POSTED: 1:52 p.m. HST, Mar 6, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 2:53 p.m. HST, Mar 6, 2014
State House Speaker Joseph Souki on Thursday issued a letter of reprimand to Rep. Faye Hanohano for her recent conduct.
Hanohano, the chairwoman of the House Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, had been accused of abusive, racially discriminatory and inappropriate behavior during committee hearings.
Souki concluded that the complaints against Hanohano (D, Hawaiian Acres- Pahoa-Kalapana) were valid. The speaker described her conduct as "unacceptable," a violation of the House code of conduct, and disruptive to the workplace.
Souki informed Hanohano that House leaders would monitor her conduct and that any future incident would result in her removal from all committee assignments.
On Feb. 18, Department of Land & Natural Resources director William Aila, Jr. wrote a letter of complaint to Souki detailing several incidents in which Hanohano allegedly made disparaging comments toward DLNR staff at committee hearings.
Hanohano, who is Native Hawaiian, allegedly made remarks about how land was stolen from many Hawaiians, implied that a department staffer was responsible for genocide, and complained about malihini (newcomers) making policy decisions.
"DLNR leadership and staff have no level of confidence in testifying before a hearing in which Rep. Hanohano is present that they will be treated fairly or with respect by her," Aila wrote.
The letter came a few days after a Hawaii Pacific University student claimed he was treated rudely by Hanohano at a committee hearing in February when he testified in favor of a bill to protect sharks and rays. He said she made dismissive comments about Westerners and about his age.
Souki later apologized for her comments on behalf of the House.
It is the second year in a row that Hanohano's actions have been an unwanted distraction for House leadership during the legislative session.
On Feb. 28, 2013, Hanohano apologized to anyone offended by racial and ethnic slurs she made earlier that week after being unhappy with artwork installed in her state Capitol office.
Exhibit specialists with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts had complained that Hanohano went on a tirade, which included words such as "haoles," "Japs," and "Pakes," because none of the art being installed in her office was from Native Hawaiian artists. "I humbly apologize to all of you who may have been offended by sentiments expressed that were taken into the news media," she told her colleagues on the House floor last year.