Kapaau man files complaint against Ethics Board vice chairman

An ethics complaint was filed against one of Hawaii County’s Board of Ethics members.

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An ethics complaint was filed against one of Hawaii County’s Board of Ethics members.

Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland, who is pursuing a separate ethics complaint against Mayor Billy Kenoi for misuse of his county purchasing card, is alleging board vice chairman Ken Goodenow has not been impartial on the issue.

In the complaint submitted Tuesday, he cites an alleged conversation an anonymous woman overheard in Honolulu last May in which Goodenow is claimed to have said the ethics complaint against Kenoi would be delayed until the “mayor is no longer in office.” The conversation allegedly occurred outside a meeting of the state Campaign Spending Commission, on which Goodenow also serves.

Hyland declined to identify the woman during a phone interview but said she would be willing to testify under oath before the commission. He said the woman contacted him after realizing Goodenow sits on the Ethics Board.

The complaint alleges Goodenow appeared happy about the delay and was “laughing and making fun of it.”

“He’s tried to hold himself up as a neutral party … and I don’t believe that to be the truth,” Hyland said.

Goodenow, who said he prefers to wait until after Kenoi’s trial before handling the ethics complaint against the mayor, denied making the alleged statement and called the complaint “spurious.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I would have never said that.”

Goodenow said he doesn’t want to take up the complaint now because he sees that as impacting the mayor’s right to a fair trial. He denied that is giving the mayor preferential treatment. Kenoi’s trial is scheduled for October.

“It makes no difference if we have his ethics meeting in November or December,” Goodenow said, adding waiting until after the trial could allow Kenoi to answer more questions.

Hyland said it does make a difference since Kenoi is leaving office in December.

“The public wants to know the answer: Did the mayor commit a violation of the ethics code or not?” he said, expressing frustration about delays of his complaint, which he thinks are politically motivated.

If the trial was further delayed, Goodenow said he would support moving ahead with Kenoi’s ethics complaint, even if they overlapped.

It’s not clear if the ethics commission will accept the complaint against Goodenow.

The commission is slated to vote again Tuesday whether to accept the complaint against Kenoi.

The complaint was deferred last year while the criminal investigation into Kenoi’s use of his pCard for personal expenses was handled. The commission voted 2-2 on whether to proceed last May following the filing of criminal charges, resulting in the matter being deferred until the next meeting.

The commission’s June meeting was canceled because of scheduling issues, Goodenow said.

Kenoi is charged with two counts of second-degree theft, three counts each of third-degree theft and tampering with a government record, and a single count of making a false statement under oath.

He said he reimbursed the county for personal expenses.

In total, the mayor made almost $130,000 in charges on the card by the time it was revoked last year following local newspaper reports of him using the card to cover a hostess bar tab.

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Kenoi reimbursed the county for $31,112.59, about $9,500 of it after the newspapers published stories examining his pCard use.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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