Rep. Joe Souki resigns after admitting sexual harassment
A complaint was filed last fall with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission by the former head of Hawaii's Department of Human Services.
HONOLULU - Former House Speaker Joe Souki is being forced to resign after admitting that he sexually harassed numerous women while serving at his State Capitol office. It's one of several disciplinary actions taken against Souki by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. Multiple women, including former Department of Human Services Director Rachael Wong, filed complaints against him.
House Speaker Scott Saiki just releasing this statement-- saying "It is regrettable that a legislative career that spanned 36 years is ending in such a manner. As a legislator, Representative Souki always put his constituents first" adding "Maui will lose an able and courageous advocate." Saiki says "The House of Representatives takes a zero-tolerance approach to workplace harassment, no matter the power or influence of the accused." He goes on to say-- they've already increased training for house members and staff so that everyone feels safe in the workplace.
A complaint was filed last fall with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission by the former head of Hawaii's Department of Human Services. Rachael Wong is declining to say any more about the allegations pending the investigation. Souki's lawyer says the allegations stem from something that happened three years ago and is a misunderstanding.
An earlier statement from House Speaker Scott Saiki Thursday said: "The House of Representatives takes matters of workplace harassment very seriously. In 2017, the House instituted a mandatory annual workplace harassment training for all House members and permanent employees (previously, the training had occurred every two years). At the training, employees are advised to report complaints to the House Chief Clerk."
"It's my understanding that the Ethics Commission is currently investigating this matter. We will await the Ethics Commission's findings and recommendations before deciding any course of action."