Jung and Maui Democratic Party Chair Stephanie Ohigashi.
Senate President Kouchi said of the news: “Although not privy to the reasons for his decision, Senator Keith-Agaran’s reasons must have been thoughtfully and carefully considered.”
His letter read: “It has been my privilege to have served in the state Legislature representing the people of my Central Maui Communities in Senate District 5 and former House District 5.”
The Daily Wire noted that as “vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, legal experts said that his political office might give him non-public information that could help him if he took on any cases related to the Maui fires.”
Keith-Agaran is a partner in the Maui law firm of Takitani Agaran Jorgensen & Wildman, one of the firms positioning to litigate claims related to the Maui wildfires.
The Honolulu Civil Beat noted that Democratic Party officers will provide Green with the names of three potential replacements for Keith-Agaran. State law gives Green sixty days from the date the Senate seat becomes vacant to appoint a replacement from that list.
Speaking of his intent to resign, Keith-Agaran said: “I believe that this decision best serves the interests of the Maui people especially given what they have gone through over the last three weeks, and what they continue to experience,” in a follow-up statement.
“As we know, the Maui community — including members of my extended clan who lived and worked in West Maui — have suffered tremendous losses, including losing loved ones. Some, to this day, are still not identified or found,” he added. “The choice for me has always been and will always be my family and community, and this decision is consistent with that overriding value.”
The Daily Wire reported that lawsuits have already been filed. Maui County has filed a suit against the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), alleging “intentional and malicious” mismanagement of power lines which caused or greatly facilitated the destruction of Lahaina.
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