State attorneys are appealing a court decision that overturned Hawaii Ethics Commission charges against a Big Island charter school employee.
Last February the commission fined Connections Public Charter School administrative assistant Eric Boyd $10,000 for 20 violations dating back to 2006. The infractions involved Boyd, who also owns and runs a food service business with his wife, signing off on payments to himself for providing hundreds of school meals and selling thousands of dollars worth of electronics equipment to the school.
But a Circuit Court judge last month rejected 11 of the 20 charges after an appeal from Boyd’s attorney, Ted Hong, reducing the fine to $4,500.
Ethics Executive Director Les Kondo told the commission at its meeting Thursday that the state Attorney General’s office filed a notice this week to appeal the court decision. New Ethics Commission member Ruth Tschumy recused herself from the discussion because she is the former chair of the state Charter School Review Panel.
Hong filed a cross appeal Thursday to ask an intermediate court to reverse the remaining nine charges.
“This is a waste of taxpayers’ time and money,” Hong said, adding that the commission overcharged the case.
“I look forward to appealing this … and hopefully rein in the abuses of the Ethics Commission and Mr. Kondo.”
Kondo considers the Ethics Code a minimum standard of conduct that state employees have to follow to foster public confidence in state government. He has said the conflict of interest provision is clear: public workers can’t transact government business with themselves.
Internal emails and commission discussions this week had indicated Boyd was going to start a monthly plan to pay off the $4,500 fine over the next five months, but that will likely be put on hold while the appeals play out in court.
The nine counts the court upheld primarily dealt with Boyd purchasing supplies for the school from his own company, Kondo said.
The 11 counts that the court reversed centered around invoices submitted to the school on behalf of the company certifying school lunches and requesting payments, Kondo said.
The court determined that Boyd had not received direct compensation for doing that, Kondo said, but the commission believes that by definition he was compensated because he and his wife own the company.
It was the first contested case hearing before the commission in 27 years. Initially filed in 2011, the case raised questions with broad implications for the entire charter school community, government employees and the public at large, such as who is a state employee subject to the ethics code.