Tuesday | August 23, 2016
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Yagong, Kawauchi lawyer used to be county’s

HILO — A Kona attorney who transitioned from county legislative staff to the personal representation of County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi in a politically charged lawsuit says it’s not a conflict of interest for him to do so.

Frank Jung began working as the legislative branch legal specialist on Oct. 1. He was hired, he said, for a single project, determining if the Office of Corporation Counsel, the county’s official legal counsel, had a conflict of interest in the lawsuit.

He resigned from the position, which pays between $5,107 and $7,545 monthly, on Oct. 23. That same day, he notified attorney Ted Hong, who filed the lawsuit against the county, that he was representing Kawauchi in her personal capacity, according to an email Jung provided.

As of Friday, the county Department of Human Resources still showed Jung as an employee. But Yagong, who said he retained Jung as his personal attorney Oct. 24, said Monday that Jung has returned his uncashed paycheck. Finance Director Nancy Crawford was unable to determine Friday whether another paycheck was issued for the pay period ending Oct. 31.

“He did not receive a dime for work completed as legal specialist for the County of Hawaii,” Yagong said.

At issue are defamation lawsuits filed by fired Elections Administrator Pat Nakamoto and Senior Elections Clerk Shyla Ayau, alleging false and misleading information was leaked to the media about an investigation into drinking partie