Ex-OHA trustee Rowena Akana hit with $23k fine for 47 ethics violations
  • Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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Ex-OHA trustee Rowena Akana hit with $23k fine for 47 ethics violations

  • DENNIS ODA / Oct. 25, 2018

    Office of Hawaiian Affairs then-trustee Rowena Akana is sworn in before she testifies at a state Ethics Commission contested-case hearing Oct. 25 in Honolulu. Akana was fined by the panel today for 47 ethics violations.

Former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana was fined more than $23,000 today by the state Ethics Commission for 47 ethics violations.

The commission also referred a complaint to the state Attorney General for possible recovery of prohibited gifts of legal fees exceeding $21,500. Hawaiian heiress Abigail Kawananakoa funded Akana’s lawsuit against OHA seeking more information about the agency purchase of its headquarters building.

The former OHA trustee, who lost re-election to the board in November, had faced a potential $50,000 fine for nearly 50 infractions of the state’s Gifts Law, Gifts Reporting Law and Fair Treatment Law.

The charges originally ranged from accepting a $72,000 cash gift to help pay for legal fees to using her trustee allowance to pay for food and buy home cable television services, a Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club membership and an Apple iTunes gift card.

A defiant Akana fought the allegations in court and during a weeklong contested case hearing in October — only the third such proceeding in more than 30 years.

The longest-serving trustee at 28 years, Akana said she became an election-year target by foes within OHA and that the timing of the hearing was designed to keep her from campaigning. Akana captured 101,000 votes but fell nearly 5,000 short of winning re-election.

In court, Akana accused the Ethics Commission of exceeding its authority, arguing that OHA trust funds don’t fall within the commission’s purview.

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