WAILUKU >> The Maui County Council is considering spending up to $10,000 for a special counsel to defend Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson against alleged ethics violations.
Maui Council could
foot legal bill
By Gary T. Kubota
The eight-member Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on a resolution authorizing Johnson's special counsel on July 19. The Council's Committee of the Whole voted 5-1 Tuesday to support the resolution, with two Council members recusing themselves from voting.
Clifford Beppu, managing general partner of Maalaea Triangle Partnership, has brought a complaint to the county Board of Ethics, charging that Johnson should not have testified against a proposal for a golf and water park.
Beppu said her testimony at the Feb. 26 meeting was improper and violated the partnership's right to due process by exerting influence of her elected office against Planning Commission members.
Anthony Ranken, an attorney representing Johnson, said he believes his client was within her rights to testify before the commission.
"There's no violation of the code of ethics," Ranken said. "We're confident this will be dismissed sooner or later," he said.
Under the Council resolution, an attorney would be paid $175 a hour up to $10,000 to represent Johnson before the Ethics Board.
The Corporation Counsel's Office recommended hiring a private attorney because of the potential conflict arising from it representing the county Board of Ethics and Johnson.
County of Maui
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