- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Some of the personal purchases Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi made on his county-issued credit card include a $1,200 surfboard and nearly $2,000 worth of bicycle equipment.

According to county financial documents, Kenoi paid back more than $22,000 in personal charges between January 2009 and March 2015.

The recently released records come after Kailua-Kona newspaper West Hawaii Today reported that Kenoi used his county credit card to charge nearly $900 at a Honolulu hostess bar in 2013. At hostess bars, patrons buy drinks for themselves and for hostesses who sit with patrons.

Kenoi, a married father of three who completed last year’s Kona Ironman triathlon, paid another $7,500 in charges and interest on Tuesday for purchases that were made in conjunction with official county business, the newspaper (https://ow.ly/L8HAY ) reported. He said he made the payment to err on the side of caution.

There’s no excuse or justification for his poor judgment, Kenoi said.

“I expect and demand the best of myself and those around me,” he said. “Clearly, I need to do a better job of meeting those expectations. I would like to apologize to those whom I’ve disappointed and will continue to work every day to earn back your support and trust.”

He hasn’t explained why he used the county card instead of a personal one.

Other charges include: $700 at a karaoke bar across the street from Kenoi’s Hilo office, $566 for his state bar association dues and about $78 in sportswear from the Honolulu Quiksilver store.

The newspaper routinely reviews spending of top-level county officials. Repeated attempts by the newspaper to obtain copies of the Kenoi’s credit card statements have been turned back. County Finance Department officials have refused to provide statements, instead compiling summaries of charges incurred by the mayor and other top officials. It took nearly a year for a clarified request under the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act to be acted upon.

The charges could affect Kenoi’s possible political aspirations, said Todd Belt, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

“We live in a world where everything is digitized. Every Twitter joke can come back to cause problems later on,” Belt said.

There are two years left on Kenoi’s term.


Information from: West Hawaii Today, https://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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