After release of critical audit, OHA leaders admit: 'Change needs to happen'

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

With the official release of the critical Office of Hawaiian Affairs audit Tuesday, dissident OHA trustees are renewing calls for the CEO's ouster.

"Change needs to happen," said former OHA Chair Rowena Akana.

Akana was one of several OHA trustees calling for CEO Kamanao Crabbe's removal last year for allegedly mismanaging millions of dollars of OHA's money.

She and other trustees said the new audit confirms what they've been saying all along.

"While the state audit shows egregious misspending by OHA, it's just the tip of the iceberg," added Trustee Kelii Akina.

The audit is the final version of a draft leaked to the media earlier this month. It faults OHA for ignoring its own spending policies, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for things like group trips to New Zealand and sponsorship of a conservation convention in Waikiki.

"We found in the audit that OHA is spending a lot of money. They have procedures, they have policies but a lot of spending is not consistent with those policies," said State Auditor Les Kondo.

OHA Chairwoman Collette Machado issued this statement today:.

"We must endeavor to institute and enforced disciplined spending through clearly defined, objective and responsible policies and protocols," she said.

"I have already proposed that the board immediately adopt moratoriums on the use of fiscal reserve funds as well on the use of trustee sponsorships."

The audit also slammed individual trustees for abusing their $22,000 a year allowances to pay for things such as campaign contributions and meals at local restaurants.

According to the auditor, those questionable expenditures are helping to deplete the trust's fiscal reserve. Since 2011, the balance in that reserve fund has dropped from about $15 million to $2 million.

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