EXCLUSIVE: 2 former GOP Hawaii chairs face complaint over their criticism of Trump

Published: Mar. 12, 2016 at 2:49 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2016 at 4:50 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Brett Kulbis (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
Brett Kulbis (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
State Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang (Image: Hawaii News Now)
State Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Fritz Rohlfing (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Fritz Rohlfing (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Image Source: Hawaii News Now
Image Source: Hawaii News Now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Ewa Beach Republican district leader has filed a complaint with the Hawaii GOP against two former chairs of the party for speaking critically of presidential candidate Donald Trump in a Hawaii News Now story just days before the Hawaii Republican caucus.

Brett Kulbis wants former Congresswoman Pat Saiki and State Rep. Beth Fukumoto (R-Mililani, Mililani Mauka) to be punished for allegedly breaking a party loyalty rule, an example of the turmoil and conflict that Trump's campaign is causing among Republicans in Hawaii and across the country.

"Donald Trump has made a mockery of the presidency of the United States," said Saiki in an HNN interview March 3. "I think he's torn us apart."

In the same HNN story, Fukumoto Chang called Trump "a problem. And that his remarks were racist and offensive against women and all sorts of other groups."

Kulbis, who's volunteering for the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said, "I just thought it was inappropriate, unprofessional."

Kulbis, the Ewa Beach GOP district chair, filed a complaint against the two women, claiming they are guilty of violating the state party's loyalty and mutual support resolution, approved last year that says Republicans cannot "belittle or denigrate party candidates or supporters through personal attacks, or make false or misleading statements to discredit … individual party candidates…"

"We have rules against that stuff. And so, I would have much rather them not say anything or at least be a positive message that can resonate with the rest of the Republicans," Kulbis said.

On Friday, Fukumoto Chang reacted to the complaint by saying, "When any candidate runs for office, they are asking the public to tell them what they think.  And I have the right to free speech, like anybody else."

Fukumoto Chang – whose husband David Chang is also a former chair of the Hawaii Republican Party -- said the complaint against her and Saiki doesn't make sense.

"People make personal attacks against me all the time. I'm regularly bombarded with people saying I'm not conservative enough or other things.  But you know, at the end of the day, that's part of running for public office," Fukumoto Chang said.

Friday night, Saiki called the charge against her "ridiculous."

"I don't think he (Kulbis) has a leg to stand on," Saiki said.

Fritz Rohlfing, who just took over as party chair from Saiki in January, said "I don't see anything wrong with forceful statements and people speaking out."

Rohlfing said if the two GOP members had endorsed a Democrat over a Republican, then they would face sanctions, but that's not what happened.

"These are just people saying why they don't want somebody to be the nominee.  It's free speech, it's all fair game," Rohlfing added.

Fukumoto Chang said Kulbis is part of a small group of what she called extremely conservative Republicans critical of some elected members of the GOP because they feel they are too politically moderate.

Trump easily beat his opponents in the March 8 Republican Hawaii caucus, winning 43 percent of the vote, followed by Cruz with 32 percent, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio with 13 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 10 percent.

The Hawaii GOP will send 11 Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, along with seven Cruz delegates and one delegate for Rubio.

A total of 15,672 voters participated in Tuesday's Hawaii caucus, a 53 percent increase from the last GOP Hawaii presidential caucus in 2012.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now.  All rights reserved.