Ethics Commission, former director spar over handling of Kealoha probes

Updated: Jul. 17, 2019 at 8:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Ethics Commission met Wednesday to “set the record straight” about how it handled the Kealoha investigation.

But they were stunned when former Executive Director Chuck Totto blasted them for crippling the probe.

“The Ethics Commission did not carry out its duties to the public to properly investigate the Kealohas," said Totto. “The chair mentioned that the Kealohas had nothing to do with my resignation. Well that’s not quite true."

He said the commissioners pulled him off the case, saying he had a conflict of interest after the Kealoha’s sued him and the commission. Totto said the city then took away his main investigator on the case.

But Commission Chair Victoria Marks challenged Totto’s account.

“He may want to believe that but I don’t see there are any facts to support that. It didn’t have anything to do with it,” Marks said.

“There’s been a good deal of misinformation and we’d like to present the facts as we know them.”

Back in 2014, Totto began investigating ethics complaints against then-Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, former deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

That was long before criminal investigations began which led to the Kealohas’ convictions in a massive public corruption case.

Many feel that Totto’s investigation — had it been completed — would have prevented the Kealohas from committing more crimes. They want commissioners to resign.

“The public doesn’t have much confidence in this board. In fact, they don’t have any. I ask publicly that the commission that were involved with Mr. Totto at the time resign their post immediately," said retired businessman Tim Garry.

Added Ken Lawson of the Hawaii Innocence Project at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law: “The mayor said after the verdict that it was time to move on. But we can’t move on until we’re clean. Right, it’s like taking a shower and putting on dirty underwear.”

Marks said board members will not resign. She added that the commission is still investigating two ethics complaints against the Kealohas.

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