The controversy over Hawaii Tourism Authority's CEO Rex Johnson continues

Gordon Trimble
Gordon Trimble
Murray Towill
Murray Towill
Rex Johnson
Rex Johnson

By Leland Kim - bio | email

Three Republican State Senators joined the call for the resignation of Rex Johnson Friday, saying he should no longer be in charge of the state's most vital industry.

But Johnson's supporters continue to insist he is the right person to lead the organization, especially during these slow economic times.

The beautiful view of Waikiki is the picture the Hawaii Tourism Authority wants the world to see.

While Johnson's mostly republican opponents continue to insist this is not a partisan issue, it appears the controversy is shifting focus from the business of tourism to Johnson's future.

Waikiki and the rest of Hawaii are facing a slump.

Tourism is down by as much as 20 percent from a year ago.

But the controversy surrounding the Hawaii Tourism Authority, CEO, Rex Johnson is still red hot. This more than a month after he admitted sending inappropriate and x-rated content from his work e-mail account.

Senator Gordon Trimble is the latest to call for Johnson's resignation.

"His views and actions are not my views," said Trimble. "They do not represent the residents of Waikiki, or the businesses that operate in Waikiki. It is time we put this sad incident behind us."

Johnson apologized and was able to keep his job at a reduced salary.

"He clearly made a mistake and he admitted it, and I think it's completely unfortunate,"said Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Assoc. President, Murray Towill. "He's been punished by the Authority. I guess everyone would like to move on if we can,"

Senator Trimble, who's up for re-election this fall says that's not enough especially since Hawaii tourism is suffering.

"It was not an inadvertent mistake. It was a pattern of behavior," said Senator Trimble.

The head of the Hawaii Hotel Association has known Johnson for 25 years..

"He's provided real leadership for the HTA, and provided direction for them and came on board at a time when they needed that," said Trimble.

"He may be a capable administrator, but he doesn't seem to have the image Hawaii needs to put forth now and that is why he should step down," he said.

Two different visions for the future of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.