Angry Democrats want a Bernie Sanders delegate who made an obscene gesture on national television kicked out of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

The state party’s Hawaiian Affairs Caucus has filed a complaint against Chelsea Lyons Kent seeking her expulsion from the party. A second complaint was filed by Kealii Lopez and signed by four others.

Kent isn’t the only Democrat who has raised the ire of the party faithful in recent weeks. Democrats in Hawaii are also complaining about a former governor and the current mayor of Honolulu.

Kent, an unabashed Sanders supporter, has been under fire since her infamous gesture raising a middle finger over the heads of Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono at the Democratic National Convention was broadcast widely on television. It came as Hawaii was nominating Hillary Clinton for president.

Now, some Democrats want her out of the “big tent” because she is backing Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president, instead of Clinton.

As national television broadcast the Democratic National Convention presidential nomination roll call, Hawaii delegate Chelsea Lyons Kent gave the middle finger.
As national television broadcast the Democratic National Convention presidential nomination roll call, Hawaii delegate Chelsea Lyons Kent gave the middle finger. C-SPAN screenshot

The state party’s Hawaiian Affairs Caucus asked the Oahu County Committee to expel Kent.

“Videos and images of the event have been broadcast locally and nationally, bringing a significant level of embarrassment and shame to our party and, by proxy, our state,” the complaint reads.

While the Hawaiian Affairs Caucus said it supports “individual free expression,” it said that Kent violated the party’s constitution and platform. Kent is alleged to be in violation of the constitution because she does not support the party, as evidenced by flipping the bird.

The platform, meanwhile, is said to have been violated because Kent does not support “the rights of native Hawaiians and the preservation of native Hawaiian culture.” Kent’s behavior, the complaint explains, “is the antithesis of aloha.”

Leimomi Khan, chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Caucus, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Candidate Democratic Party chair Tim Vandeveer, 2nd day of the HI State Democratic Convention. 29 may 2016.
Tim Vandeveer arguing in support of his candidacy to be state party chair at the Democratic Party’s state convention May 29 in Waikiki. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

‘Reality Star With A Spray Tan’

A second complaint against Kent was lodged Aug. 26. It was also delivered to the Oahu County Committee.

It argues Kent should be expelled because she has violated party bylaws that say a Democrat cannot actively support or promote a political party or candidate other than the Democratic Party and its candidates. The complaint includes a link to a YouTube video in which Kent explained why she could never support Clinton and is instead backing the Green Party’s Stein.

The video, “Stop Mind Raping Me Into Voting For Hillary Clinton,” was posted Aug. 15 and included this comment from Kent: “Please stop telling me that I have to vote for Hillary Clinton. If she can’t beat a reality star with a spray tan who thinks Mexicans are rapists on her own then she probably should’t be president of the United States.”

Kealii Lopez, the author of the complaint that was signed by four others, said, “I believe that it’s an internal matter for the Democratic Party. Therefore, I have no comment.”

Kent could not be reached Wednesday.

A streak of complaints against Democratic Party members began even before the primary election.

One charges that former Gov. Ben Cayetano, former party chair Walter Heen and current Council member Ann Kobayashi — all Democrats — are violating party rules by supporting Charles Djou, who is running against Caldwell for mayor. Djou, though he is in a nonpartisan contest, previously served in Congress and in the Legislature under the GOP banner.

A letter, authored by David Mulinix and six others was sent to the Oahu County Committee, citing the party’s own constitution: “Every member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii shall support candidates who are members of the Party and request the Party’s support in the general, special or nonpartisan elections.”

The letter expresses worry that the top Dems’ endorsement of Djou led to “Djou taking thousands of Democratic Party votes away from Kirk Caldwell.”

Caldwell bested Djou by less than 1 percentage point in the primary and the two candidates are now in a hard-fought battle and headed for the Nov. 8 general election.

Mulinix and company want the party to “take further action to discipline” Cayetano, Heen and Kobayashi but left it to the party whether to censure, reprimand or expel the three Democrats.

“The reason I wrote the complaint is that I am in shock that there are Democrats who are helping Republicans,” Mulinix said Wednesday, “not only campaigning and fundraising for them, even though Republicans are completely working against the Democratic Party platform.”

On the other hand, Mulinix is also unhappy that some Democrats have filed complaints against Kent. He also supported Sanders.

He called the complaint against her “a vendetta, a mafia hit.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is also in the Democratic doghouse for supporting Honolulu City Council member Kymberly Pine. Pine is running for re-election in a nonpartisan race, but she served in the Hawaii Legislature as a Republican. Caldwell is a longtime Democrat.

Kioni Dudley filed a complaint Wednesday with the state party. He accused Caldwell of violating the party’s constitution and bylaws in supporting Pine.

“Besides putting out the clear message to vote for Pine, he raised thousands and thousands of dollars for her, writing to rich contributors encouraging them to attend her elegant fundraisers,” Dudley said in a press release.

Caldwell’s campaign issued a statement from the mayor Wednesday afternoon: “I have always been a strong Democrat, and I did support Kymberly Pine in a nonpartisan race because she wants to build rail as a way to improve the quality of life for people on the west side of Oahu.”

Dudley lost badly to Pine in the primary. He also ran as a Green candidate for governor in 1994, losing to Cayetano.

On Saturday, the Oahu County Committee will formally receive the four complaints and is expected to refer them to an investigative committee.

The subjects of the complaints can appeal party decisions to the party’s State Central Committee.

State Party Chair Tim Vandeveer declined to comment, as did Reena Rabago, chair of the party’s Oahu County Committee.

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