EXCLUSIVE: Ethics Commission probes BWS contract

EXCLUSIVE: Ethics Commission probes BWS contract
Brian McKee
Brian McKee
Carroll Cox
Carroll Cox

The City Ethics Commission is investigating allegations of illegal contract awards at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.

The Board's Chief Engineer Ernest Lau requested the probe into the $1.5 million contract with a company headed by the board's former chief information officer Brian McKee.

"The BWS will conduct an investigation into any criminal procurement violations and will suspend contracts with Mr. Brian McKee until such time that we can review the findings of the investigative report," said Lau, who signed the contract.

Lau's comments came in a letter to environmental activist Carroll Cox, who had asked for details on the board's contract with McKee's company UTC-10 Consulting LLC.

On Friday morning, an Ethics Commission investigator was at the board, requesting documentation. The investigator also called potential witnesses.

"It is public corruption. I would say it's the poster child because checks and balance were not in place," said Cox.

"This is what I believe is the perfect case of a white-collar crime."

According to documents obtained by Hawaii News Now, the water utility provided lucrative perks for UTC-10's subcontractor, including $9,100 a month for apartment rent and more than $2,000 monthly for meals and groceries.

McKee could not be reached.

"There's something wrong," said City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

Kobayashi said she's worried about some of these costs being passed onto consumers.

"We have received so many complaints about the billings and what is happening at the Board of Water Supply so it really makes you wonder what is happening."

Kobayashi and fellow council members are calling for an audit and that audit could be the first step toward a major shake up at the water utility.

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