`Ano`ai kakou… As you may have heard in the media recently, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission has filed accusations against me that are inaccurate and politically motivated by my opponents who want to muddy up my reputation because this in an election year. I didn’t break any laws. I didn’t do anything I’m ashamed of. And I can defend everything.
I have explained (twice) to the Ethics Commission that I did not use my trustee allowance funds to pay for a “home security system,” an “iTunes gift card,” a “Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club membership,” along with other things they claim, yet they refused to listen.
I did buy the whole office lunch for a secretary that was leaving, but it wasn’t a party for myself and our fiscal department said it was an allowable expense.
I also sent Princess Abigail Kawananakoa flowers in the hospital when she suffered a stroke. Again, this was allowed under our existing fiscal policy.
The charges for internet and phone lines are permitted under our rules because I use them to communicate with OHA beneficiaries and staff while I’m working from home. OHA Trustees have been allowed to work from home since 1993.
OHA’s Administration verifies all of the trustee allowance expenses quarterly and will not release the allowance funds for the next year unless everything has been resolved. I received my Trustee Allowance check every year so this proves I did nothing wrong.
This Attack Is Politically Motivated
It is completely unfair for the commission to go back five years and dig up things they feel violates their rules. The State Auditor’s recent report indicated that several other Trustees and the CEO were clearly in violation of ethics law and yet I’m the only one the commission charged. This is so blatantly political.
The commission also claims I wrongly accepted $72,000 from Princess Abigail Kawananakoa and that I didn’t report it as a gift within their deadline. The truth is I never saw that money. It went directly to my attorney to pay for legal fees related to my lawsuit to bring transparency to the Board.
My attorney advised that because I was being sued in my official capacity, anyone could offer to pay my legal fees and therefore it is not a personal “gift.” However, he later recommended (after the reporting deadline passed) that I disclose the money “in an abundance of caution” and that’s what I did.
The Princess paid for my legal bills because she strongly supports the fiscal accountability I’ve been trying to bring to OHA. I am just one of the many Hawaiians the Princess has helped over the years.
The Ethics Commission is Being Used
There are three Trustees who strongly support the CEO. One of these Trustees filed this complaint against me to the Ethics Commission. My detractors at OHA have been fighting my efforts to clean up our agency for years. Now they have found an agency willing to help them create distrust and controversy against me in an election year. It’s obvious they are only trying to shine the light away from the current Attorney General & FBI investigation of OHA.
Aloha Ke Akua.