Chair Ige, Vice-Chair Kidani, and Committee Members, The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HB 1147 HD2, SD1 which would increase transparency in campaign spending by requiring noncandidate committees – PACs and Super PACs -- to identify certain top contributors, directly or indirectly, to advertisements.
In today’s unlimited campaign spending environment, in order for citizens to “follow the money,” we need to require noncandidate committees that are making only independent expenditures to name their top donors – either to their advertisement, if known, or to the non-candidate committee itself. For example, if a noncandidate committee has many contributors but none have contributed specifically for the advertisement, then the “top contributors to the noncandidate committee itself” need to be named in the ad.
According to OpenSecrets.org, at least $6 billion was spent nationwide in the 2012 election cycle. Even locally, an unprecedented $4 million was spent by the candidates and a Super PAC on a single race –the City and County of Honolulu mayoral race. This Super PAC outspent the candidate targeted by its negative ads by over ten to one, over $3 million compared to the $300,000 spent by the targeted candidate.
We recognize and appreciate that the House Judiciary Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee and the Attorney General’s office contributed significant value to the proposed bill. We do think Section 2 of the bill should be amended to avoid any misunderstanding about the names of contributors on advertisements. Specifically, “top three contributors” could be achieved by: a) three individual contributors, b) three top contributors to an entity that placed the ad or 3) a combination of individual contributors and entity contributors. Perhaps the most straightforward way to do amend the definition of the three top contributors as defined in Section 2, subsection e.
Please help to renew the public’s confidence in our election process and in our public officials. More disclosure is urgently needed. Let us see who is behind the enormous amounts of money spent to influence the outcome our elections.
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii believes that this is an important, much needed bill. We urge you to pass HB1147 HD2.
Thank you for this opportunity to submit testimony.