It’s been nearly a week since Gov. Josh Green’s first pick to head the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands withdrew from consideration as the permanent nominee following rejection by a key Senate committee.

But Ikaika Anderson can stay on as interim director until the end of the legislative session in May or until Green appoints a replacement, Deputy Attorney General Ryan Kanaka‘ole told the Hawaiian Homes Commission Tuesday morning.

Anderson asked Green to withdraw his nomination on Feb. 15, a day after the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee voted to reject it. Green said Anderson would serve on an interim basis until a new director is chosen.

Hawaiian beneficiaries have questioned Anderson’s eligibility to continue serving as chairman of DHHL and the Hawaiian Homes Commission on an interim basis.

Opponents have cited a paragraph in the Hawaii Constitution in particular: “No person who has been nominated for appointment to any office and whose appointment has not received the consent of the senate shall be eligible to an interim appointment thereafter to such office.”

Commissioner Patty Teruya raised the issue at the start of Tuesday’s commission meeting. She thanked Anderson for being willing to serve but asked how he is able to do so considering the constitution.

Kanaka‘ole said Green appointed Anderson “under the governor’s interim appointment power,” which is granted in the state constitution.

“Withdrawal of a nomination means there will be no confirmation, however chair designate Anderson can still serve until the end of session, unless of course a new appointment is made,” Kanaka‘ole said.

The legislative session ends May 4. All of Green’s nominees to lead state departments need to win confirmation by the full 25-member Senate by that date.

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