Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 17:  Public Pressure Forces a Political Shift
    • What do you think should happen to an employee who spends trust money in strip bars?  How could that sort of thing be prevented from happening again?
    • Do you think there is anything wrong with using charitable trust funds to entertain government officials?  Why or why not?
    • Representative Ed Case had 31 co-sponsors of his bill, but all of them changed their minds after being contacted by Bishop Estate personnel.  Why do you think so many changed their minds? 
    • Explain the cartoon on page 223.
    • What did Representative Case mean when he described Bishop Estate as having a “direct pipeline into the inner workings of the Supreme Court?”  What, if anything, would be wrong with that?
    • How much money should be paid to Bishop Estate trustees each year?  Should the amount be determined by formula?  If so, what should the formula be?  If not, who would determine it, and what guidelines should they follow?
    • On page 226 the authors ask if it was a conflict of interest for Bishop Estate employees and consultants to vote on the reasonable-compensation bill.  What do you think?  Who, if anyone, should have the power to prevent legislators who have a conflict of interest from voting?  How does that differ from the system described in the book?
    • Gladys Brandt was concerned that trustee Lindsey might apologize, or promise to do better.  Why did this concern Brandt?  If you were Lindsey, would you have apologized or promised to do better?  Why or why not?
    • The trustees paid $300,000 to lawyers to prepare the papers to move the trust situs to a South Dakota Indian reservation.  What is a “trust situs?”  Even if this just meant a move of trust administration (and not the school) outside Hawaii, what do you think Princess Pauahi would have thought about that?  Was that an appropriate use of trust funds?  Who should be the one to decide what is, and isn’t, an appropriate use of trust funds?