NO LAUGHING MATTER - TRUSTEE PETER APO USED OHA RESOURCES FOR PRIVATE BUSINESS PURPOSES
By Mililani Trask
Aloha Hawaiian Beneficiaries and Voters,
On January 17th, 2017, OHA Trustee Peter Apo responded to my live interview with reporter Rick Daysog of Hawaii News Now about recent revelations that the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs had settled out a Sexual Harassment claim against Trustee Apo by agreeing to pay $50,000.00 in Trust funds to keep the case from being filed during the election period. Trustee Apo claimed that I was a disgruntled candidate who lost the election and that my statements had no basis of fact.
This is the second email I am posting to present information regarding OHA Trustee Peter Apo that I received personally and later filed with the State Ethics Commission as formal Complaints in March and April of 2016. Because no corrective action has been taken by state regulatory bodies for months and because OHA continues to be plagued by in-fighting caused by the outgoing Trustee Majority, including Trustee Peter Apo, I have decided to reveal the information I have so that there will be more accountability and transparency in OHA.
Part II. How OHA Trustee Peter Apo used of OHA office, staff & resources for private business purposes.
Among the many documents I reviewed when I met with and interviewed the young Hawaiian woman lawyer who had been the subject of Trustee Peter Apo’s sexual advances, were communications from Apo to his OHA secretary regarding accessing OHA Protocol funds for his private contract with Civil Beat .
For several months, Trustee Peter Apo has been an author writing articles for Civil Beat. From the inception of his contract with Civil Beat, Apo was paid per article by CB. This information was included in the Ethics Complaint filed by myself and another beneficiary in March & April of 2016.
One of the communications I reviewed was a note from Peter Apo to his secretary ‘Ani’ that stated....... “Protocol Fund for Moolelo Maunakea Project (w/Makana Choi)
Lets discuss”. This email was sent by the Peter Apo Company (Apo’s private Company) to Liana Pang at her OHA secretarial address ….” firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the OHA address. The email was sent on a Friday during OHA working hours to his OHA secretary at her OHA email address but did not relate at all to OHA work.
The note addresses use of OHA Protocol trust funds for research and drafting an article that Apo would later sell to CB. It is clear from the correspondence that the project was to pay Makana Choi who had been Apo’s secretary at OHA before she left for employment at KS/BE. Choi did the research & work and was compensated by Apo with OHA trust funds for a ‘project’ identified as “Moolelo Maunakea”.
My research on OHA projects could not find any project named Moolelo Maunakea.
The explanation I received on this communication was that it referenced an article sold by Peter Apo to Civil Beat on Maunakea and dated 12-17-2015. It was an article deriding Hawaiians who worshipped at Maunakea, in which Apo claimed that he had done in depth scholarly research but could not find anything that proved that Maunakea was sacred. Apo then concluded that Maunakea was not sacred although Hawaiian “protectors” have decreed that there “Shall be no Development”. See , Peter Apo, Let There be Light on TMT, Civil Beat 12-17-2015. The date of the Apo correspondence is September 11th, three months prior to Civil Beats publishing the final article.
After reading this document I concluded that Apo was using OHA trust funds to pay a ghost researcher/writer for articles he sold to CB in his effort to support the TMT.
This is why this communication was included in the Ethics Complaints filed in 2016. I heard later that the CB confirmed to Ethics that they had hired Apo as a regular writer and that they were paying him several thousand per year for these pieces. I was never able to get CB to say how much they paid Apo in total for his submissions.
This is only one example of Apo communications I personally reviewed that related to the Peter Apo Company. In all of these documents, Trustee Apo uses his personal email tag (Peter Apo Company) during OHA working hours and directs his OHA secretary to prepare for private business tasks.
In a second correspondence, Apo, (as Peter Apo Company) informs his current secretary ‘Ani’ Liana Pang about a meeting the following week. The correspondence relates to private work for his company, was sent during work hours to the OHA email address.
On September 11th Apo sent another Correspondence to his OHA secretary , it said… “Re: NEXT WEDNESDAY “Ani plan to join me in a meeting w/Chartwell Food Service folks above NICOs. Winston wants work under me so I am quoting Charwell a rate of $300.00 hr. For this meeting I’d like to follow up after by providing them a dialogue record of the meeting. ”
These are only a few examples of how Apo as been using OHA for private business. It is also clear that Apo is being assisted by OHA staff who are also guilty of using OHA resources, time and equipment for personal business.
When I heard that Civil Beat had “decided to let Peter go” I was not surprised.
NEXT Article: Peter Apo and the OHA Kakaako Development – Helping his Friends
Through the good graces of his OHA Office.