Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ruling on Campaign Spending

Today, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled in favor of plaintiff-appellee Charmaine Tavares Campaign, clarifying the campaign spending law relating to corporate contributions.

A copy of the ruling is here.

In summary, the ICA agreed with the Circuit Court's August 10, 2007 judgment that corporations may donate to candidates directly under the limits of $2,000, $4,000 or $6,000 according to the office for which the candidate is running. While the $1,000 limit for Political Action Committees is still in place, corporations do not need to contribute to a candidate via the PAC.

This past session, various "compromise" proposals were introduced, such as implementing an aggregate cap on corporate contributions of either $25,000 or $50,000. The advantage to the aggregate cap is that they would have included a disclosure mechanism with the abilityto more easily track corporate contributions. The compromise was opposed by advocates who wanted to see the cap remain at $1,000 or to eliminate corporate contributions altogether.

Majority Leader Blake Oshiro said that advocates who fought the compromise caps "rolled the dice and lost." He indicated that while he is personally okay with establishing an aggregate cap, he feels that it is "highly unlikely that a bill to do so would pass at this point."

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