A state Board of Land and Natural Resources member had no conflict of interest when he voted to restrict access to Mauna Kea last week, as erroneously claimed in an opinion piece written by University of Hawaii law school student Zuri Aki.
Civil Beat inadvertently published the opinion piece, and removed it from the site about an hour after it was published.
Aki wrote that BLNR member Stanley Roehrig served on the board of directors for a nonprofit organization that received a $15,000 grant funded by the Thirty Meter Telescope, and comments about the alleged conflict of interest continue to make the rounds on social media.
Roehrig joined the majority in a 5-2 vote to approve new rules aimed at preventing TMT protestors from camping on the mountain and continuing to block construction of the $1.4 billion project.
But Roehrig left the board of the nonprofit, Keaukaha One Youth Development, on March 16. Meeting minutes show that Keahi Warfield, Tom Osorio and Naomi Ahu were appointed to the board of directors that day.
Warfield and Ahu applied for the grant funded by the TMT and administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation on Jan. 30. Warfield and Ahu said in an email that Roehrig was not involved in the grant application.
The grant was awarded March 27, after Roehrig stepped down from the board.
Roehrig said he became aware of the conflict of interest allegations when his son told him he saw a Facebook post.
“That’s a very unfortunate thing to say because it’s not true,” Roehrig said. “I don’t know what entity gives money to the Hawaii Community Foundation. I don’t know any of those details. I was not involved in making this grant request and I did not talk to anybody at the community foundation about it. I don’t think I would know who to talk to.”
Keaukaha One Youth Development is a nonprofit on the Big Island that provides after-school services for underprivileged Native Hawaiian youths.
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