Senate panel grills DBEDT director - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Senate panel grills DBEDT director

Marion Higa Marion Higa
Ted Liu Ted Liu

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State auditor Marion Higa Tuesday reiterated her recommendation that Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism director Ted Liu be fired.

But he said he's not going anywhere.

Higa told a Senate panel that her 168-page audit shows DBEDT withheld information and provided "erroneous and misleading information" to state officials.

She said that allowed the department to spend private funds and federal money at its discretion.

"The lack of internal controls for out of state office's expenditures place the department at risk for abuse and fraud. And there's a pattern of behavior here that raises issues of what is the tone at the top?" Higa said.

The audit scrutinized a trade mission to China and the opening of the state's offices in Taiwan and Beijing.

Liu told lawmakers he questions Higa's methodology.

"What's she's done is taken events out of their context, tried to link unrelated events together, inferring all kinds of bad intentions and motives in creating a story that's just not accurate," he said.

Liu said the first draft of the audit talked about violations of federal guidelines, but the final draft withdraws that.

Higa told the panel she believes her auditing team "proved everything."

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