Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Keli‘i Akina demands apology from fellow trustees
OHA Chairwoman Colette Machado and trustee Brendon Kalei‘aina Lee said an investigative committee’s findings “should in no way be considered a victory for Trustee Akina.”
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An Office of Hawaiian Affairs committee that investigated complaints against trustee Keli‘i Akina concluded he made misleading and untrue statements in violation of the board’s code of conduct policy.
However, the special Permitted Interaction Group also said in its one paragraph report that the board has no recourse for disciplinary action and it “considers this matter closed.”
Akina on Friday declared victory and called for an apology.
“I have stood up for the beneficiaries of OHA and the citizens of the state of Hawaii and spoken out on their behalf,” Akina said in a news release. “It is my duty as a public official to challenge the system for the good of the people.”
But in a joint statement of their own, OHA Chairwoman Colette Machado and trustee Brendon Kalei‘aina Lee, chairman of the Permitted Interaction Group, said the committee’s findings “should in no way be considered a victory for Trustee Akina.”
“The OHA Board, including Trustee Akina, will have an opportunity to discuss the (Permitted Interaction Group’s) findings at a subsequent Board meeting, pursuant to the State Sunshine Law,” the statement said.
In an April news release, Akina criticized the board for delaying an independent audit of OHA and its subsidiaries known as limited liability companies. He accused the board majority of taking “a step backward for transparency and accountability.”
The board’s code of conduct outlines standards of behavior and is designed to help the nine trustees function like a “collegial unit” and to “speak with one voice.” It requires trustees to support a decision once it is made by the board.
Machado previously said the agency received two internal complaints alleging trustee code of conduct violations against Akina, prompting the formation of a special subcommittee to investigate the charges.
Akina on Friday said the four-member panel met behind closed doors, and he was never given the opportunity to discuss the matter with the committee or present any defense before they made the report public.
“I believe my reputation has been maligned by an unjust process and that may hinder the performance of my public duties,” the trustee said. “What OHA, as a public agency, has done could have a chilling effect on the willingness of other elected officials to use their first amendment rights to speak out for the people. A fair democracy cannot exist unless there is a competition of ideas. We must protect freedom of speech.”
Akina called on the full OHA board to reject the
accusation that he made
untrue and misleading statements and issue a public apology.