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Sunday, June 7, 2015
Can OHA Keep Na'i Aupuni from Stealing $2.6M?
By Andrew Walden @ 11:01 PM :: 9204 Views :: Akaka Bill, Ethics, Greenmail, OHA

by Andrew Walden

How can the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) keep the next $2.6M from being stolen? 

After the Kanaiolowalu Roll Commission burned most of $3M on girlfriends, and old boys, OHA has cobbled together a new plan to satisfy the remnants of the Akaka Gang clamoring for more money to steal while pretending to create a fake Hawaiian Indian tribe. 

OHA's new three-party contract for "an election of Native Hawaiian delegates, 'Aha and ratification vote for the purpose of native Hawaiian self-determination", signed April 27, gives the "sponsor" Akamai Foundation a 5% cut of the action in exchange for ensuring that "Client" Na'i Aupuni doesn't steal the rest.

Na'i Aupuni was incorporated December 23, 2014.  Its "legal counsel" William Meheula worked unsuccessfully for years to force native Hawaiian into a fake Indian tribe via the Akaka Bill.

Na'i Aupuni's five directors have close ties to Kana'iolowalu.  They include, Pauline Namuo and Gerry Miyamoto of Ahahui Kaahumanu.  Mrs Namuo is the wife of Roll Commission Executive Director Clyde Namuo.  Other directors include J Kuhio Asam of Lunalilo Trust and Kealoha Ballestros and Selena Lehua Schuelke of Hale o na Ali'i o Hawaii.  Hale o na Ali'i leader Marilyn Khan received $10,000 in a single check from Kana'iolowalu.

Most Trustees were not optimistic, according to minutes of the February 26, 2015 OHA Board of Trustees meeting. Trustee Lei Ahu Isa "questioned the legality and allowability of using trust monies to fund Kana'iolowalu" and Peter Apo pointed out, "if we keep tying ourselves to this, we are going to get sued...." Trustee Hulu Lindsey cut to the chase, asking: "how will OHA watch the use of the money and ensure that it is properly spent and Na'i Aupuni does not come back to ask for more?" 

Burn me Twice, Shame on Me?

The "Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement between Akamai Foundation and Na'i Aupuni...pursuant to the grant agreement with OHA" provides that "in the event Client (Nai Aupuni) requests disbursements that are substantially different than as set forth in the budget, Sponsor shall exercise its sole discretion to determine if said requests comply with the Project purposes and are reasonably justified to satisfy Project purposes and if not Client agrees that Sponsor is not required to comply with said requests."

Unlike the Roll Commission, the Akamai Foundation is substantial enough for OHA to sue if they allow fraud.  But that kind of coverage doesn't come cheap.  The first dollar costs another $129,900.  Terms of the "Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement" provide that Akamai Foundation receives "5% of the $2.598 million from OHA...upon use by Client of any Project grant funds...."

The fee apparently pays for the personal services of Akamai Foundation Chairman and Treasurer Louis Perez III.  Contract language requires: "Perform services by the Sponsor's Chairman/treasurer without involvement of other employees of Sponsor or its officers and directors...."  In spite of this, Akamai Foundation employees are contracted to "knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waive such qualification and promise to abstain from participation as a delegate."  Is it legal to contractually bar employees from running in a State-organized election?  The lawyers are silent.

The Na'i Aupuni website conveniently supplies a link to the Rice v Cayetano decision which prohibits the State of Hawaii, of which OHA is a department, from conducting racially discriminatory elections.  In case one wonders why, the website explains: "the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a semi-autonomous state agency and may not legally be able to oversee the delegate election process."

Na'i Aupuni apparently thinks this is good enough to gain an exemption from the Sunshine Law.  Its website informs the curious: "Na‘i Aupuni’s meetings are not public. Information is available on this site and Na‘i Aupuni will continue to provide information on the processes and decisions as they unfold."

Na'i Aupuni's efforts to pretend that they have discovered an escape hatch from the Rice v Cayetano decision are voluminous and laughable. The website reads:

“OHA agrees that Na‘i Aupuni has no obligation to consult with OHA or Akamai Foundation on its decisions regarding the performance of the Scope of Services.

“Na‘i Aupuni hereby agrees that the decisions of Na‘i Aupuni and its directors, paid consultants, vendors, election monitors, contractors, and attorneys regarding the performance of the Scope of Services will not be directly or indirectly controlled or affected by OHA."

No obligation to OHA?  This is entirely contradicted by the fact that OHA is a party to the contract.  Moreover, OHA's disgust at being robbed again and again by Kana'iolowalu led them to insist on contract language carefully "obligating" Na'i Aupuni to spend OHA's money and report back to OHA according to detailed terms of the contract. 

The End of the Akaka Tribe?

Contract language provides: "In consultation with OHA, this Agreement shall terminate if and when Sponsor and OHA determine that the objectives of the Project can no longer be reasonably accomplished....  Unclaimed Funds ... shall be returned to OHA."

An April 27, 2015 "Side Agreement" between OHA, Akamai, and Na'i Aupuni gives away $250K to Akamai for Na'i Aupuni "within five business days" and schedules another $276,250 "for Apportionment and Election Contract plus the Independent Election Monitoring Contract" plus $159,137.33, which along with the $250K, is pursuant to a $726,912 slush fund designated in the Nai Aupuni Projected Budget for "any attorneys fees, any other consultants, or if any category above needs additional funding." 

To abscond with more than this total of $685K, Na'i Aupuni would have to be allowed to break into the juicy $1,457,088 "Governance Aha Contract" which would also allow release of another $159K in slush funds.  Logically, that would require an election to first be held for Aha Delegates, but that depends on Trustees' willingness to hold the line on graft. 

The clock is ticking 

The Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement reads: "The duration of this agreement shall be from April 27, 2015 to ... December 31, 2016."  Minutes of the February 26, 2015 OHA Board of Trustees meeting state: "Na'i Aupuni expects election of delegates will take place in September, 2015." But as of early June, there are no electoral districts, no candidate registration process, no fundraising rules, and no qualifications for office.  And nobody can say who the registered voters are.  According to the Na'i Aupuni website:

Na‘i Aupuni has not yet decided on who is eligible to vote in the election of delegates and any subsequent ratification vote. The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission has developed a roll of Native Hawaiian voters that appears to have been accurately compiled through a verification process and sound methodology with the criteria set forth in Act 195, as amended. Na‘i Aupuni will likely utilize any roll certified by the Commission and potentially any other reliable lists....

Unsuccessfully fighting off efforts by the Grassroot Institute to obtain a copy of the Kanaiolowalu Roll, Roll Commission Chair and Right Star defendant John Waihee told the Star-Advertiser, June 5, 2015 registrations are still being taken, eligibility is still being checked and the list has not been certified.

Greenmail Beats Tribe?

With OHA greenmail campaigns gathering steam on the top of Mauna Kea and Haleakala, perhaps Trustees are simply growing weary of handing money out for a fake Indian tribe which never comes to fruition.  In the May and June, 2015 editions of Ka Wai Ola, only Trustee Haunani Apoliona beats the drum for the 'Aha.  But the message is polemical.  Apoliona hands her June, 2015 column space over to Winona Rubin who has a sharp message for activists:

"While chanting and marching are useful tools in demonstrations, yelling, negative sign waving, disruptive behavior and confrontation are a western practice that is offensive in our culture." 

In case any "disruptive confronters" didn't get the message, Rubin continues:

"If you are a potential candidate, please assess your own qualification honestly before running and if you fall short...please stop those premature ambitions now!"

Will OHA shut down the "ambitious" Nai Aupuni before it "prematurely" gets its hands on the $1,457,088 "Governance Aha Contract?"

Is greenmail finally coming into its own to replace tribal "ambitions" as a money-making strategy for OHA?

We will soon find out.

---30---

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