Fall 2002 Home   Newsletters

Winter 2002

Convention Edition 2003

Impossible Electoral Contest (Jean Aoki)
Jean Aoki Honored
Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition (Grace Furukawa)
This Land Was Your Land
Howard Criss
Initiative and Referendum Study (Marian Wilkins)
Travel Fundraiser (Grace Furukawa)
Recent Publications Available in League's Library
Local League News - Honolulu (Pearl Johnson)
Local League News - Hawaii (Marian Wilkins)
Local League News - Kaua'i (Carol Bain)
Local League News - Maui (Andrea Dean)

Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition

This is the fifth year the League as part of the Hawaii Clean Elections coalition, has submitted a bill for public funding of campaigns. In the past two election cycles the) sought funding of the Honolulu City Council. This year it is for the House of Representatives instead.

What a difference it makes to have someone who has experience with such an effort to talk with legislators. The coalition brought Representative Boyd Marley from the state of Maine (paid for by an anonymous donor) to Honolulu to talk to our legislators. When we Leaguers talk to them, it seems to strike them as akin to pie in the sky. We're seen as "impractical do-gooders." But when Representative Marley spoke, it was as a legislator who has run twice and has won twice on public funding.

Marley explained the 1, 2 and 3 steps. The beauty of the system is in its simple requirements: (1) declaring an intent to run; (2) collecting a small amount of money to get one's message out and collect a specified number of $5.00 donations from voters in the district (to show community support); and finally (3) having these signatures validated. Once done, he gets a competitive amount of money (75% of the median of the winners in the last two elections) for the primary and general. To equalize the race, there is a doubling of that amount if the privately funded candidate outspends the publicly funded candidate.

This program really takes all the private and special interest money out of campaigns. It restores democracy to the people, who are the only ones the candidate must then answer to. The ramifications of this are many, including the restoration of voter trust in elected officials -- and as a result a greater inclination on the part of people to vote. (Maine has the second highest voter turnout in the country.)

Those who feel that they don't want tax money funding a candidate they don't want should appreciate the fact that a great deal of special interest money may be going into that candidate's purse. Similar concerns are sometimes expressed about the cost of the program. But we are now paying high prices for campaigns when contractors and other special interests add their contributions to the price of their goods and services. These special interests are tired of the arm twisting for contributions as well.

For this beginning effort in Hawaii, the Campaign Spending Fund has enough money to cover the cost. The fund is the recipient of the $2.00 check off. However, when the program has started, we will have to find another innovative way to continue to supplement the fund. Other states use various methods and I'm sure we can come up with good ideas ourselves. Some still feel that partial public funding should continue, rather than the full public funding we seek. Bob Watada is one. But think about how the nation's presidential candidates use matching funds. Partial funding has hardly taken the special interest money out of national politics.

Recent years have exposed so much corruption that all candidates were crying for change -- Republicans and Democrats alike. This is the real change that opens the door to allowing more candidates to run. (No seat should be uncontested -- there has to be dialogue if democracy is to exist.) Complete funding allows the candidate to spend time contacting prospective constituents and making friends, rather than constantly trying to raise money. He can then listen to everybody, special interests as well as nonprofit groups and individuals. We feel the public funding of campaigns is truly the reform that makes all other reforms possible.


  1. Be sure you check off the $2.00 contribution on your state tax form.

  2. Respond to an ALERT to call your legislator when this bill or other League reform bills come up in the Legislature. We will contact you by e-mail and phone. If you don't like talking to a legislator, phone after office hours and leave your name, address and message. It works, especially if you live in his or her district.

  3. Support the effort with your time and/or money. Call the League office and leave a message for Grace Furukawa if you can be part of the coalition. Write a check to HI Clean Coalition, in care of the League office. Attention Grace. I am the League's liaison with the coalition.

Grace Furukawa

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