- Special Projects
For the first time, the public is privy to the annual financial disclosure reports filed by members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.
Well, at least four of the 15 members who filed their required reports since a new law took effect July 8. The other regents’ records will remain sealed under a unanimous ruling last week by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.
The new law adds 15 state boards to the list of those whose members have to publicly disclose their financial interests. They include the Board of Regents, the Agribusiness Development Corporation, Land Use Commission and Hawaii Community Development Authority.
Against the advice of its executive director, Les Kondo, the five-member Ethics Commission decided only reports involving those board members filed after the law took effect July 8 will be released. That means the public won’t see the financial statements of the vast majority of current members on the affected boards until their next reports are due, May 31, with the exception that new members have to file their reports within 30 days of being appointed.
Civil Beat filed a public records request July 14 under the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act asking for the financial disclosure statements of the current members of the Board of Regents, Land Use Commission and Agribusiness Development Corporation.
In accordance with the commission’s ruling, Kondo responded Tuesday, and denied the request except for the four regents who filed after the law took effect.
Those four regents are Lee Putnam, Jan Sullivan, Michelle Tagorda and Stanford Yuen. (Putnam, Tagorda and Yuen are among Abercrombie’s most recent appointments, having just started their terms July 1. Sullivan was appointed in 2011.)
The law provides a new level of government transparency, at least going forward. Twenty-six people across 10 of the affected boards quit before the law took effect, so their reports will remain private.
Putnam’s disclosure statement shows she received no income for services rendered during the preceding calendar year.
But she owns shares in 25 different businesses. The value of her shares ranges from $1,000 to $50,000, depending on the company. The businesses include Alexander & Baldwin, Vanguard, Bank of Hawaii, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo and Time Warner.
Putnam’s report also shows she is an unpaid trustee for the Hawaii Veterans Memorial Fund.
Sullivan’s report offers more detail. It shows that she and her husband own the engineering and tech company Oceanit. They each earn $150,000 to $250,000 as executives for the Honolulu-based firm.
Sullivan owns at least several million dollars worth of real estate through holdings in six companies and owes five creditors at least $5 million total. The Sullivans own two properties in Honolulu, one in Colorado and two in California.
Aside from serving as a regent, the report shows, Sullivan is also a board member for the Hawaii Nature Center and a director of Enterprise Honolulu.
Tagorda’s report shows she is a graduate assistant earning from $10,000 to $25,000 at the University of Hawaii and owes First Hawaiian Bank a similar amount.
Yuen’s income comes from property rentals. He received from $50,000 to $100,000 over the last year from several rentals he owns in his business that is valued at $500,000 to $750,000, the report shows.
His report shows he also serves on the Honolulu Ethics Commission and is the director of Mo Hock Ke Lock Bo. Both positions are unpaid.
The financial statements don’t reveal any medical information or credit history, as Gov. Neil Abercrombie had insinuated in a statement last month explaining his concerns with the legislation, which he allowed to become law without his signature.
Indeed, a significant amount of financial information is already publicly available through other online resources, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Hawaii Information Service and court filings. Civil Beat demonstrated in a report last week that the public can still find out substantial information about members through readily available public databases.
Kondo said the financial reports filed by the newly affected board members will be posted on the commission’s website soon with all the other ones that have been publicly available for years, including those filed by state lawmakers, the governor and department heads.
Here are the four regents’ reports (and the key to decode the financial ranges of each letter):