HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee who admitted to making an inquiry with a business from the Thirty Meter Telescope after publicly advocating for its construction will pay a $25,000 fine to the state ethics commission.
The fine will settle the TMT complaint and several other ethical issues surrounding trustee Peter Apo, who was accused of using his OHA email address and staff members to support a private business that offers cultural training to developers.
Along with soliciting the developer of the TMT project for cultural consulting work, the Ethics Commission said Apo was hired by a company that was involved with planning redevelopment of OHA lands in Kakaako. Apo's spokesperson says the work he did for the company was not related to the Kakaako properties. An allegation Apo's office denies stating the work in Kaka'ako is not an OHA contracted project.
Other trustees, including Collete Machado, said it was a clear conflict with his elected position.
"That was the most shocking," Machado said, referring to the Kaka'ako development issue. "For me, that was the biggest crossing (of the) line. I was so surprised."
Machado says the trustees will likely discuss further sanctions against Apo, who did not answer questions on Thursday, instead electing to issue a statement saying he never intended to violate the ethics code.
"I accept responsibility for my errors," read Apo's statement. "I apologize to OHA beneficiaries and employees, and to my fellow OHA trustees."