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Ethics board will weigh complaint against Kenoi

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    Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi meets with the media at the Capitol rotunda in Hono­lulu to talk about an ethics complaint concerning his use of county credit cards for personal expenses.

The Hawaii County Board of Ethics will take up in September an ethics complaint that was lodged against Mayor Billy Kenoi for allegedly abusing his county purchasing card.

The board had originally decided to defer action on the petition until after the state attorney general’s office completed its investigation into Kenoi’s charging $129,000 on the county pCard for personal purchases including two Hono­lulu hostess bar tabs, a surfboard, lavish dining and travel. Kenoi maintains he has reimbursed the county for all those expenses.

"We reconsidered our decision to defer action, but it’s still an open question," said ethics board member Doug­lass Adams.

Neither Kenoi nor his attorney appeared Wednesday before the ethics board, so board members decided to take up the matter at its next meeting in September when all the parties involved are pres­ent, Adams said.

Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland petitioned the board April 6, saying Kenoi and County Finance Director Deanna Sako should be removed.

Hyland alleges Kenoi violated a provision of the county ethics code that prohibits county employees from using their official positions to obtain special privileges or treatment.

Adams said Hyland’s petition named both Kenoi and Sako. He said the ethics board "took a look at Director Sako’s involvement, and how the petition was addressing her as part of his complaint and removed her from the petition."

West Hawaii Today broke the story March 29 revealing Kenoi reimbursed the county in March 2014 for 25 personal charges, including an $892 tab at Club Evergreen.

Kenoi reimbursed the county another $7,500 on March 31, two days after the West Hawaii Today story was published.

Kenoi said he used his pCard because he didn’t have a personal credit card, and thought it was OK since he claimed to have paid personal charges back monthly.

Sako told the Star-Advertiser in an April 3 interview she and former Finance Director Nancy Crawford had repeatedly spoken to the mayor about not using the pCard for personal use.

That practice did not stop until the Club Evergreen visit, she said.

Sako, who became finance director in January, succeeded Crawford, who retired in December.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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