Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Hawaii House Finance Committee assaults clean election law with a new $50,000 limit
by Larry Geller
Can you imagine (say) a committee chair taking $50,000 from each of a flock of (say) contractors, or (say) insurance companies, and then telling voters with a straight face that all that money had absolutely no influence?? Or the Speaker (say Say) accepting bushels of money and claiming it has no effect on legislative policy??
Here’s the video of tonight’s decisionmaking. Watching it, I felt that the Chair seemed reluctant to mention any numbers. Check it out. Of course, the devil is in the numbers. If this bill survives, and if the bill postponing the Big Island pilot project also succeeds, Hawaii’s clean election laws will be overturned, and the movement set back at least a decade.
Title: HB215 decision at last, committee sets $50,000 limit
There should be an action alert out tomorrow (Thursday). Stay tuned.
Actually, even under this bill, no corporation could donate $50,000 to a single candidate. The existing contribution limits have not been changed and would apply to corporate contributions as they have in the past. It would mean, though, that a corporation could spend as much as $50,000 in total making contributions to candidates, with individual contributions subject to the regular spending units. Few have actually done this in recent years, with the risk of bad publicity, etc.
Chris Lee improvises and goes off script, shakes up, ah, Marcus Oshiro.
Any questions, discussions
what is the cap set at?
Set? Whats the question?
C.LEE (Echo by M.LEE)
What's the cap for corporations?
The cap for the, ah, restrictions for the non candidate committees is $50,000 during the, ah, two year period. That's the day after the general election until the day of the following general election. Its a two year period.
What was it before?
I don't believe there was any restriction. Oh, that's...
In the wake of the Tavares case
That's the issue in the Tavares case
You can clearly see from the video that committee members are not privied to reading the content of the bills, nor even necessarily knowing the content of the bills before they are expected to vote on them. Unless one of them had asked, the committee members weren't going to be told the $50,000 figure.
Later that night on HB 1171 I expect that most of them did not understand the content of what they were voting on.
This is totally irresponsible legislating. What, do these people think this is just a popularity contest?