Mailbag (01) – The Johanson-Theilen Effect

Many of you have sent messages asking why there are so many questions left in my posts, and those are very deliberate.  It is not my intent to leave people in the dark.  Suffice it to say:

  1. Information I post here is verifiable.  I post a lot of links so that my reporting can be verified independently.  Links to verifiable sources are included in every post.  I avoid hearsay at whatever costs, and I attempt to be as clear as possible when it IS included.
  2. It is in my best interests to stick to the facts where possible.  There is a complex morass of free speech, journalistic integrity and campaign speech that I need to navigate.  For the moment, I will relegate that morass to a mere footnote (1).

However, many of you have asked the same question, in response to my post Stacking the Deck.  One reader wrote, “Why did Aaron Johanson speak up in opposition to replacing Theilen on the Judiciary committee for SB1? I would have thought he would have wanted that to happen.”  Another reader submitted, “WHY did House Minority Leader Aaron Johnanson speak in opposition of Theilen’s replacement?”

The Legislature is still a place where many of the most important discussions take place in the dark, locked, smoke-filled rooms that are not privy to the eyes of the public – so the written record is rather scant on the precise reasons why Rep. Johanson opposed the removal of Theilen from the House Judiciary Committee during the 2013 special session.  You can review Aaron Johanson’s official remarks in the House Journal (see pages two and three).  To address the question, the House Minority Leader stated:

Removing the good representative from Kailua from the Judiciary Committee is not the only way to kill the bill.  …  I oppose removing the good representative from Kailua [Cynthia Theilen] from the House Judiciary Committee against her will, because it denies her a say on a committee that she has served on honorably for years, simply because she disagrees with me and other members of the Minority Caucus.

At first read, Rep. Johanson’s only reason for leaving Theilen on the committee was because she has been the Republican representative on the committee for a long time.  This assertion, however, is puzzling when Theilen’s committee voting record is scrutinized.  While she has served as a representative on the committee, Theilen record questions whether she has actually served as a Republican, or as a rubber stamp for liberal Democrats.  Questionable votes include the following:

  • Support of same-sex marriage (SB1, 2013 Special Session)
  • Support of civil unions (SB232, 2011)
  • Support for recreational use of marijuana (HB699, 2013) (2)
  • Contempt for First Amendment rights (freedom of speech) (HB1499, 2014)
  • Contempt for freedom of religion, and rights to protest and peaceably assemble (link pending) (3)
  • Forcing people of faith to administer emergency contraceptives (HB411, 2013)

Based on Theilen’s record, it is not clear why Aaron Johanson would NOT have replaced Theilen on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, considering that she consistently failed to represent the values of her own Republican caucus.  Furthermore, it is equally puzzling why Aaron Johanson would not have embraced an “all-options” approach to defeat SB1 during the 2013 special session.  When the votes of the full House of Representatives were in support of same-sex marriage, why wouldn’t you try to kill it in the House Judiciary Committee if you could?

For that answer, you will have to speak with Aaron Johanson yourself.  It would be irresponsible for me to speak on behalf of him. (4)  After that option, we are only left with speculation –

When the Republicans formed a coalition with liberal Democrats in November 2012, they received several gifts in exchange.  This included vice-chairmanships of the powerful committees on (a) Finance, (b) Energy and Environmental Protection, and (c) Economic Development and Business.  Republican’s Aaron Johanson (Finance) and Cynthia Theilen have benefitted directly from this coalition with liberal Democrats and personally occupy two of these three vice-chairmanships.  One could believe that their capitulation on the issue of same-sex marriage was made in exchange for “blood money” they received from their coalition with Souki, Saiki and Luke.  Perhaps Republicans were forced to capitulate to passage of same-sex marriage to preserve their powerful positions on these three committees.

Observers note that minority leadership in the House of Representatives hinges on a single vote.  While Representatives Fale, McDermott and Ward do not support him, Representatives Fukumoto, Matsumoto and Theilen tip the balance in favor of Johanson.  Without Theilen’s support of Johanson, he would no longer have the votes to be the minority leader.

So to those who asked why Johanson did not support the Theilen removal, I am left to conclude: quid pro quo.


(1) Due to the nature of this blog, the veracity is wholly dependent on its ability to be independently verified.  To achieve this balance as a blogger, freedom of press is necessary to protect sources where it is appropriate, and a balance of freedom of speech/press are necessary to report in a manner that is consistent with a broad array of electioneering laws.

(2) During House Judiciary hearings on HB699, Cynthia Theilen (and testifying family members) voiced their full support for the recreational use of marijuana.

(3) During the 2013 special session, Theilen supported an injunction that would have prevented church pastors from peaceably assembling at the State Capitol to protest against SB1 that eventually legalized same-sex marriage.  A link for this information is pending.

(4) The official remarks left by Johanson in the official legislative record are quite cryptic and circular.  In it, he opposed same-sex marriage, but permitted a Republican “yes” vote to sit on the committee while liberal Democrats actively changed the House Judiciary Committee’s composition to “grease the wheels of democracy” so that the liberal agenda would continue unopposed.  While one is invited to accept Aaron Johanson’s justification, it is not clear whether personal justification will be any more enlightening.

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