The Hawaii State Ethics Commission said Wednesday that a Circuit Court judge has upheld a ruling against Rowena Akana, the former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.

In February, the commission found that Akana committed 47 violations of the State Ethics Code.

The case arose from the trustee’s acceptance “of prohibited gifts, failure to file gifts disclosure statements, and use of her Trustee Allowance to pay for her home cable television service, political donations, and food for herself and staff, among other things,” according to the commission.

OHA Chair Rowena Akana. 4 jan 2017

Then OHA Chair Rowena Akana, January 2017.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

A penalty of $23,106 was imposed and the matter was referred to the Hawaii attorney general for possible further action.

Akana, who lost re-election in 2018, appealed, but on Tuesday Circuit Court Judge James Ashford rejected Akana’s arguments.

Among Akana’s arguments were that the Ethics Commission lacked the authority to regulate an OHA trustee’s exercise of powers, that it exceeded its authority and jurisdiction, that it deprived Akana of due process, that written charges should have been issued as a prerequisite to the investigation, that her equal protection rights were violated, that the fine was excessive and that OHA should have been held accountable.

Not so, said Ashford.

Read the ruling here.

Will you help us?

There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

About the Author