CIRCUIT COURT UPHOLDS ETHICS COMMISSION’S RULING AGAINST FORMER OHA TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
From Hawaii Ethics Commission, Sep 25, 2019
In February, the Ethics Commission ruled that former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana committed forty-seven violations of the State Ethics Code, stemming from her acceptance of prohibited gifts, failure to file gifts disclosure statements, and use of her Trustee Allowance to pay for her home cable television service, political donations, and food for herself and staff, among other things.
The Commission imposed an administrative penalty of $23,106.53 and referred the matter to the Attorney General for further action.
Akana appealed that ruling, and Circuit Court Judge James Ashford rejected Akana’s arguments.
The Court’s Order is available here: Rowena Akana’s Order and Final Judgment.
* * * * *
Judge Ashford Rejects Claim that OHA is Immune from Ethics Oversight:
Quote From Court Order:
First, Appellant argues that the Commission lacks the authority to regulate an Office of Hawaiian Affairs ("OHA") trustee's exercise of powers, and that the Commission exceeded its authority and jurisdiction in proceeding against Appellant for violations of HRS Chapter 84, the State Ethics Code. That argument is rejected.
The State Ethics Code applied to Appellant. There is no dispositive comparison or analogy between the facts in this case and the facts in Boyd v. Hawaii State Ethics Commission, 138 Hawai'i 218, 378 P.3d 934 (2016), on which Appellant relies. Appellant has not shown any conflict of law, including through her reliance on HRS §§ 10-4(3), 10-4.5, and 10-16, and Appellant's assertions of OHA's exclusive authority have not been established. Appellant also relies on Kealoha v. Machado, 131 Hawai'i 62,315 P.3d 213 (2013); while Kealoha limits the court's role in supervising OHA trustees' acts, it does not support Appellant's arguments regarding the Commission's authority....
* * * * *
CB: Court Affirms Ethics Panel Ruling On Rowena Akana