Karamatsu resigns as vice speaker of the House
A week after being convicted and sentenced for drunken driving, Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu formally resigned as vice speaker of the state House of Representatives yesterday, saying he did not want to be a source of distraction.
House Speaker Calvin Say, who previously said the leadership issue would be taken up when the 2008 Legislature convenes, accepted Karamatsu's resignation and said a search for a replacement would begin with a recommendation expected by opening day of the session.
Karamatsu (D, Waipahu-Waikele) was arrested Oct. 17 after crashing his car and having a blood-alcohol content level of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal threshold of 0.08 percent.
He pleaded no contest last week and was sentenced to 72 hours of community service and a $750 fine.
"I realize I made a serious error in judgment, and I wish to take full responsibility for my actions," Karamatsu said in his letter of resignation to Say.
"It is my belief that the House would be best served by my relinquishing my current leadership responsibilities in order to remove any perception of impropriety," he added. "I have true respect for this institution, its members and the role it serves in the government of Hawaii, and I wish to protect its integrity."
Karamatsu, 33, had offered to resign in October, when the Legislature convened in special session to address legislation for the Hawaii Superferry, but Say instead relieved him of his duties and said the issue would be revisited.
"I appreciate Jon Riki's willingness to look past himself and put the institution and the people's business first," Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) said in a news release. "I know he has already learned from this experience, and I am eager to see him move forward with his life."
The duties of the vice speaker have been charged to House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell (D, Manoa).
Any further discipline would be up to House members.