Fired DHHL deputy director says she was intimidated and insulted - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fired DHHL deputy director says she was intimidated and insulted

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Michelle Kauhane was Deputy Director of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. In December she met with the governor's Chief of Staff, Bruce Coppa.

She recorded audio from the meeting on her iPhone, unbeknownst to the other people in the room.

"I'd like to offer you a job, $85,000, and working with Colin Kippen for Hawaiians," Coppa said on the recording. "It could be funded through DHHL. It's an opportunity. I'd like you to consider it."

"I was stunned to be asked to go somewhere else," Kauhane said.

She said she felt intimidated because State Attorney General David Louie was also there. He talked about an investigation into an email she wrote on re-certifying native Hawaiians.

"The email was simply to stop the process we were following now, so that I could understand how do we arrive at a situation of re-certification," Kauhane said.

On the recording Louie said her statements could be in violation of the law.

"If you were to take a different position, the incompatibility is not as manifest," he said. "It's still an issue for me but it's not the same thing if you're in a different position, if you're not acting as the Deputy Director."

Kauhane said she understood it to mean "it would be less of an issue if I took a job somewhere else."

She describes the meeting with Coppa and Louie as confrontational, and the job offer as a way to get her out of the way.  She and DHHL director Jobie Masagatani didn't see eye to eye.

"That's the only way I'm leaving DHHL. You don't want me there, fire me!" Kauhane said on the recording.

She was terminated a few days after the meeting, and told only that her services were no longer needed.

"Seeing it first hand myself was stunning. That even at the highest levels of enforcement, the Attorney General himself, I felt intimidated to be asked to go somewhere else," she said.

At one point Coppa can be heard getting emotional, tapping the desk to emphasize his points.

"I said, 'Hey, $85,000 a year. It's not a bad deal. Let's see if we can make that happen, and we'll spin it up to be very good. It could be a damn good thing and the governor could announce it. That's what I'm telling you as a friend," he said.

"With a friend like that I probably don't need an enemy," Kauhane said.

In a statement, the governor's press secretary Louise Kim McCoy said, "The Chief of Staff and Attorney General have no comment as to their discussions with Michelle Kauhane as this is a personnel matter. DHHL funds are regularly used to pay the salaries of personnel from other departments whose services are exclusively furthering the mission of DHHL."

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved

  • NationalMore>>

  • The Latest: Barbara Bush buried at presidential library

    The Latest: Barbara Bush buried at presidential library

    Saturday, April 21 2018 10:44 AM EDT2018-04-21 14:44:47 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 1:58 AM EDT2018-04-22 05:58:21 GMT
    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush, Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Houston.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush, Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Houston.

    Guests have begun to arrive at St. Martin's Church in Houston for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.

    More >>

    Guests have begun to arrive at St. Martin's Church in Houston for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.

    More >>
  • Laughter, tears as former first lady Barbara Bush remembered

    Laughter, tears as former first lady Barbara Bush remembered

    Saturday, April 21 2018 12:04 AM EDT2018-04-21 04:04:04 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 1:58 AM EDT2018-04-22 05:58:13 GMT
    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Mourners pause as former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush lies in repose during the visitation of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Friday, April 20, 2018, in Houston.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Mourners pause as former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush lies in repose during the visitation of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Friday, April 20, 2018, in Houston.

    As the outpouring of tributes continues for Barbara Bush, the general public can pay its respects to the former first lady.

    More >>

    As the outpouring of tributes continues for Barbara Bush, the general public can pay its respects to the former first lady.

    More >>
  • Verne Troyer, Mini-Me from 'Austin Powers' films, has died

    Verne Troyer, Mini-Me from 'Austin Powers' films, has died

    Saturday, April 21 2018 5:54 PM EDT2018-04-21 21:54:40 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 1:56 AM EDT2018-04-22 05:56:25 GMT
    Actor Verne Troyer from the "Austin Powers" films has died at age 49.More >>
    Actor Verne Troyer from the "Austin Powers" films has died at age 49.More >>
Powered by Frankly