Trustee Akana says investigation into her OHA spending is hampering her campaign
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana says an ongoing investigation by the state ethics commission is hampering her campaign.
HONOLULU - Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana says an ongoing investigation by the state ethics commission is hampering her campaign. Akana is suing the state after it concluded she violated ethics code on 50 separate occasions.
Her case brought against the commission was continued for a second time at Honolulu's First Circuit Court Wednesday. Akana was not present.
The longtime trustee's attorney says the commission over-stepped its authority by dictating how OHA funds are spent.
She's expected to appear before the commission later this month.
"By scheduling the hearings one week before the General Election, one, they effect the perceptions of the public regarding the candidate, and two, they effectively hobble her by tying her down the last week of major campaigning in a week long hearing," Steve Tannembaum, Attorney representing Akana.
Akana is up against four other candidates for OHA's trustee at-large seats.
The Ethics Commission initially ruled she misspent her OHA spending allowance -- using funds to pay for flowers for a Hawaiian heiress, her monthly cable bill and food for OHA gatherings.
Akana's attorney says she was in compliance with spending regulations already predetermined by OHA.
Native Hawaiians calling for Akana's removal attended Wednesday's hearing. One beneficiary asking voters to push for new leadership.
"What we should be talking about is healthcare, how to improve that for Hawaiians, mass incarceration, affordable housing. But for the past few years what we got is conflict, unrest, unnecessary litigation," OHA beneficiary, Attorney Kau'i Pratt-Aquino explained.
In 2016- hundreds signed a petition to oust Akana as chair. Documents from the agency listed 33 internal complaints were filed against her.