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

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 20:  “Healing” and “Closure”

    • Explain why the deputy attorneys general were “shocked” by the interim trustees’ hiring decisions.  What was the perceived problem?  Do you tend to agree with the deputies or with the interim trustees?  Why?
    • The last paragraph on page 270 describes courtroom arguments made by one of the interim trustees’ lawyers.  He accused attorneys from the attorney general’s office as serving politicians who coveted Bishop Estate wealth.  Do you agree with his accusations?  Why or why not?
    • The interim trustees decided not to assist in trying to hold accountable the former trustees for harm they caused the trust.  The stated reason was that they did not want to jeopardize $75 million of insurance coverage.  The deputy attorneys general were very critical of that decision.  Did you agree with the interim trustees, or with the deputy attorneys general?  Why?
    • The interim trustees asked to be paid $15,000 per month.  Did that seem reasonable to you?  Why or why not?
    • In your own words, explain why master Robert Richards was so critical of the lawyers who had represented the former trustees.  Do you basically agree with his criticism, or agree more with the follow-up report that was more sympathetic to those lawyers?  What should a lawyer do when the client seems to be doing something wrong?
    • Do you think the interim trustee made a good choice when they hired Hamilton McCubbin to be their trust’s first Chief Executive Officer (CEO)?  Why or why not?
    • The interim trustees abruptly fired their CEO amid charges of improper conduct, but then agreed to a confidential severance package worth $400,000 and declined to comment further.  Their explanation was that it was “time to move on.”  Do you agree with how the interim trustees handled this?  If you lack information needed to answer that question, what additional information would you need?  If the CEO deserved to be fired, why would the interim trustees pay him another $400,000 to leave quietly?
    • The list of changes sought by the IRS is at the top of page 278.  Do you think any of these demands were unreasonable?  Would you have agreed to make them all if you had been an interim trustee?
    • Explain the cartoon on page 280.
    • Explain the cartoon on page 281.
    • In your own words, explain why Monsignor Kekumano was so annoyed by the trustees’ use of the chapel to pray for “healing”?
    • This chapter ends with a question: “Why wouldn’t the new trustees want an open dialogue and free flow of information?”  Do you think that’s a fair question to ask?  Why or why not?