Let attorney general investigate Bureau of Conveyances
The director of the state Ethics Committee said he will not forward a report on the state Bureau of Conveyances because of the investigator's bias.
BLINDERS worn by senators in rejecting the reappointment of Peter Young as director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources extended to their selection of an avid Young opponent to investigate allegations of misconduct within the department's Bureau of Conveyances. Their giddy opposition to Young and hopes to link him to wrongdoing demonstrate that such probes should be left to the attorney general.
If senators were unaware of private investigator Hilton Lui's opposition to Young's reappointment, they were remiss. As a strange part of the confirmation process, Lui testified behind closed doors before the Senate Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee about his investigation of the Bureau of Conveyances for the state Ethics Commission.
If Lui was not asked about or did not openly reveal his opposition to Young before the committee, he did not hide his feelings when the Senate rejected the confirmation. Dan Mollway, chairman of the state Ethics Commission, said he confronted Lui about a report that Lui clapped and cheered when the Senate voted against Young. Lui responded that he was just expressing his opinion, Mollway said.
Mollway said he has received eight other complaints against Lui since then. Those included a report that Lui lobbied a senator to vote against Young's confirmation. As a result of Lui's bias against Young, Mollway said he will not turn over his report to a special Senate-House committee investigating allegations that bureau employees received gifts, trips to Las Vegas and hotel upgrades from companies using the bureau's services.
The Ethics Commission paid Lui $14,860 for work performed from February to May, according to Mollway. However, Mollway said he regards Lui's report to be defective because of his demonstrated bias against Young's reappointment. He said he is "baffled" by the conduct because Lui, an FBI agent for 23 years, has done excellent work as a private investigator used by the Ethics Commission.
The Senate-House committee hired Lui in June. Following Lui's secret testimony before the Senate committee, the move was a strong indication that Lui's tainted findings in his work for the Ethics Commission were more desirable than any product of an independent investigation.
Mollway said in a letter to the joint committee that the commission's work must be "absolutely impartial." That standard is not required of the Legislature. Indeed, Sen. Jill Tokuda, the committee's co-chairwoman, said she and House Speaker Joe Souki "are not rendering an opinion as to the quality of Hilton Lui's work for the Ethics Commission or the conclusions in that investigation." The joint "fact-finding" committee was created by a resolution approved by this year's Legislature. Legislators could regain a modicum of rectitude by ceding to the attorney general the job of investigating the bureau, as Young asked when he was director of the department.
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