Gov. David Ige today withdrew his nomination to reappoint prominent Honolulu attorney Rick Fried as Hawaii Tourism Authority board chairman.
Fried, who has served on the HTA board of directors since 2012, took over as chairman in July 2015 after the abrupt resignation of then-chairman Aaron Sala. The HTA is the state agency responsible for Hawaii’s tourism marketing.
Fried’s confirmation was uncertain as a slate of HTA board members headed to a Senate floor today. Four members of the Senate Committee on Economic Development Tourism and Technology who were present at a Monday confirmation hearing were split on Fried’s reappointment.
Fried said today that he made a request to Ige to withdraw his nomination. Fried, who plans to stay on HTA until his current term ends later this year, said he didn’t want his reappointment to distract from the work HTA had to do.
“I didn’t want the focus to be in anyway on personalities or politics,” he said.
His exit is another shakeup for HTA, which took a $13 million legislative budget cut Tuesday, and over the last several months has dealt with the resignations of its second- and third-ranked executives.
At least 11 HTA staff members, the majority in key positions, have left the organization since 2015, a high turnover rate considering that the agency has 20 full-time employees and 1o contract workers.
The Senate did support new HTA board nominees Ben Rafter, David Arakawa, Micah Alameda and the return of Kyoko Kimura, who previously served on the board. They also voted for existing HTA board members George Kam and Fred Atkins.