Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi said Wednesday that he thought it was OK to charge personal purchases on his county credit card, including an $892 tab at a Honolulu hostess bar, a $1,200 surfboard and a $1,900 bicycle — as long as he paid it back right away.
Kenoi said he reimbursed the county a total of $26,000 for charges and interest made to his purchasing card (pCard) from 2009 to the present. Roughly half was for personal purchases, he said.
Personal goods and services, liquor and entertainment are among the prohibited uses of the purchasing card.
Of the $26,000, he said he paid $7,500 back on Tuesday, and $19,100 before that.
Kenoi, who took office December 2008, said he has charged a total of $129,000 on the card. Of that, $103,000 was used for travel expenses on official county business and was not for personal or family use. The rest was for official county business such as lei, omiyage, pizzas for volunteers during tsunami cleanup, and festivals, the mayor said.
Kenoi’s unauthorized use of the purchasing card has come under scrutiny since West Hawaii Today broke the news Sunday that he reimbursed the county for 25 charges, including the Club Evergreen tab. The newspaper reported that Kenoi had reimbursed the county in March 2014 for an $892 tab in December 2013 at a Honolulu hostess club that he made on the county-issued purchasing card (pCard).
West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday that among the personal items he bought were a $1,219.69 surfboard and $1,909.47 in equipment from a bike shop.
He told reporters at the state Capitol Wednesday he has no excuses or justifications, takes full responsibility, and apologizes for using his county purchasing card for the unauthorized purchases