The League of Women Voters of Hawaii opposes S.B. 3141.
Even the past executive director of the Campaign Spending Commission, Bob Watada, agreed that what was enacted into Act 203 was a weakened version of a reform bill we would all have liked to see. The proposed amendment would weaken it further.
The provision in the Section 11-204, Hawaii Revised Statutes was intentionally amended to remove the provision allowing corporations or companies using funds from their own treasury to contribute unlimited amounts to the corporation or company non-candidate committee. Under this amended statute, companies and corporations would regain their ability to donate unlimited amounts to their non-candidate committees.
Hawaii law bans companies and corporations from donating to individual candidates. Allowing these same entities to donate unlimited amounts to their non-candidate committees which then donate to individual candidates does not make sense. All the companies are doing is funneling their money through committees set up to do just that, and/or campaign for certain candidates. It really makes no difference whether the money goes directly to candidates from corporate and company treasuries or through their non-candidate committees. Whatever was wrong under an earlier system when companies were free to donate directly to candidates would remain wrong under the proposed system.
The limitation on the donation limit to the $1000 limit set for individuals should stand.
We realize that fundraising is hard work and no fun. We realize that campaign finance reform laws make fundraising increasingly more difficult. We also realize as we limit the donation limits, candidates need to work even harder to raise the same amount of money. But then, we need to weigh that against the perception and the reality that in too many instances money not just influences but determines public policies.
We can blame Buckley for part of our problems. We could stop the ever-spiraling cost of campaigning by enacting expenditure limits and stop the race for ever more and more money.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify on S.B. 3141.