Legislative panel begins inquiry into securities

HONOLULU (AP) - A special legislative panel charged with investigating the handling of student loan-backed securities by Gov. Linda Lingle's administration has held its first public meeting.

A panel of three state senators and three representatives was to adopt investigative rules and discuss procedural matters.

State Auditor Marian Higa in March concluded that Lingle's top budget aides violated policy and might have broken state law in their management of a $1 billion investment in student loan auction-rate securities.

The investment is now valued at $752 million.

Lingle strongly criticized the audit as shoddy.

The panel composed of four Democrats and two Republicans may subpoena witnesses.

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