Lingle Names New Chief of Staff, Defends Awana

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Governor Lingle named State Transportation Director Barry Fukunaga her new Chief of Staff Monday.

But instead of talking about Fukunaga's experience in state government, the governor found herself defending the resignation of her former Chief of Staff, Bob Awana.

A long time ally of Governor Lingle, Awana abruptly announced his resignation last June amid questions over his alleged role in an corruption investigation in Saipain, and an alleged extortion attempt against him.

Monday Lingle said Awana came to her shortly after taking his concerns to the federal government.

It was then they agreed it would be best to part ways.

"He resigned because of media attention and sensationalization of him being the victim of blackmail and the media focusing on his personal life and personal issues," said Lingle.

In October, a judge sentenced Indian national, Rajdatta Patkar, to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempting to blackmail Awana over an online relationship.

Lingle calls the relationship a personal matter for Awana.

She also lashed out at some reporters for what she called their "appetite for salscuius details", while defending Awana, and her adminstration as a whole.

"This case had nothing to do with the government," Lingle said.  "I know of no investigation. None of my directors and myself have ever been contacted about any investigation and yet the media continues to print this."

Lingle says the only information that's ever come out in connection with the allegations, came from the man who is now in jail for attempting to blackmail Awana.

"The issues surrounding Bob were because something he did personally. It had nothing to do with his role in government, or his time in government or his use of any government resources."

All documents relating to any investigations involving Awana remain sealed.

However, Lingle says if a judge rules the information should be made public, she would welcome that decision.