- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - The leader of a Hawaii electrical workers union who is accused of misusing the organization’s funds is defending himself for a $680,000 purchase of a Kauai beachfront home that serves as an office for union members.

Brian Ahakuelo said the two-bedroom home for members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 was a prudent investment. The purchase of the property, which closed in February, was funded by the 2014 sale of the union’s former headquarters, Hawaii News Now reported (https://bit.ly/1TdF1rN).

The union’s international office has found that Ahakuelo misused union money by buying first-class flights, making fraudulent credit card charges and paying “excessive salaries” to relatives, who also work for the union.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that five of Ahakuelo’s family members have worked for the union, including his wife and son. A financial filing says all five had pay ranges between $77,600 and $143,000. Ahakuelo earned more than $200,000 in 2015.

Critics say the purchase of the Kauai property is another example of lavish spending by Ahakuelo.

“Why you would need a retreat on Kauai? I don’t think a lot of members would understand that or want that,” said Teresa Morrison, former staff attorney for the union. “I can’t see why that would be necessary.”

Ahakuelo has denied any wrongdoing.

A union hearing on the allegations against him is scheduled for May 23.


Information from: KGMB-TV, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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