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Former DOT deputy fined for ethics violations

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    Jadine Urasaki, then a deputy director at the Department of Transportation, spoke at a news conference announcing the start of the H-1 freeway rehabilitation project,

A former deputy director of the state Department of Transportation has paid a $13,000 administrative fine to resolve allegations that she violated the state ethics code when she apparently took action on a dozen state contracts with a consulting firm where her husband worked.

Jadine Urasaki, the former DOT deputy director for capital improvement projects, apparently took official action on matters involving consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. that “likely constituted a conflict of interest” and a violation of the state ethics code because her husband Randall Urasaki is a vice president at Parsons, according to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Randall Urasaki was also “Parsons’ principal consultant and point of contact for the DOT Parsons projects,” according to a notice announcing the settlement that was posted on the Ethics Commission web site.

Urasaki as deputy DOT director also handled matters involving Hawaiian Electric Industries when she and her husband had investments in HEI stock totaling between $50,000 and $150,000, and the commission concluded she appeared to violate the state ethics law by taking official action on HEI matters that directly affected her financial interests.

“It did not appear that Respondent (Jadine) Urasaki was aware that her actions with respect to Parsons and HECO likely were prohibited under the State Ethics Code,” the commission said in the announcement. “Her apparent ignorance of the State Ethics Code, however, does not excuse her actions.”

The commission noted Urasaki attended a mandatory two-hour ethics training session by the commission, and should have been “much more aware” of the requirements of the code.

Jadine Urasaki was unavailable for comment, and Randall Urasaki did not respond to a telephone message left at his Parsons office.

Parsons Brinckerhoff issued a statement today saying that “although we cannot comment on the resolution of this case, we value our continued client relationship with the state and stand behind our robust business ethics and integrity programs.”

Jadine Urasaki left her position overseeing DOT construction projects at the end of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration. Her position was created during the Abercrombie administration, and was discontinued after Abercrombie left office, according to a transportation department spokeswoman.

Urasaki argued she did not actually take any action involving the Parsons contracts because DOT director Glenn Okimoto had final say over the contracts, according to the settlement announcement.

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  • Again an illustration of the double standards that exists. There is little doubt that if Mrs. Urasaki were not a public employee and did the same thing she would probably have been prosecuted for a criminal act. As a public employee she gets away with paying a fine. Why are public employees, who probably should be held to a higher stand, granted virtual immunity?

    • I’m not an expert but this may explain why “Her position was created during the Abercrombie administration, and was discontinued after Abercrombie left office….”

      • What I’ve been told by several people that have worked in State departments is that most of these administration appointees know little or nothing about the job they are appointed to. They usually get their job as a pay off for political work and they often continue to do politics in their job. Every department at the State is littered with these people.

        • It’s not only on the state level. It’s also on the federal level. It’s often who you know. A lot of qualified applicants are often passed over for someone’s friend within a department.

  • She now works for State DOE as Public Works Manager overseeing facilities construction projects, more contracts to give out to her family and friends. Someone keep an eye out for her work.

  • So what’s new? She paid the fine and have not admitted any wrong doing? How she got new job is insulting! Still at it conveying contracts to favored?

  • Ethics violations are handled basically as administrative matters. This matter should have been investigated and prosecuted as a criminal matter as corruption cases should be handled.

  • Not for one second do I believe she did not know what she was doing was improper. Doesn’t take training or counseling to know you don’t hire or consult or whatever she did with a family members firm. Just like the IBEW dude didn’t realize he was doing a wrong.

  • The way laws are currently written in the state protect the accused. That’s why we continually have offenders get away with minimal fines with no jail time.

    $13,000 administrative fine is basically a slap on the wrist to resolve allegations that she violated the state ethics code when she apparently took action on a dozen state contracts with a consulting firm where her husband worked who accumulated possible thousands of dollars in gains.

    A small price to pay for ‘nepotism’ and no accountability that’s busy at work here in the islands.

    Another great article by Mr. Dayton.

    • Ethics classes often applies to lower level staff. Upper level are often immune to ethics code. It’s often the culture within the department that the upper level is above the code of ethics. It’s pervasive in state as well as federal. Sad but true.

  • She would be perfect to chair the HART Board as soon as Colleen Hanabusa steps down to run for Congress. She could step right in and steer the $8 bil to her family and her political connections.

    • This is how it works for Trump, Sanders, or whoever gets elected– that is how big business works– politics. In Hawaii, Parsons would have worked with a Republican or Democrat. Big business controls politics everywhere and with everyone. The biggest lobbyists in Washington DC, Texas, California, Virginia, and Maryland work for defense contractors and other major contractors. Look at where the Wall Street money goes– to Republicans but also Democrats like Hillary. Who are the economists and treasury secretaries for the Democrats? Democrats appoint investment bankers from Wall Street. Who do the Banks in Hawaii support? Democrats that’s who. Why is Trump suddenly talking about helping Wall Street instead of American workers? Because he is seeking Wall Street campaign contributions.

  • Corruption crosses all boundaries – political,public or private, gender, country, ethnicity, …. $13K is chump change especially considering the profits made. Now she is doing the same in the DOE. She needs to be banned from State employment.

  • They create unnecessary jobs so they can have an insider to funnel jobs to family and friends. They eliminate jobs like vector controllers and ag inspectors so now we have fire ants and ohia wilt. Like the saying goes if you want to test a persons integrity give them power. The whole system is corrupt.

    • You may not realize how accurate you comments are. Within the government and definitely the legislature everyone knows about this yet nothing changes.

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