Chair Keith-Agaran, Vice Chair Rhoads, members of the Committee on Judiciary,
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii testified in support of an elected Attorney General when this bill was heard in 2011.
While we still believe in the arguments we presented in support of an elected Attorney General, we have decided that certain conditions are necessary to counteract the negative consequences of having candidates for Attorney General soliciting campaign funds in light of the US Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v FEC which allows for unlimited independent expenditures by corporations and wealthy individuals without indicating the source of the moneys expended. The conflicts of interest generated by the contribution of such large sums and the possible negative ads repeated day in and day out for weeks or months before the elections would lead to perceptions of an untrustworthy office.
Standing Committee Report No. 618 prepared by the Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, the honorable Senator Clayton Hee in 2011, presents the issue as we see it.
However, with the problems we are seeing in the federal election campaigning this year, with the probability of even billions of dollars contributed and spent by independent groups inviting unfair, exaggerated and even half true or even false allegations, caution us to wait until Congress can be persuaded to amend the constitution to allow for fair and believable election campaigns.
This, combined with the availability of voluntary use of public campaign funds with its sensible expenditure limits and rules would convince us to work for elected attorney generals.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to comment on SB 1187.