Grassroot Calls for Audit of State Use of Outside Counsel
Watchdog group says public deserves full accounting of use of state funds
News Release from Grassroot Institute
HONOLULU, HAWAII--March 24, 2015--Today, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii spoke out in favor of a comprehensive audit that would take closer look at any use of state funds for the hiring of outside counsel. The remarks came in response to a legislative hearing on HCR 207 and HR 143, a pair of resolutions that request the auditor to examine the practice of hiring outside law firms on the part of state departments or agencies.
"This is a question of fundamental accountability and efficiency," stated Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute. "The fact that taxpayer funds are consistently used in an effort to bypass the state attorney general's office--when a large part of their function is advising state agencies--raises serious concerns about the motives and management involved. If the claim is that the AG's office is not able to fulfill their duties, then that is something we deserve to know. However, if the truth is that state actors are choosing to hide from or avoid the oversight of the state's legal experts by seeking outside counsel, then we could be looking at ethically dubious behavior and a major misuse of state funds."
Dr. Akina continued: "From agencies like the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to organizations like HART that are entrusted with significant state funds, there is a need for greater accountability from the ground up. It should begin with an audit that explores the use of outside counsel, whether engaged for litigation, advice, or lobbying. And it should end with a comprehensive examination of spending practices, budget, and future plans. As guardians of the public trust in government, the legislature must look more closely into the operations and expenditures of any organization that uses public funds."
Text, Status: HCR 207 and HR 143