OHA Majority Targets Trustee Akina
News Release from Office of OHA Trustee Kelii Akina, June 20, 2019
HONOLULU, HI- Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Keli‘i Akina confirmed today that the OHA Board has targeted him for his efforts to achieve greater transparency and accountability at OHA. At today’s Board meeting, the majority Trustees convened in a closed-door executive session to discuss complaints against Trustee Akina.
The primary complaint faults Trustee Akina for publicly criticizing a Board decision delaying an independent forensic audit of OHA and its subsidiary LLCs. Trustee Akina publicly described that decision as a step away from transparency and accountability.
According to the OHA Trustee Code of Conduct, Board members who disagree with Board decisions are prohibited from discussing their opposition in public. Otherwise, the Board could not “speak with one voice.” Such a prohibition is a violation of Trustee Akina’s freedom of speech as an elected official, and prevents him from serving constituents effectively.
Additionally, the closed-door executive session is in violation of Hawaii’s Sunshine Law, because it would conceal this matter from OHA beneficiaries and other interested parties. Therefore, Trustee Akina requested that the discussion take place in open session.
“I have demanded that any allegations against me be discussed in full view of the public,” Trustee Akina said. “I welcome the opportunity to defend my actions on behalf of OHA beneficiaries and state taxpayers.”
In addition to fighting for a thorough and timely forensic audit, Trustee Akina has spotlighted OHA’s use of trustee slush funds and wholly owned LLCs used by OHA to circumvent the state Sunshine Law and Procurement Code.
Other OHA board members have also faulted Trustee Akina for pointing out that OHA is a state agency rather than a sovereign body that can make its own rules, such as imposing a duty on dissenters to stay quiet.
“I hope that my colleagues on the Board see this as an opportunity to champion the importance of freedom of speech to the democratic process,” Trustee Akina said. “To that end, I asserted my right under the Sunshine Law to request that all Code of Conduct discussions today take place in open session.”
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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 was elected to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees in November 2016.