Editor’s note: Peter Apo’s Community Voice is in response to Brett Oppegaard’s recent column, Reader Rep: Dig Deeper Into Peter Apo’s Misdeeds.

Mr. Oppegaard:

Ethics violations are a civil matter, not criminal, as you stated. The same beneficiary, who filed the civil lawsuit mentioned above, also filed the complaints to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Although all of the complaints are listed at the beginning of the commission’s formal report, the actual findings are near the end of the report. If you read the report, you will notice a significant discrepancy between what the complainant alleged and what the commission actually found.

Yes, Civil Beat did give me the opportunity to speak to its readers about serious, important and complicated native Hawaiian issues and challenges. Every Civil Beat column I wrote had two posting destinations: Civil Beat was one, and equally important was my Office of Hawaiian Affairs website.

OHA Trustee Peter Apo takes issue with Brett Oppegaard’s column in Civil Beat. Eric Pape/Civil Beat

In hindsight, I should have declined the offer to be a paid Civil Beat columnist. However, I would have done it anyway because I believe that I was making an important contribution to an important public dialogue. It was never a plot to make money.

My company never benefited from the Thirty Meter Telescope, nor from any OHA project including Kakaako Makai development. Despite the complainant’s allegations, I was never asked to consult on any OHA project and I never did.

I did forward all of my email to one address for convenience, and the Ethics Commission found that to be a violation.

I thank Civil Beat for caring about the Hawaiian community and giving me opportunities to speak directly to its readers, who are an important core of an engaged and informed public.

I have been writing op-ed columns, essays and various forms of the printed word including topical song lyrics and poetry for 40 years (absent any ghostwriters as claimed by a reader).

My considerable body of work, which largely focuses on Hawaiian politics and culture, tourism and Hawaii’s economic growth challenges, stands on its own.

And, at 78 years old, I have no intention of stopping.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author

  • Peter Apo
    Peter Apo is a former trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and legislator. He is the president of the Peter Apo Company, a cultural tourism consulting company to the visitor industry. He has also been the arts and culture director for Honolulu, the city's director of Waikiki Development and served as special assistant on Hawaiian affairs to Gov. Ben Cayetano.