Reporter to be honored for breaking story about mayor

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — West Hawaii Today government reporter Nancy Cook Lauer is being honored for her work in breaking the story of former Mayor Billy Kenoi’s misuse of a county-issued credit card, known as a pCard.

The Big Island Press Club will celebrate Cook Lauer as the club’s 2017 Torch of Light winner during its annual Christmas Luncheon Dec. 9, West Hawaii Today reported .

Cook Lauer said she has won many awards, but this one means the most because it’s “in recognition of almost five years of persistent questioning, trying to get at the facts despite government stonewalling.”

Kenoi admitted before the county Board of Ethics in 2016 that he violated the purchasing policy by misusing his county-issued purchasing card. He was acquitted during a criminal trial shortly before he termed out of office.

The state based its charges on 15 pCard transactions totaling more than $4,000 from 2011-14 that it argued were personal expenses or did not include receipts. Kenoi reimbursed 14 of them. The reimbursements occurred between four and 26 months after the transactions took place.

“To be a reporter, you have to have a thick skin,” Cook Lauer said. “You can’t be all gaga over celebrities or top government officials.”