- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - The Hawaii County Board of Ethics plans to discuss whether Mayor Billy Kenoi should have been filing gift disclosures over the past six years.

The issue is at the top of the agenda for the board’s meeting Wednesday in Hilo, West Hawaii Today (https://bit.ly/1DZf9BT ) reported. The board will also be discussing a citizen’s petition charging that Kenoi violated the county ethics code while using his county-issued credit card for personal and campaign expenses.

The mayor has paid back $31,112.59 of the $129,580.73 he charged on the card during his tenure. In April, the Hawaii attorney general’s office said it will investigate Kenoi’s use of his credit card, after he acknowledged using it to cover personal expenses that included nearly $900 at a bar.

On the matter of gifts, the mayor’s credit-card paperwork shows he has received reimbursements for travel, most notably $3,657 from the Big Island Visitors Bureau to cover a 2010 trip to Japan. Kenoi and tourism officials met with airline officials during that trip as they tried to jump-start the resumption of direct Japan-Kona commercial flights.

George Applegate, the then-executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau, has since joined Kenoi’s staff on a $50,000, one-year, 24-hour-a-week contract that began in December. Applegate did not return a detailed telephone message left Friday morning at the county Department of Research and Development office.

Hawaii County officers and employees are prohibited from accepting gifts where it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence them in the performance of their official duties. Other gifts valued at more than $100 must be reported to the Board of Ethics by June 30 each year. Failure to do so could result in fines up to $1,000.

An Ethics Board staffer said Friday that the board has no record of gift disclosures submitted by the mayor. A spokesman for the mayor said Friday that the office was still in the process of putting the reports together.


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

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