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Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Court: Ethics Rules do Apply to OHA Trustees
By News Release @ 1:12 PM :: 1414 Views :: Ethics, OHA


News release from Hawai‘i State Ethics Commission, Jan 23, 2024

The Hawai‘i State Ethics Commission is pleased to announce a significant legal victory in Akana v. Hawai‘i State Ethics Commission, No. CAAP-19-0000668 (Intermediate Court of Appeals, January 22, 2024) (available at LINK).

The decision, handed down on January 22, 2024, reinforces the Commission’s commitment to upholding ethical standards and conduct for all state employees. The Commission previously charged former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana with violating the state code of ethics and imposed a $23,106.53 administrative fine.1

Akana appealed the Commission’s decision contesting, among other things, the applicability of the ethics code to an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.

The Hawai‘i Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission’s decision on all counts. Commission Chairperson Wesley F. Fong expressed gratitude for the court’s decision, stating “We are happy that the appellate court upheld the Commission’s decision in the Akana case. It shows that no state employee or state board member is above the state ethics law in Hawai‘i.”

The court decision marks a pivotal moment for the Commission, showcasing the resilience and effectiveness of its enforcement efforts. “The public can be confident in the Commission’s ability to address and rectify ethical concerns, contributing to a more accountable and transparent government,” said Fong.


1 The Commission’s order can be found at LINK.

SA: Akana vowed Tuesday to appeal to the state Supreme Court. “Our court system really needs to be overhauled,” she declared.


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