EXCLUSIVE: Kenoi failed to report gifts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

EXCLUSIVE: Kenoi failed to report gifts

Less than two weeks after apologizing for excessive spending on his county credit card, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi is facing a new ethics controversy.

Hawaii News Now has learned that Kenoi has received thousands of dollars worth of travel from third-parties but failed to report them as gifts as required by law.

"I do think there is a double standard," said Big Island Councilmember Margaret Wille.

"I think the mayor is somewhat above the law."

A review of Kenoi's credit card records show that sponsors picked up the tab for a lot of the mayor's travel since he took office in 2009.

A list of some of those gifts include:

-- $3,600 paid for by the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau for a trip to Japan in 2010;

-- $200 paid for by the organizers of the 2011 Na Hoku music awards for travel to Oahu;

-- $500 in travel to other neighbor islands.

The list is hardly exhaustive because it's based on Kenoi's county credit card records, which don't provide details on all of his travels.

A spokesman for the mayor acknowledged that the proper gift disclosures weren't filled out and that the mayor is working to address the issue.

On the Big Island elected officials are required to disclose any gifts that they receive that are worth $100 or more. Failure to do so could mean a fine of up to $1,000. Violations of these types of gift disclosure laws have gotten a number of local politicians in legal trouble over the years.

For instance, state House Rep. Romy Cachola was fined a record $50,000 last year by the Honolulu Ethics Commission for accepting and failing to disclose gifts from lobbyists and for failing to disclose his conflicts of interest.

Several current and former Honolulu City Councilmembers are also under investigation for failing to disclose their gifts and conflicts.

Wille said Kenoi should also be investigated.

"The public wants to know who's patting who on the back," she said.

View Kenoi's full statements below:


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