(BIVN) – Ethics Board member Rick Robinson criticized the conduct of state official Edward Underwood, the administrator of the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), during a meeting in Hilo Tuesday.
Due to the recusal of one member and the absence of another, the Ethics Board was unable to review a draft order dismissing the petition by Underwood alleging that Prosecutor Mitch Roth was in violation of Hawai`i County Code of Ethics Sections 2-83 (Fair Treatment) and 2-84 (Conflict of Interest) because he allegedly “used his position to influence further private interest regarding a contested case hearing.”
Roth believes he was a target of retaliation for raising concern over possible corruption within the ranks of state government.
“I’m really bothered by this whole thing,” Robinson stated. “Everything all over (Underwood’s) original petition all had his State email address, the state phone number, everything else. Then, in the course of the discussion, (he) tells us that he’s doing it on his own time. Then, further in the course of the discussion when we started asking him questions, (he) says ‘well I’ve been able to work it out with (DLNR chair) Suzanne Case.’ Does that mean… that she is condoning his action? Does it mean that DLNR’s condoning actions of Ed Underwood to what appeared to be (to) intimidate people as well as intimidate Mr. Roth?”
“I think that we, as the Ethics Board of the County of Hawaii, really should ask the Ethics Board of the State of Hawaii to investigate this matter,” Robinson said.
In October 2016, Roth testified at a Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting on Oahu concerning a request for a contested case by William Murtaugh, a disgruntled charter captain who was denied a request to renew his mooring at Keauhou Bay. Roth leveled pointed criticism of DOBOR during the meeting. In response, Underwood filed a complaint at the county Ethics Board, saying Roth improperly used his position as an elected official by giving the testimony. The County Ethics Board is dismissing Underwood’s petition.