HONOLULU — An Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee accused of making a business inquiry involving the Thirty Meter Telescope after publicly advocating for its construction will pay a $25,000 fine to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, officials said.

The commission announced on Wednesday that trustee Peter Apo was fined for violating ethics laws by using his state office, staff and resources multiple times for business purposes. He owns The Peter Apo Co.

The commission said Apo solicited the developer of the telescope project for cultural consulting work.

The commission also accused Apo of using his position to enrich himself by swaying Office of Hawaiian Affair’s board members to amend their position on the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory.

Apo released a statement saying he accepts responsibility for his errors. He apologized to his fellow trustees.

Officials say Apo forwarded Office of Hawaiian Affairs emails to his private email account and when he would respond with his private email address, it would contain contact information for his private company.

In addition, Apo was accused of using his trustee aides to do work for his company, with one aide paid by the company.

“Trustee Apo did the right thing by cooperating fully with the Ethics Commission’s inquiry and took responsibility for his conduct,” Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Colette Machado said. “The resolution, with no further action, gives Trustee Apo the opportunity to learn from his errors and to move forward.”

The commission did not issue a charge against Apo, stating it “believes it is reasonable, fair and in the public interest to resolve this investigation” by issuing a resolution of the investigation and requiring Apo to pay an administrative penalty to the state.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.