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August 2000

Who Killed the Clean Elections Bill and Why? (Laure Dillon)
President's Message (Pearl Johnson)
Welcome New Members
Honolulu League: Annual Meeting (Grace Furukawa)
At the Legislature (Jean Aoki)
Senate Seat Challengers Short-changed in 2002 Elections (Jean Aoki)

Who Killed the Clean Elections Bill and Why?

I wish this story had a happy ending. It does not. It should have, but due to the dealings of Senate President Norman Mizuguchi and Senator Cal Kawamoto, the opportunity to try a publicly funded election in 2002 was not approved by the legislature this year

To refresh your memory, Hawaii Clean Elections, a coalition of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Hawaii, Consumer Advocates, Hawaii Green Party, among others, worked with the Campaign Spending Commission to develop a pilot program to test and educate the public about how a publicly funded campaign would work. The 2002 Honolulu City Council election was chosen, mostly due to limited available funding (derived from tax return check-off).

In January, two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate began moving through the process. The House bill (HB 1879) successfully passed all House votes in numerous committees. But, the Senate bill (SB 2149) was killed off quickly, due to Senator Norman Mizuguchi's determination to place it, an elections bill, with his close ally Senator Cal Kawamoto (Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs), who is openly hostile to campaign reform. Kawamoto did not even allow any of the bills to come to a formal vote. Instead, he used procedural maneuvering behind the scenes to kill first the Senate bill and then the House bill when it crossed over to the Senate side. He made sure no votes were taken-despite wide public support and majority Senate support. Is it a coincidence that these senators receive the lion's share of campaign contributions? Is it a coincidence that these same large contributors also donate heavily to the Council races? Speaking personally, I doubt it.

A final attempt was made by the House to offer a publicly funded elections bill (SB 2666 with HB 1879 inserted) to the Senate for a vote. Again, Mizuguchi put Kawamoto in a position to defeat the bill by refusing to hear it in conference committee, killing it dead. Again, without a vote.

A tremendous amount of work was put forth on behalf of this bill. It was widely supported. It should have passed

Laure Dillon
Executive Director
Hawaii Clean Elections

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