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Tuesday, April 30, 2024
OHA Above the Law? One Trustee Says 'No'
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 6:56 PM :: 1453 Views :: Ethics, OHA

Trustee Akina Voted NO on OHA’s Amicus Brief related to former Trustee’s Ethics Violations

News Release from Office of OHA Trustee Keli’i Akina, PhD, April 30, 2024

Honolulu, HI - On April 26, 2024, the Hawaii State Supreme Court denied OHA’s motion to submit an amicus brief in the matter of Akana v. Hawai‘i State Ethics Commission (CAAP-19-0000668).

At the Board of Trustees Meeting on March 5, 2024, Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey announced to the public that a vote was taken in closed executive session in which 8 trustees voted “yes” and 1 voted “no” to submit an amicus brief. Board Chair Lindsey identified the one dissenting vote as Trustee Keli‘i Akina, Ph.D. OHA’s amicus brief, which Trustee Akina opposed, argued that the Ethics Commission had no jurisdiction over OHA.

Trustee Akina said, “I am concerned that the amicus brief will be perceived as an attempt by OHA to evade accountability to state ethics laws and oversight. Courts have ruled that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a state agency whose leadership and employees are subject to the standards of conduct and behavior expected of all state personnel.”

Trustee Akina has stood for accountability and transparency since his election to the Office of Hawaiians in 2016 and 2020. He was instrumental in the production of a key report by CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) identifying fraud, waste, and abuse at OHA.

Link: Board of Trustees Meeting March 5, 2024 - The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA)

  *   *   *   *   *

OHA Back to Arguing it is Above the Law

Civil Beat April 29, 2024 (excerpt)

… in January how Rowena Akana, a former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, violated the state code of ethics for accepting $21,000 in illegal gifts and for inappropriate use of her spending allowance.

Akana used OHA money to pay for internet and cable TV service and food for herself and others. She was fined $23,106.

But Akana then took her case to the Hawaii Supreme Court, hoping to get a sympathetic audience for her novel contention that the Hawaii State Ethics Commission does not have jurisdiction over OHA. And now OHA itself is considering joining her cause.

In a preliminary filing with the high court last week, attorneys for OHA led by former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Robert Klein questioned whether the Ethics Commission actually has authority to shape how OHA trustees use proceeds from ceded lands, which help fund the agency….

The outcome of Akana’s appeal, Klein and other attorneys argued, would go well beyond her case and could hinder OHA and its trustees from doing their jobs.

The Ethics Commission wants the court to dismiss the case. On Friday the high court denied OHA’s motion but said it could file it again should the court agree to accept Akana’s appeal….

read … Mitsunaga Ends Up In The Slammer And Other Legal Thrillers

CB: Akina v. OHA

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