HILO, Hawaii – Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his government issued purchase card was again on the table for discussion by the Hawaii County Board of Ethics.
After an hour-long debate, the five person panel voted to end the deferral on the matter and hold a hearing in November, after Kenoi’s trial is expected to be concluded.
In March a Hawaii Island grand jury indicted Mayor Kenoi for two counts of felony theft, two additional counts of misdemeanor theft, three counts of tampering with a government record and one count of false swearing in connection with Kenoi’s use of the p-card. Kenoi pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for October.
North Kohala resident Lanric Hyland is requesting the ethics board look into whether or not Kenoi violated county ethics code by using his p-Card “as a special privilege to obtain goods and services” from various merchants and vendors, which is a “conflict of interest in serious breach of the highest standards of ethical conduct.”
Speaking during the ethics meeting from Kohala via videoconference, Hyland pressed the board to take up the matter as soon as possible. Kenoi leaves office in December at which time he will longer be subject to the ethics review.
Tuesday’s discussion also included a new companion petition submitted by Hyland, alleging ethics board vice chair Kenneth Goodenow exhibited a bias towards the process and should recuse himself from the matter. However, as special Deputy Corporation Counsel Gary Murai elaborated, Hyland’s petition was not properly submitted in a timely matter, and so the board voted to take the matter up officially during its August meeting.