Hawaii Tourism Chief Resigns - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Tourism Chief Resigns

Beverly Wong Beverly Wong
Kelvin Bloom Kelvin Bloom

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hawaii Tourism Authority's President & CEO Rex Johnson resigns after civil rights leaders push for his termination.

Johnson quit amid allegations he forwarded pornographic, racist, and sexist e-mails to his friends, using his state-owned computer.

The Hawaii Tourism Board accepted the action, which takes effect immediately.

"I can tell you one thing, he's not a racist," said Johnson supporter Bankole Idowu.

"Actions speak louder than words. He could have deleted this," said Protestor Daphne Barbee-Wooten.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority Board listens to more than an hour of testimony, both pro and con for HTA President & CEO Rex Johnson keeping his job. After nearly 8-hours of deliberation behind closed doors, talks come to a halt as Johnson makes the tough decision himself to resign.

"I move that we accept the resignation of Rex Johnson as President and CEO of the HTA," said a board member.

" We are the losers Hawaii and the HTA," said Johnson supporter Beverly Wong.

Beverly Wong was one of many who wrote letters of support to save Johnson.

"We know he never did anything wrong that would ever hurt anyone," said Wong.

Still, many community groups including the NAACP held public protests, calling for Johnson's removal for sending racist and sexist jokes from his state-owned computer. That's what critics are calling strike two after Johnson remained on the job with shortened contract and salary cut for sending pornographic emails from that same computer.

"Certain accusations have made Rex a lightning rod for controversy. This has become a distraction to the effectiveness of the HTA," said HTA Board Chair Kelvin Bloom.

His co-workers shaken by the news are too emotional to talk.

Rex johnson was also unavailable for comment but released this statement saying:

"I want to thank the tourism industry leadership, community, staff and friends who have shown me so much support. I intend to support Hawaii's tourism industry in whatever way i can."

Who will fill this former chief's seat remains to be seen.The HTA says an interim ceo will be named soon while a search committee is organized to find Johnson's replacement.

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