Hawaii House of Representatives, Speaker Emeritus Joseph M. Souki, Alleged Violations of Fair Treatment Law
Resolution of Investigation 2018-2
March 16, 2018
From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, Posted March 21, 2018 (excerpts)
(Editor's Note: This is only coming out because Souki tried to overthrow Speaker Scott Saiki. Since no factional interest is served, the names of the legislature's other three sex-harassers--two more State Representatives and one State Senator--are still being withheld. This assumes Souki is among the three unnamed State Representatives and one State Senator mentioned in an Associated Press article, Dec 22, 2017.)
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) has resolved an Investigation of Speaker Emeritus Joseph M. Souki (“Respondent Souki”), for alleged violations of the State Ethics Code, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) chapter 84. The investigation involved allegations that Respondent Souki sexually harassed multiple women by subjecting them to unwanted kissing, touching, and sexual language.
The alleged violations came to the attention of the Commission by way of a complaint from Rachael Wong, former Director of the Department of Human Services. Upon investigation, the Commission staff received allegations of similar unwanted and inappropriate conduct by Respondent Souki from several other women.
Respondent Souki admitted the following facts:
a. Respondent Souki, at all times relevant herein, was an elected member of Hawaii’s House of Representatives. He was first elected to office in 1982 and has served continuously since that time. He served as Speaker of the House from 1993 to 1999 and again from 2013 to 2017.
b. The House of Representatives is a “state agency” as defined by HRS § 84-3. Respondent Souki, at all times relevant herein, was a state legislator and was therefore required to comply with the State Ethics Code.
c. The House of Representatives’ internal rules prohibit sexual harassment
The Commission investigated Respondent Souki’s actions, and as set forth above, Respondent Souki admits to inappropriate and unwanted sexual comments, kissing, and touching.
Because of his power as Speaker over legislation and budgeting questions, women were reticent to confront Respondent Souki or to file a complaint with the House of Representatives regarding his conduct. For example, then-Director Wong was responsible for a state department with a budget of $3.3 billion, consisting of “four divisions, two attached agencies, two attached commissions, and six staff offices.” …. Challenging then-Speaker Souki’s conduct could have jeopardized her agency’s budget and legislation, thereby impairing her advocacy efforts on behalf of Hawaii’s children and families. She, like others, felt she had no choice but to remain silent in the face of Respondent Souki’s behavior. The Ethics Code was designed to prevent such abuses of power by state government officials….
III. Resolution of Investigation
The Commission believes that, based on the facts admitted above, Respondent Souki likely violated the Fair Treatment Law (HRS § 84-13).
Based on the circumstances in this case, the Commission believes that it is reasonable, fair, and in the public interest to resolve this investigation as follows:
(1) Issuing this Resolution of Investigation;
(2) Requiring Respondent Souki to resign his position as a member of the House of Representatives, effective no later than March 30, 2018;
(3) Requiring Respondent Souki to issue a public apology for his conduct;
(4) Requiring Respondent Souki to pay an administrative penalty of $5,000 to the State of Hawaii; and
(5) Requiring Respondent Souki to agree not to seek or accept any public office for a period of two years….
read … Full Report
PDF: Statement from Rachael Wong in response to Resolution of Investigation 2018-02
BIN: Speaker Scott Saiki Statement
NR: GOVERNOR’S STATEMENT ON HAWAII STATE ETHICS COMMISSION REPORT
CB: House Harassment Policy Puts Speaker In Charge Of All Complaints
Ethics Comm Better Path than Civil Rights Commission or EEOC? -- Wong stressed that she will receive no personal benefit or compensation from filing her complaint with the ethics commission. She served on the Honolulu Ethics Commission from 2010 to 2014, and was familiar with the ethics commission’s jurisdiction, “and so I quietly went that route.” “I did not file a lawsuit. I do not seek financial compensation or personal gain. I want to be clear that I respect those who file through the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or through the court system; I just chose a different route,” she said in her statement. – Star-Adv: March 21, 2018