Official reviewing trade trip to China
The administrator in charge of overseeing state purchasing contracts says he still is reviewing records related to the Lingle administration's selection of a nonprofit organization to handle private donations to fund a trade mission to China last year.
Procurement Administrator Aaron Fujioka said he hopes to reach some kind of determination by the end of next week.
"I hope to have something available," Fujioka told a Senate panel. He said he was unsure if it would be a ruling on any violation or whether he would simply seek more information from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
The issue of the China trade mission came up during a Senate Government Operations Committee hearing on Gov. Linda Lingle's appointment of Fujioka to serve a full four-year term as procurement administrator.
Earlier this year, House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro asked the attorney general's office to investigate whether state purchasing laws were violated by the state agency.
The department had hired the nonprofit Pacific & Asia Affairs Council to handle finances for the China trip and paid about $7,000 out of corporate donations collected to fund the mission. Attorney General Mark Bennett said he found no criminal wrongdoing.
Fujioka said his staff has been in contact with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, trying to determine if any of its actions were subject to the state's procurement code.
Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa-Kapolei-Ewa Beach) asked Fujioka whether the hiring of a nonprofit to coordinate a trip was something that ordinarily would be subject to an open bidding process.
"We're trying to make that determination now before drawing any conclusion," Fujioka said.
Fujioka noted that if any wrongdoing was found, it would then have to be determined if it was a simple mistake or done purposefully to circumvent the law. Findings of alleged misconduct would be forwarded to the attorney general's office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.