from House Republican Caucus, April 18, 2023
HONOLULU - On Monday, Republican Caucus members gathered to respond to the Civil Beat article (below) where Representative Kanani Souza made allegations against colleagues.
House Republican Leader Representative Lauren Matsumoto takes the lead in making the following Statement:
“As the House Republican Leader, I have always valued unity and collaboration among our members. I am here today along with my caucus members to address Representative Souza’s allegations recently released in the press. What sets the Republican Party apart is that we do not dictate the votes or actions of each Representative. Instead, we work individually for our communities and come together for the state of Hawaii.” Representative Matsumoto continues, “Our Caucus stands here today as a united front representing hundreds of thousands of residents and families in Hawaii that uphold conservative values.
Representative Kanani Souza, is the only Republican who has opted out of participating in the caucus because she doesn’t agree with the caucus. It is unclear why she continues to be a Republican. She didn’t participate with the Republican Party during the election, she hasn't participated in our caucus meetings or events, and she hasn’t voted with conservative values. She calls herself a moderate conservative but the only thing she votes against is gun restrictions. Representative Souza has always been invited to join our caucus but has refused to participate.
As an elected official, it is Representative Souza's right to disagree with the Republican party platform and make her own choices. However, Representative Kanani Souza has tried time and time again to create division and discord within our caucus ever since she was not elected by our members as the minority leader, including the continual bullying of our members and staff. There is a difference between disagreement and dissension. I will not allow her to leverage any single issue to divide us. In addition, Representative Souza has filed several ethics complaints against our caucus and caucus members in an attempt to ruin our credibility. To date, not one of them has been founded or substantiated by official investigators. We have always conducted ourselves ethically and above board.
I have intentionally refrained from participating in the ongoing social media commentary and other press communications Representative Souza has leveraged against us. She is trying to play a political game. We are not here to play political games but to serve the people of Hawaii.
As an elected official, Representative Souza is allowed to make her own personal decisions. However, continuing to attack and belittle our caucus is a waste of time and taxpayer money. Our caucus is focused on working on the issues like cost of living, rising crime, and housing, not political games. We have one dissenting member, but the rest of us stand united and will continue to work hard for the people of Hawaii,” concluded Representative Lauren Matsumoto.
After filming this short video with their public response, each of the members also had a statement.
Floor Leader Representative Garcia states that “Not everyone in the State of Hawaii subscribes to the national narrative of progressivism. Our caucus represents the silenced, the pushed aside, mocked, and often belittled for their conservative values.” He goes on, “Mocking her colleagues on the floor and actively working against them does little to solidify her leadership or benefit the struggling families of Hawaii.”
“As the Senior member of the caucus, I have seen many members come and go during my few decades in the Legislature. But I have never seen a freshman member on day one want to be the minority leader and then hold a grudge against her caucus for six months since not getting her way,” said Policy Leader Representative Gene Ward.
“By her behavior against her fellow caucus members, whom she has refused to join in with, I can only conclude that she is a disgruntled freshman that has not come to grips with the fact that she can't become our leader despite her attitude of superiority and disdain for her colleagues!”
“As a newly elected representative, I feel that our leader Lauren Matsumoto is doing an awesome job. There has been a lot of training from her and her staff in helping all of the members and employees to work efficiently, productively, and well organized. If my staff needed help, they were there,” says Assistant Leader Representative David Alcos. He continues, “If anything, our caucus is getting stronger as every week goes by. As a freshman Republican Representative, I 100% stand behind my caucus. All Republican members have treated me and my staff as if we are their own ohana.
”Assistant Floor Leader Representative Elijah Pierick adds, “The Hawaii Republican caucus at the House of Representatives is united. There has always been an open invitation for Representative Souza to join us.”
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Rep Kanani Souza Says Republican Caucus Is ‘A Cult’
CB April 17, 2023: … Disillusioned freshman state Rep. Kanani Souza has declined to participate in caucus meetings with her fellow House Republicans since January, and is now describing the GOP caucus in the House as “a cult.”
Officially, Souza is still the minority whip for the six House Republicans, but said in an interview she limits her interactions with the other five almost entirely to mail or text. She said she is now “under investigation” because of a complaint filed against her, but says she has never actually seen the complaint.
“What bothers me is they don’t argue in law and fact. They are arguing based on personal beliefs, based on religious beliefs,” said Souza, who described herself as a moderate conservative.
“It’s just a lot of things where you can’t really say what you want to say because they’re not willing to have an educated discussion,” she said. “It’s non-stop trying to use religion to try to get everybody to be quiet — or me, in particular.”…
She said she also became concerned about having Republican minority research office staff in caucus meetings, which she felt was inappropriate because opinionated staff members seemed to have an outsized influence on the decision making.
She asked that staff be excused at one meeting when she wanted to discuss the firing of a staff member, and Matsumoto told her she wanted the staff to stay.
Later in the same meeting Souza suggested a different staff member should be fired, and Souza believes that prompted one or more caucus members to file the pending complaint against Souza. She believes Matsumoto encouraged staff to file the complaint….
Souza also took issue with a radio show the caucus has been producing that is underwritten by developer Peter Savio. She said she considers that “a clear ethical violation, that’s accepting a gift to push your agenda.”….
Souza said she raised some of her concerns with House Speaker Scott Saiki — the top House Democrat — who offered to discuss Souza’s frustration with Matsumoto. “Things have just been downhill since then,” Souza said….
Souza said she will not consider quitting the party even if her troubles with the other Republicans continue. …
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read … One Hawaii GOP House Leader Says Her Caucus Is ‘A Cult’