Panel backs Frank to lead Public Safety Department
A past discrimination suit against him does not bother senators
The governor's second nominee to head the Department of Public Safety appears headed for confirmation, after a unanimous recommendation from a Senate panel.
"I'm very encouraged by the support that the staff, as well as the senators, felt to give me this opportunity to lead the department," Clayton Frank said after receiving a 4-0 vote of support from the Senate Public Safety Committee.
"Hopefully, the challenges ahead we will be able to fulfill," Frank added.
His nomination now goes to the Senate floor for a vote by the full chamber, which is scheduled for tomorrow.
The committee received overwhelming testimony supporting Frank's nomination, citing his leadership, intelligence and 26 years of experience in the Public Safety Department.
Concerns arose over his part in a lawsuit filed against the state in 1997.
Four women sued the department, accusing then-Director George Iranon, Frank and other supervisors of discriminating against them based on their gender. A Circuit Court jury found in 2001 that Iranon and Frank had unlawfully discriminated and retaliated against one woman and that two other supervisors discriminated against another plaintiff, both on the basis of gender. The state paid out about $2 million.
Committee Chairman Will Espero (D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach) said he is confident that Frank has learned from his past experience.
"We do feel that he has shown remorse, that he understands the gravity of the problem, and I am convinced that it will not happen again, at least to the best of his ability," Espero said.
Frank, warden at the Halawa Correctional Facility, would be the department's first permanent director since the 2004 resignation of John Peyton.
During the regular session, the committee, and ultimately the full Senate, rejected the nomination of Iwalani White, who had been on the job for seven months as interim director.
About a dozen current and former employees testified against White's nomination, citing a management style that led to low morale and feelings of ill will. Espero had cited an "overwhelming" amount of testimony against White in rejecting her nomination.