Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated one of the complaints against Rep. Sharon Har was filed by Michael Golojuch Jr., who ran against Har in 2014. The complaint was actually filed by his father, Michael Golojuch Sr.
Two complaints over state Rep. Sharon Har’s drunken driving arrest last month were referred Wednesday to a House “special committee” for review, an unusual step prompted in part by a letter from the father of a Democratic Party activist who ran unsuccessfully against Har in 2014.
House Speaker Scott Saiki referred the complaints by Michael Golojuch and his wife Carolyn Martinez Golojuch to the soon-to-be-created House committee, which Saiki said can recommend to the full House whether any sanctions should be imposed on Har.
Har, 52, was arrested on Feb. 22 after driving in the wrong direction on one-way Beretania Street near Piikoi Street. She later issued a public apology, saying she had a beer with dinner while she was also taking prescription cough medicine, which “contributed to my impaired driving.”
Michael Golojuch is the father of Michael Golojuch Jr., who ran against Har in the 2014 Democratic primary. Michael Golojuch Jr. said the complaint was filed after the Democratic Party’s District 42 council voted to make the complaint.
The elder Michael Golojuch is chairman of the District 42 council, and Michael Golojuch Jr. is a member of that council.
The elder Golojuch said in his March 6 complaint that “numerous conflicts between her and the police reports keep surfacing, including footage of the police body cameras. Representative Har’s statements have been unprofessional, and in direct opposition of her initial statements.”
State Rep. James Tokioka stood on the House floor Wednesday to object to Saiki’s decision to refer the Golojuch complaints to the committee, noting that Har’s court case for driving under the influence is still pending.
Tokioka told his colleagues the House should wait until that case is resolved before deciding what to do about Har’s arrest. “To send it to the committee now with no clear guidelines to us of what this committee is going to do, I think is not a fair process,” he said.
Saiki said in an interview after the floor session that he plans to announce the names of the six-member, bipartisan special committee shortly.
He said the House committee will have the option of recommending sanctions for Har ranging from removing her from committees to censure or expulsion. A censure recommendation would need to be approved by a majority vote of the full House, while expulsion would require a two-thirds vote.
Saiki said he expects Har’s lawyer in the DUI court case will advise her not to speak to the House committee to avoid compromising the court case in any way.
A similar committee was established five years ago when a petition was filed with the House alleging that former House Speaker Calvin Say did not actually live in the district he represented, Saiki said. The committee in that case recommended that the complaint be dismissed.
Former House Vice Speaker Jon Riki Karamatsu was arrested for drunken driving in 2007 and former Rep. Nobu Yonamine was arrested in 2001, but Saiki said he does not believe special committees were formed in those cases because no complaints were filed with the House.
Since a formal complaint was filed in Har’s case, House rules require that the House act on it, he said. Saiki also noted Karamatsu voluntarily stepped down as vice speaker, and “I’m assuming that was construed as a sanction.”
But Tokioka said in an interview that “many complaints have been sent to speaker’s office on things that in my opinion are worse than this, and no special committee was set up for that.”
Har is generally considered a House “dissident” because she is not aligned with the ruling faction of House Democrats that includes Saiki, and she was not appointed chairwoman of any House committees.
“It’s puzzling to me why we’re putting the cart before the horse,” Tokioka said.
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