Lawmaker apologizes for comparing housing chief to the devil, but doubles down on DHHL criticism

But he isn’t backing down from his criticisms of the Green Administration’s housing plans for Hawaiians.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 8:24 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 4:56 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two days after Gov. Josh Green accused state Sen. Kurt Fevella of harassing his staff, the Ewa Beach lawmaker is apologizing.

But he isn’t backing down from his criticisms of the Green Administration’s housing plans for Hawaiians.

“If I hurt her and her family ... If I hurt any of them, I apologize,” Fevella said, in an interview with Hawaii News Now. “If the governor felt that I was bullying his people, I apologize for that.”

Green files harassment claim against lawmaker who compared housing director to the devil

The apology is for comments he made last week about state Housing Chief Nani Medeiros at a Hawaiian Homes Commission meeting on Friday.

“Nani has nothing or no knowledge about Hawaiian people. I don’t care if she says she’s Hawaiian. Just remember now, the devil also was an angel. Remember that. So just because you’re Hawaiian doesn’t mean you have the passion for the people,” he said during the meeting.

Fevella was not apologizing for the words he used at the meeting, but he was apologizing for upsetting Medeiros.

State Sen. Kurt Fevella apologized on the Senate Floor on Friday for derogatory comments he made about the state's housing chief.

That prompted Green to file a harassment complaint with Senate President Ron Kouchi.

“I will not tolerate anyone from my team being treated this way,” Green said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Fevella said he wasn’t questioning Medeiros’ ethnicity — but he didn’t back away from his criticism. “I never said she wasn’t Hawaiian. I know she’s Hawaiian. But being Hawaiian doesn’t mean that you can do the job, and you can get things done,” he said.

Fevella is upset because he thinks the Green Administration is changing DHHL’s housing plan — which has already been vetted by the Hawaiian Homes Commission and Hawaiian beneficiaries.

That plan is being funded by the $600 million that state lawmakers gave to the DHHL last session.

“It’s a big distraction from the real issues,” Fevella said of the personal conflict.

The Green administration agreed.

“Fevella’s alleged conduct and remarks about Ms. Medeiros have absolutely distracted from the real work at hand, which is why the complaint was filed,” the administration said.

Medeiros had no immediate comment on Fevella’s initial apology.

On Friday, Fevella apologized again for his comments — this time on the Senate Floor.

The apology came after Fevella and Kouchi met in the morning with Green and his Chief of Staff Brooke Wilson, who agreed later to drop their complaint.

“That was the right thing to do. I appreciate it, Sen. Fevella’s apology to Nani,” Green said. “Sometimes people say passionate things, and it can hurt others. But his apology did seem genuine, and so we thank you for that.”