Maui to Assist in Hawaiʻi County Mayor Kenoi Ethics Case
By Wendy Osher
The Corporation Counsel for the County of Hawaiʻi is seeking the assistance of the Maui Office of the Corporation Counsel in matters relating to a complaint filed against Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi and his personal use of a county credit card.
Kenoi reportedly “admitted to charging nearly $9,000 over five years in personal expenses to his county pCard,” according to a recent report filed by Hawaiʻi News Now.
In an email communication to Maui Now, Molly A. Stebbins with the office of the corporation counsel on Hawaiʻi Island confirmed the Maui office assistance saying, “To avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, a deputy from the Maui Office of the Corporation Counsel will serve as legal counsel for our County Board of Ethics in all matters and inquiries relating to the complaint filed against Mayor Kenoi and Finance Director Deanna Sako.”
Stebbins said the office has sought assistance from the Maui Office of the Corporation Counsel in previous ethics cases involving conflicts of interest.
“The Maui Office of the Corporation Counsel is just taking over the role of providing legal counsel to our Hawai’i County Board of Ethics,” said Stebbins. “Normally one of our office’s deputies performs this function, as we do for all county boards and commissions; however, we have asked the Maui Corporation Counsel to provide assistance in this case to avoid any conflict of interest.”
Maui County communications director Rod Antone also commented saying, “Our Corp. Counsel is assisting the Hawaiʻi County Ethics Board. We are not in charge of any investigation or review. That’s still being handled by the Ethics Board. We are simply providing legal advice.”
“Because parties involved are from the administration, to make sure there is no impropriety or biased, they will get outside advice from outside Corp. Counsel–in this case Maui County Corp. Counsel,” said Antone.
“Maui Counsel will be there to help with questions they may have,” he said.
The Ethics Board is scheduled to convene their first meeting relating to the issue on May 13, 2015.