Maui News

Hawaiʻi Senate Minority Leader Requests FBI, FTA and State To Investigate HART

June 22, 2021, 10:50 AM HST
* Updated June 22, 12:34 PM
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Hawaiʻi Senate Minority Leader Kurt Fevella wants the FBI, FTA and the State of Hawaiʻi Attorney General to investigate the Honolulu Authority of Rapid Transportation (HART). File Photo Courtesy: honolulurailtransit.org

Hawaiʻi Senate Minority Leader Kurt Fevella (District 19) sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Transit Administration and the Attorney General of the State of Hawaiʻi asking the three agencies to investigate the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART). 

Minority Leader Fevella said HART should be investigated for: 

  • Violating state procurement laws during the pre-solicitation, solicitation or submission phases of two bids issued for Honolulu Rail Transit Project, a federally funded project. 
  • Possible criminal acts by a city official related to the HART Board’s request for the approval to issue and sell rail general obligation bonds. 
  • Possible violations of the Hawaiʻi Sunshine law. 

Potential Procurement Violations:

A recent Honolulu Civil Beat article reported that HART Board Chair Toby Martyn discussed the board consultant solicitation with former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa over lunch 10 days prior to the public release of the bid. 

Minority Leader Fevella also points to emails from January 2021 that reference discussions between HART Interim Executive Director/CEO Lori Kahikina and Board Member Lynn McCrory regarding plans to retain Denis Dyer of Williams & Jensen, PLC, as HART’s Federal Government Liaison prior to the public release of this bid solicitation. 

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 “I request each of your departments, as may be applicable, determine if these actions amount to an illegal practice of bid rigging or any other violations punishable by law,” Minority Leader Fevella wrote in the letterf.  

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Potential Criminal Acts

In January 2020, HART Board Chair Toby Martyn voted with a majority of the board to approve more than $292 million in rail bonds to pay for construction on the rail project.  It was reported that Martyn’s firm, Stifel Financial Corp. was one of eight investment companies selected to sell those bonds.  

Minority Leader Fevella said he believes Martyn’s action of voting to approve the issuance and sale of those rail bonds are in violation of the city’s ethics code because county officials are barred from voting on matters that they have a financial interest in.  

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“While Hawaiʻi News Now recently reported on Mr. Martyn’s role of approving more than $292 million in rail bonds to pay for the construction of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, I request your investigation be expanded to include a review of Mr. Martyn’s voting record of earlier fiscal year rail bond issuances while he served as a member of the HART Board and later as its Chair,” Minority Leader Fevella said.  

Potential Sunshine Violations

The aforementioned Civil Beat article also included emails dated Dec. 7 to Dec. 10, 2020 that documents discussions amongst Board Chair Toby Martyn, Board Member Lynn McCrory and Board Member Hoyt Zia. According to State Sunshine Law, no more than two board members may discuss board business outside of a meeting if no commitment to vote is made or sought.  

Minority Leader Fevella is asking the Hawaiʻi State Attorney General’s Office to “provide advice as to whether these referenced action by three board members violates the Hawaiʻi Sunshine Law, and if so, initiate appropriate legal action to enforce the law.” 

“The Honolulu Rail Transit Project is financed by a surcharge on local taxes approved by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature,” said Minority Leader Fevella. “ As a member of this body, I am extremely concerned about the current management of HART and the action of HART Board Members who have a fiduciary duty, as stewards of the public trust, to always act for the good of the HART organizations rather than for the benefit of themselves.” 

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