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Rep. Fukumoto Seeks to Switch Parties After Trump Criticism

February 2, 2017, 10:04 AM HST
* Updated February 2, 10:10 AM
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Rep. Beth Fukumoto
Image source: www.millennialaction.org/

Republicans in the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives on Wednesday ousted Rep. Beth Fukumoto (Chang) of Mililani from her role as House Minority Leader after she criticized President Donald Trump and spoke out against his treatment of women and minorities at the Women’s March in Honolulu last month.

Rep. Fukumoto said her party and caucus asked her to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term, a commitment she said she could not make.

“As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families,” said Rep. Fukumoto.

“In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” Rep. Fukumoto stated in a press release yesterday. ” I am under constant scrutiny for working across the aisle to pass common sense legislation that will benefit my district and the people of Hawai‘i.

“Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our president’s treatment of women and minorities,” Rep. Fukumoto said. “I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawai‘i a better place for our families.”

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Rep. Fukumoto sent a letter to her district on Wednesday explaining that she would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party, and sought input and consultation from her constituents before any decision is made.

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“This morning, I sent a letter to my district explaining that I would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party,” Rep. Fukumoto continued. ” When I was re-elected in November, I was elected as a Republican, and I want to honor my community’s choice by consulting them before any decision is made. As I articulated in my letter, I encourage my constituents to contact me with input and provide feedback. I was elected by the people of Mililani, and I am here to represent them.”

Leaders of the Women’s March stood in support of Rep. Fukumoto, thanking her for being a part of the global movement and calling efforts to oust her from her leadership role “un-American.”

The Women’s March is a movement founded for women and everyone that supports them, no matter their religious beliefs, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability or party affiliation, according to a press release issued by Sherry Campagna, the march’s local media contact.

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“As Americans, we have the right to come together, march and demand equal treatment under the law, the press release stated. “That is why we here at the Women’s March Hawai‘i are so dismayed that the Republican members of the Hawai‘i State House would choose to punish Rep. Fukumoto Chang for participating in the Women’s March on O‘ahu on Jan. 21, 2017.

“Their decision to remove Rep. Fukumoto as House Minority Leader just for showing up and speaking hopefully about the future of our country is un-American in our view and a slap in the face for the women of Hawai‘i,” the march press release stated.

“Since its inception, the Women’s March has been and continues to be a non-partisan Movement because we believe that women’s rights are not a party issue; they are a human rights issue,” the release continued. “We were grateful for Beth having the courage to be a part of the march, to speak her mind so eloquently, on the future of this country and this planet. From all of us here at Women’s March Hawai‘i we are proud to say ‘Mahalo nui loa’ to Rep. Fukumoto for standing with her fellow citizens and for being part of this global movement.”

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