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Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Ethics: Rowena Akana Fined $23K--Trouble Began with OHA-Funded Scheme to Dig Up Kawaiahao Church Graveyard
By News Release @ 9:55 PM :: 3064 Views :: Ethics, OHA

Ethics Commission v Rowena Akana -- Findings of Fact

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission Feb 5, 2019

Counts 1-6: Acceptance of Prohibited Gifts and Failure to Report Gifts by the Statutory Deadline (Payments of Legal Fees)

17. Ms. Kawananakoa and Respondent Akana had several discussions in 1993 – after Respondent was elected as an OHA Trustee – but did not really speak again until approximately 2006 or 2007. At that time, Respondent was an OHA Trustee and Ms. Kawananakoa, through her then-attorney James Wright (“Mr. Wright”), requested an in-person meeting with Respondent regarding the digging up of burial plots at the Kawaiaha‘o Church in connection with the renovation of a reception hall financed by OHA. Ms. Kawananakoa had a relative whose burial plot would be affected by the renovation.

18. After learning of the Akana v. OHA BOT lawsuit in or around 2013, Ms. Kawananakoa directed Mr. Wright to contact Respondent Akana to obtain more information about the lawsuit and its background. Mr. Wright called Respondent Akana and informed her that Ms. Kawananakoa had asked for information about the case. Respondent Akana provided the information requested by Mr. Wright on behalf of Ms. Kawananakoa.

19. Mr. Wright discussed the information he received from Respondent Akana with Ms. Kawananakoa. Mr. Wright thereafter informed Respondent Akana that Ms. Kawananakoa believed the case involved important issues and that she was willing to pay for Respondent Akana’s legal fees.

20. Respondent Akana accepted Ms. Kawananakoa’s offer and thereafter accepted payments for Respondent’s legal fees relating to the Akana v. OHA BOT lawsuit and the BOT’s counterclaim against Respondent.

21. As an OHA beneficiary who has over many years maintained a personal interest in OHA business, Ms. Kawananakoa had interests that may have been affected by official action or lack of action on the part of Respondent Akana.

22. Respondent Akana disagreed in her testimony that Ms. Kawananakoa had interests that may have been affected by Respondent’s official actions as an OHA Trustee. However, Respondent Akana – in her Answer – admitted that “[Ms.] Kawananakoa had interests that may have been affected by official action or lack of action on the part of Respondent Akana.” …

29. On April 30, 2015, the Circuit Court entered a Minute Order granting Counterclaimants’ Motion for Summary Judgment – concluding that Respondent Akana did, in fact, breach her fiduciary duty to OHA – and entered a written Order to the same effect on June 3, 2015. …

32. On February 9, 2017 – while the Akana v. OHA BOT lawsuit was ongoing – Ms. Kawananakoa filed her own lawsuit against OHA: Kawananakoa v. Lindsey et al., Civ. No. 17-1-0231-02 ECN/DEO, filed February 9, 2017 (hereinafter “Kawananakoa v. OHA lawsuit”).

33. The defendants in the Kawananakoa v. OHA lawsuit were OHA Trustee (and former OHA Chairperson) Robert K. Lindsey, OHA Chief Executive Officer Kamana‘opono Crabbe (“CEO Crabbe”), and OHA….

Upon consideration of the evidence and the arguments of counsel, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission hereby determines and concludes that the following administrative fines for each of the violations of HRS chapter 84 that occurred are appropriate and shall be assessed:

a. Counts 1-4 (Failure to Report Gifts): $500 each ($2,000 total)

b. Counts 5-6 (Improper Acceptance of Gifts): $500 each ($1,000 total)

c. Counts 8 (Expenditures – Premier Club): $500

d. Counts 10, 12-28 (Expenditures – Cable Television): $500 each ($9,000 total)

e. Counts 29-36 (Expenditures – Cable Television): $1,000 each ($8,000 total)

f. Count 38 (Expenditure – Food): $17.80

g. Count 39 (Expenditure – Food): $268.59

h. Count 40 (Expenditure – Food): $31.94

i. Count 41 (Expenditure – Food): $61.83

j. Count 42 (Expenditure – Food): $66.49

k. Count 43 (Expenditure – Food): $39.48

l. Count 44 (Expenditure – Food): $31.01 82

m. Count 45 (Expenditure – Food): $20.73

n. Count 46 (Expenditure – Food): $43.66

o. Count 47 (Expenditure – Food): $25.00

p. Count 48 (Expenditure – Food): $0.00 This expenditure was disallowed by OHA.

q. Counts 49-50 (Expenditures – Political Contributions): $500 each ($1,000 total)

r. Count 51 (Expenditure – Contribution PAC Event): $1,000


(a) An administrative fine in the total amount of TWENTY-THREE THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY-THREE CENTS ($23,106.53) is hereby imposed against Respondent Akana;

(b) Respondent Akana shall forward to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission a check in the amount of TWENTY-THREE THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY-THREE CENTS ($23,106.53), payable to the State of Hawaii, no later than sixty (60) days from the date of this Decision and Order; and

(c) Pursuant to HRS § 84-32(c), the Commission shall issue a complaint and refer this matter to the Attorney General, who may exercise any and all legal or equitable remedies available to the State, including the recovery of prohibited gifts of legal fees of TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN DOLLARS AND FIFTEEN CENTS ($21,513.15) accepted by Respondent in violation of HRS § 84-11.

PDF: Ethics Decision Feb 5, 2019 (89 pgs) 

PDF: Ethics Complaint Feb 5, 2019 (94 pgs)


  • Rowena Akana, 2009: -- Princess Kawananakoa believes that Kawaiaha’o church officials and construction workers dug up and disturbed the burial plot of her ancestor Queen Kapi’olani and those of other Hawaiian families.  She also alleged that the church skirted state burial laws, with the help of state officials, to fast-track the construction of the project.  “This project is about greed, not God,” Princess Kawananakoa said in an e-mail to The Advertiser. “I must take this to court because I cannot allow the desecration of Hawaiian graves to continue.”  In April, church officials denied that the Kapi’olani plot had been impacted.  However, a month later, they said they were unsure whether construction work had dug into the Kapi’olani plot.
  • PBN May, 2011: Kawaiahao Church misses OHA grant reporting deadline -- “The grant provisions said that the funds, $1 million, were to be used on the multipurpose building,” Namuo said….
  • Feb 25, 2018: OHA: Does Draft Audit Blow Blackmail Scheme?
  • Sept 12, 2018: Ethics Commission Outlines Charges Against OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

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