Ethics panel hire is ripped on ethics
Hilton Lui is accused of bias for his part in Peter Young's failure to win reappointment
The man hired by the state to investigate the Bureau of Conveyances has run afoul of the state Ethics Commission.
The investigator, Hilton Lui, openly displayed his opposition to the reappointment of former state Department of Land and Natural Resources Director Peter Young and lobbied a senator to vote against him, said state Ethics Commission Executive Director Dan Mollway.
Lui investigated the bureau, which is part of the DLNR, for the Ethics Commission.
On Thursday, Mollway sent a letter to state lawmakers indicating that he cannot turn over Lui's report and supporting documents because he considers the report "null and void because Mr. Lui was so biased with regard to the investigation."
Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Enchanted Lakes), co-chairwoman of the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee, which also hired Lui, said she learned of the allegations against Lui last week.
"I was quite shocked," she said. "I had not been aware of any of these things."
The state Senate rejected Young's reappointment in April in part due to allegations of misconduct by bureau employees during his tenure.
Mollway said the commission started its investigation of the bureau after receiving reports that employees were receiving expensive gifts, were taking trips to Las Vegas and getting hotel upgrades, and that the bureau was receiving so many gift baskets from companies that use the bureau's services that raffles were conducted to determine who would get them. And he said there were reports that checks made out to certain people would later disappear.
Mollway said he received Lui's report June 20 and has not had time to read the 6-inch-tall stack of documents. But he considers it defective because Lui's demonstrated bias in Young's reappointment was outside the scope of his contract.
The commission paid Lui $14,860 for work he performed from February to May, Mollway said.
The Ethics Commission hires independent contractors to do its investigations, and Lui's company, Hilton and Associates Inc., is one of three on which the commission relies, Mollway said.
He said Lui has done excellent work for the commission in the past, "so this was very baffling. I really don't understand it."
Tokuda said Lui is in Japan with his family, and attempts to reach him have not been successful. A message on his business telephone says Lui will be gone until Saturday.
In May, Mollway said he confronted Lui about a report that he clapped and cheered when the Senate rejected Young's confirmation, and Lui said he was just expressing his opinion.
However, since then, Mollway said he received eight other complaints against Lui.
Committee member Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kaneohe Bay-Kailua) said she will ask the committee to remove Lui as its investigator.
"From Mr. Mollway's letter, he has exhibited partisanship against Peter Young and can't conduct an impartial investigation," Thielen said.