Call to Convention
President's Message (Evelyn Bender)
Campaign Finance Reform -- A Hot Issue
League Position on Campaign Finance
Board Meeting Notes
Bylaw Changes Proposed
Why Americans Hate Politics - Book Review (Anne Borgen)
Telephone Reference Unit Begins
LWVHI Proposed Budget 1993-1994
Big Island LWV Reports
Campaign Finance Reform -- A Hot Issue
Campaign Finance Reform is on the League's front burner on both the national and state levels in 1993. The League has been working in this area in Hawaii since the late sixties and on the national level since 1973. (See inset for State and National Positions.) While some gains have been made, much more needs to be done.
This year the LWVUS has joined with Common Cause, USPIRG, AARP, and other organizations in "Clean Up Washington," a national grassroots campaign for Campaign Finance Reform. At the kickoff press conference, LWVUS President Becky Cain called for "the President and Congress to put the American people before big money contributors" and maintained that "if Congress and the President are serious about change, they must start with fundamental campaign finance reform. You can't clean house with dirty water. Our legislators cannot be beholden to special interests while serving the public interest. If we are going to give Americans a better health care system, lower unemployment, and a cleaner environment, the influence of special interests on our legislators must be curbed. We need to reform the way campaigns are financed to revitalize elections, restore faith in government and strengthen our democracy."
The recently-released postelection disclosure reports showed a significant increase in campaign spending by general elections candidates. The reports revealed that:
It is evident changes must be made.
Last year when President Bush vetoed a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill, then Governor Bill Clinton said, "And I would urge Congress to go right back and give him a tougher bill.... This is a very big issue with the American people, and it's a very big issue if we are ever going to get this government to work right. So I hope they will take his veto, write another bill, make it even tougher, and send it right back." Well, the 1992 elections brought a new administration committed to change to Washington. Now, we will see if it can deliver.
The nationwide "Clean Up Washington" effort has proposed campaign finance reform legislation that would:
Congressional action is expected on the legislation, which has been introduced in both the House (HR3) and Senate (S3) in March or April. While similar legislation passed Congress last year, there is no assurance it will pass this year for a number of reasons. First, there are a number of new members of Congress. Second, many members of Congress voted for the bill last year because they knew President Bush would veto it. Third, the idea of public financing has made many members uneasy because no one wants to inform the public it must also pay for political campaigns when President Clinton is calling for shared sacrifice. Time will only tell if a campaign finance reform bill will reach the White House this year. You can help by urging Senators Inouye and Akaka and Representatives Mink and Abercrombie to support the legislation.
Upon the recommendations of many members, the State League is concentrating on the Campaign Finance Reform issue. The luncheon speaker at State Convention in May will be Ian Lind, now an investigative reporter for the Star-Bulletin, who has been monitoring campaign financing and practices in Hawaii for some time.
In the meantime, the League has been testifying on some 25-30 bills on campaign finance and election procedures which were introduced in the 1993 legislative session. Both the House and Senate heard many measures and have consolidated most of them into their own omnibus versions. While both the Senate and House versions contain some good provisions, they appear to have eliminated various existing restrictions on holding fundraisers and on some campaign contributions. The League, along Common Cause and others, testified in opposition to these changes, We now have to determine if the good changes in the bills outweigh these deletions and decide whether to support or oppose these omnibus packages.