Souki Reprimands Hanohano, Threatens Removal of Chairmanship
House Speaker Joe Souki today reprimanded Big Island Rep. Faye Hanohano, telling her any future “disruptive behavior” will result in her removal from her committee assignments and possible further disciplinary action by the House.
Hanohano, who represents lower Puna, became the subject of an investigation by House leaders last month as a result of comments she made to an Oahu college student who testified before the Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee she chairs.
That was soon followed by a letter from Department of Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila Jr. that said Hanohano had a history of abusive treatment toward DLNR staff.
Souki’s letter of reprimand today said that his investigation of those complaints showed they were “valid” and “substantially accurate.”
He said that her conduct was “unacceptable,” “disruptive” and in violation of the House Code of Legislative Conduct.
The letter said Hanohano’s conduct during the public hearings “was intimidating and displayed, at a minimum, a lack of respect and courtesy ….”
Souki said her references to the student’s age and ethnicity “lessened public confidence in the integrity of the House of Representatives.”
He went on to say that he believed a letter of reprimand did not go far enough.
“During our discussions of this matter, you have assured me that in the future you will conduct yourself as a member of the House fairly, without rancor, and with respect and courtesy to both the public and to state agencies and employees.
“Despite these assurances, I believe that the formal public reprimand this letter represents is insufficient to prevent the recurrence of the disruptive behavior, unless it is accompanied by the threat of a loss of all committee assignments.”
Souki said the House leadership will continue to monitor Hanohano’s conduct for the remainder of the legislative session.
“If it is confirmed by me that a future incident of this nature has occurred, whether at the Capitol or elsewhere, I will immediately remove you from all committee assignments, as is provided under Section 27.3 (of the House Administrative and Financial Manual), and will refer these matters to the House for further disciplinary action,” the letter concluded.
Hanohano had also come under scrutiny in 2013 for racial comments she made to workers installing art in her office.
A woman answering the phone at Hanohano’s office at the Capitol said the representative would not be commenting on the matter.