OHA Trustee Akina Responds to Attack by Rep. Kaniela Ing
Ing’s Bill Would Use Legislature to Target a Single Individual
News Release from Office of OHA Trustee Keli’i Akina, February 3, 2017
HONOLULU, HI- Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee-At-Large Keliʻi Akina, Ph.D., today addressed the news that Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui) will be writing legislation attempting to limit the right of a citizen to serve as or run for the elected office of OHA trustee if that citizen is a registered lobbyist.
“Within days of my call for an independent audit of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Rep. Kaniela Ing has announced plans to use the legislature to target me with a proposed law which could curtail my freedom of speech as a watchdog of State government,” Trustee Akina said.
“Rep. Ing has documented in a news release today that his proposed law will currently affect one and only one person in the entire state- me. Rep. Ing fails to realize that it is unconstitutional to enact special legislation to affect a single person or entity.”
(UPDATE: At the February 8 OHA Beneficiary Advocacy & Empowerment Committee
(BAE) Meeting, a motion to endorse Kaniela Ing`s bill targeting Trustee Akina was defeated with only three Trustees voting ‘Yes’ (R. Lindsey, Machado, Ahuna). In the BAE, it was voted that OHA will only supply comments on this bill to the Legislature, not an endorsement.)
Elected by 163,743 voters in November 2016, Trustee Akina took office in December 2016. His views as President of the Grassroot Institute, an independent public policy think tank, were documented and known to the public.
“State Ethics Laws and even OHA policy do not prohibit an OHA trustee from registering as a lobbyist,” Trustee Akina continued. “In keeping with the law, since my election, I have not and will not testify on any bills at the legislature that may directly involve OHA or OHA`s direct interests. In fact, the Executive Director of the State Ethics Commission has stated, ‘There is no conflict per se with Trustee Akina serving as President/CEO of a non-profit organization while also serving as an elected trustee of OHA,’ clarifying that there is no innate conflict between my two roles.”
“I registered as a lobbyist simply to disclose the fact that, as a citizen and the head of a public policy institute, I may spend a few hours each month in ways that may influence public officials. I am not a lobbyist in the sense of someone who is paid to promote a special interest or the agenda of an association. I head an independent public policy think tank that develops recommendations for improving Hawaii`s economy and government,” Trustee Akina said.
“It is astounding to think that- with all the issues confronting our state- an elected legislator would go through the trouble to draft this bill, which would curtail the liberty of just one individual. Rep. Ing`s action raises larger questions about who put him up to it and why. And I also wonder why they are second-guessing the voters who put me into office knowing what I stand for,” Trustee Akina concluded.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this news release are the personal views of Trustee Akina and may not reflect the views of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs or its Board of Trustees.
Keliʻi Akina, Ph.D., is a community leader who is known for the phrase he has coined, "E Hana Kākou" - Let's work together! Over the past several years as a public policy adviser at the legislative, congressional and international levels, Dr. Akina’s mission has been to preserve the Aloha Spirit by which native Hawaiians and people of all races are welcomed and encouraged to work together for a better future for all our keiki. He is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a nonprofit, independent think tank.
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BILL WOULD PUT LIMITS ON LOBBYISTS SERVING AS OHA TRUSTEES
Rep. Ing’s measure to prevent egregious conflicts of interest on board
News Release from Rep Mark K Ing, February 3, 2017
Honolulu, Hawaii – Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui, Chair of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs) has written and will be hearing legislation to prohibit registered and recently registered (within a year) lobbyists in the State of Hawaii from serving as or running for Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).
“We’re talking about a conflict of interest in its most egregious form. OHA Trustees are elected to serve the Hawaiian people, not push corporate agendas. We currently have one trustee who is paid by right-wing mainland advocacy groups who seek to dismantle Hawaiian programs. You cannot ethically wear both hats.”
Ing claims that one trustee is still registered as a lobbyist and at the time of their candidacy for office pulled and filed nomination papers, got elected, and was inaugurated as a lobbyist. According to the State Ethics Commission website, the trustee re-registered as a lobbyist on January 31, 2017 and he remains an active lobbyist.
“Here’s someone who has publicly fought to end Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiian Homelands, and Native Hawaiian self-determination, who is now sitting on a board that’s tasked to help the Hawaiian people. If you follow the money, it all makes sense. But this is hewa and against the mission and vision of OHA.”
Ing claims the trustee is the President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which is funded by an extreme right-wing advocacy organization based on the mainland.
Ing has also previously introduced measures to reduce the influence of “Super PACs” corporate money in politics, but cites this issue as a higher level of bad government:
“We’re not talking about campaign donations here. This is mainland money directly lining the pockets of an elected official in order to influence policy. For legislators and other policy makers, this would be called bribery. My bill will end this double standard and ensure that all OHA trustees stand with their Hawaiian beneficiaries.” said Ing.
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VIDEO: Rep. Ward addresses H.B. 118 Amends the qualifications for election of OHA