Hawaii State Auditor Les Kondo plans to ask the State Ethics Commission to investigate the release of a draft audit that detailed questionable spending by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Civil Beat obtained a copy of the draft revealing millions of dollars misspent by the agency responsible for improving the well-being of Native Hawaiians.

Kondo called a press conference Friday afternoon to emphasize that the leak didn’t come from his office. “It was a surprise. Maybe it shouldn’t have been, but it was a surprise,” Kondo said.

He’s so upset about the unauthorized release that he’s conducting internal computer forensics analysis to see if anyone in his office emailed the document.

State of Hawaii Auditor Les Kondo press conference on the leaked OHA draft documents.
State of Hawaii Auditor Les Kondo held a press conference on the leaked documents detailing problems at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“I can guarantee that it didn’t come from here and if that turns out to be incorrect, there are bigger issues in this office rather than just egg on my face,” he said.

Kondo also sent a letter to OHA Friday urging them to investigate the source of the leak.

But Kondo says he’s not planning to use his own subpoena powers to get to the bottom of the leak. The former state ethics chief contends the release of the audit violated ethics law because it consisted of information that wasn’t readily available to the public.

He said he expects to release the final version of the audit within the next two or three weeks.

It’s the first time a draft audit has leaked from the State Auditor’s Office since Kondo took the job in 2016.

But two years ago, a city draft audit was published after the agency being reviewed — Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation — decided to make it public. Kondo drew a distinction between that release and the recent leak, because HART itself had decided to release the report.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs issued a statement Friday saying the agency is “extremely disappointed with the unauthorized release of the draft audit.”

The agency has launched an inquiry into the leak and says it will cooperate with both the Ethics Commission and State Auditor.

Kondo is planning to meet with OHA officials Tuesday to discuss the draft but declined to say when and where the meeting would take place. A spokesman for OHA said no public meetings are planned for that day.

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