Hawaii tourism chief faces possible firing

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The Hawaii Tourism Authority is expected to decide the week of Aug. 11 whether its president and CEO, Rex Johnson, should resign, be fired or be disciplined after pornography was found on his government email account.

According to sources, two board members approached Johnson about his possible resignation following an HTA executive session. The board’s three-member administrative committee met on Aug. 6 to discuss Johnson’s situation and recommend to the full, 12-member board what action to take. Johnson did not attend the meeting.

The board meets Aug. 12, at which time they’re expected to decide Johnson’s future with the HTA. Johnson will be allowed to discuss his situation with the board at that time, said Kelvin Bloom, the HTA’s chairman.

Specifics of the Aug. 6 board meeting are confidential, since it involves a personnel issue, Bloom said.

In a phone interview, Johnson said he "made a huge mistake.”

“I have apologized for my actions to the board,” he added.

Johnson said he had received the emails on his government account and forwarded some to friends. He emphatically said none of the adult material was sent to business contacts.

Such material on a state computer is prohibited. State personnel guidelines prohibit accessing or downloading sexually explicit material. Johnson’s emails were discovered by a state auditor.

The HTA is governed by an appointed board with 12 voting members and four nonvoting members: Gov. Linda Lingle’s tourism liaison and the directors of the state Department of Transportation, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Johnson, who earns $240,000 a year, took over the HTA post in 2002.

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