OHA TRUSTEE PETER APO TO PAY $25,000 TO RESOLVE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION INVESTIGATION
News Release from Hawaii State Ethics Commission, Aug 31, 2017
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) today announced a Resolution of Investigation of Office of Hawaiian Affairs (“OHA”) Trustee Peter Apo.
In its investigation, the Commission considered allegations that Trustee Apo violated the State Ethics Code by using OHA resources, and his position with OHA, to advance his private business interests.
The Commission concluded that Trustee Apo likely violated Hawaii’s Fair Treatment law and Conflicts of Interests law, and agreed to resolve the matter in a settlement that included Trustee Apo’s payment of a $25,000 administrative penalty to the General Fund.
The Resolution is available here.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee’s Alleged Fair Treatment and Conflicts of Interests Violations
From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, August 30, 2017 (excerpts)…
3. In addition to being a Trustee, Trustee Apo owns a private business: he is the sole proprietor and sole owner of The Peter Apo Company, a limited liability company that provides services in business consulting, music, and journalism. Among other things, The Peter Apo Company provides cultural consulting services to other businesses regarding Hawaiian culture and traditions.
4. Between January 1, 2014, and June 1, 2016, on dozens of occasions during official OHA business hours, Trustee Apo e-mailed his Trustee Aides about The Peter Apo Company private business matters. These included dozens of e-mails directing one of his Aides to schedule and attend meetings with The Peter Apo Company clients; invoice The Peter Resolution of Investigation No. 2017-2 Page 2 Apo Company clients; and prepare training materials. Trustee Apo also sent emails to the Aides’ OHA accounts requesting they conduct research for paid columns submitted to Civil Beat, an on-line journalism site.
5. On dozens of occasions, Trustee Apo’s Trustee Aides performed work for The Peter Apo Company. Some of this work was done on one of the Trustee Aide’s personal time, and the Trustee Aide was paid with The Peter Apo Company funds. For other work, including research for Civil Beat articles, the Trustee Aides performed this work during official OHA work hours and were, therefore, paid using OHA funds.
6. Between January 1, 2014, and June 1, 2016, Trustee Apo’s regular practice was to forward all e-mails originally addressed to his official OHA e-mail address to a private e-mail account; when Trustee Apo would respond to these e-mails, he would do so from his private e-mail account, rather than from his official OHA e-mail account. E-mails sent from this private account contained contact information for The Peter Apo Company. As such, on innumerable occasions from at least January 1, 2014, to at least June 1, 2016, individuals who e-mailed Trustee Apo at his OHA e-mail address would receive a reply e-mail containing contact information for The Peter Apo Company.
7. Between January 1, 2014, and June 1, 2016, The Peter Apo Company provided consultant services to DTL, a limited liability company that provides culturally based strategic planning, community outreach, and branding. DTL is affiliated with WCIT Architects (“WCIT”) and shares office space, personnel, and officers with WCIT. Both DTL and WCIT are part of the Kuhikuhi Pu‘uone Collaborative, which has a contract with OHA to develop a conceptual master plan for OHA’s Kaka‘ako Makai property. In other words, The Peter Apo Company was a contractor to DTL, which (as part of the Kuhikuhi Pu‘uone Collaborative) in turn had a contract with OHA.
8. On or about April 30, 2015, the Board of Trustees of OHA met to consider OHA’s position on Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope (“TMT”) Observatory. OHA Trustee Hulu Lindsey moved that the Board of Trustees rescind its support for the TMT Project and oppose the selection of Mauna Kea as the site for the project. Trustee Apo moved to amend this motion to state only that the Board of Trustees rescinds its support of the project but not that it opposed the selection of Mauna Kea as the site. The amended motion passed. In further discussion, Trustee Apo recommended cultural training for the TMT Observatory Organization.
9. A few weeks later, Trustee Apo offered to provide the aforementioned cultural training. On or about July 2, 2015, Trustee Apo – on behalf of The Peter Apo Company, DTL, and WCIT – e-mailed Henry Yang, chair of the TMT Observatory Organization, and solicited private work for The Peter Apo Company by offering consulting services in the area of native Hawaiian cultural training. …
One of the Trustee Aides was privately paid by The Peter Apo Company. …
Trustee Apo is a paid consultant for DTL. As part of the Kuhikuhi Pu’uone Collaborative, DTL and its partners, including its affiliate WCIT, regularly appeared before the OHA Board of Trustees to provide information on the services it was providing under contract to OHA. Trustee Apo took part in Board discussions and provided suggestions and recommendations to the group. By doing so, he took discretionary action affecting his private employer and likely violated the Conflicts of Interests Law. (The Commission could find no indication in the minutes of these meetings that Trustee Apo ever disclosed his relationship with DTL.)
Further, Trustee Apo played a significant part in the vote concerning the TMT. Subsequent to the vote, and acting as an OHA Trustee, he recommended that the TMT Observatory Organization receive cultural training. On behalf of The Peter Apo Company, DTL, and WCIT, Trustee Apo then approached the chair of the TMT Observatory Organization and recommended that he provide such training. The Commission believed that these actions likely violated both the Fair Treatment Law and the Conflicts of Interests Law….
read … Entire Report
Link: Statement from Peter Apo
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HNN: …Other trustees, including Collete Machado, said it was a clear conflict with his elected position.
"That was the most shocking," Machado said, referring to the Kaka'ako development issue. "For me, that was the biggest crossing (of the) line. I was so surprised."
Machado says the trustees will likely discuss further sanctions against Apo, who did not answer questions on Thursday, instead electing to issue a statement saying he never intended to violate the ethics code.
"I accept responsibility for my errors," read Apo's statement. "I apologize to OHA beneficiaries and employees, and to my fellow OHA trustees."…
CB: Apo is no longer a columnist for Civil Beat.
SA: OHA trustee Apo fined $25K for ethics breach
read … Sanctions