OHA Committee Acknowledges It Has No Authority to Discipline Trustee Keli‘i Akina for Speaking Out Publicly
News Release from OHA Trustee Kelii Akina PhD, Nov 8, 2019
(HONOLULU, HI) - In a victory for Trustee Keli‘i Akina, an OHA committee tasked with investigating complaints made against him under the flawed Trustee Code of Conduct issued a report conceding that OHA has "no recourse” to discipline him, and closed the matter. The context was criticisms Trustee Akina made publicly over the level of transparency at OHA, as evidenced by delays in the audit for fraud, waste and abuse.
"I have stood up for the beneficiaries of OHA and the citizens of the state of Hawaii and spoken out on their behalf," stated Trustee Akina. "It is my duty as a public official to challenge the system for the good of the people."
On November 7, the Committee delivered its one-paragraph report to the Board of Trustees, claiming that Trustee Akina "made misleading and untrue statements," while admitting it had no recourse to impose discipline on him.
Trustee Akina points out that the committee members met behind closed doors and he was never given the opportunity to discuss the matter with the committee or present any defense before they made the report public.
"I believe my reputation has been maligned by an unjust process and that may hinder the performance of my public duties,” Trustee Akina continued. “What OHA, as a public agency, has done could have a chilling effect on the willingness of other elected officials to use their first amendment rights to speak out for the people. A fair democracy cannot exist unless there is a competition of ideas. We must protect freedom of speech.”
“Therefore, I call upon the OHA board to reject its committee's accusation that I have made untrue and misleading statements and issue a public apology,” Trustee Akina said.
Attached is a copy of the report issued by the committee. It contains no indication of statements made by Trustee Akina, nor evidence of what the committee claims to be false or misleading.
E hana kākou! / Let's work together!
PDF: OHA P.I.G. Report
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.