Thursday, March 05, 2009
House Finance Committee members kept in dark on campaign finance amendment put together by leadership
by Larry Geller
Check out the video in the previous article (or click on this pic). It seems clear that the members of the House Finance Committee were kept in the dark about the bill they were asked to pass. They didn’t even know that it raised the limit on corporate treasury contributions to $50,000. As the video shows, they had to ask for that critical “detail.”
I thought it strange while watching the TV that the Chair, Marcus Oshiro, omitted that crucial fact when reading the changes to the bill. His committee members had to ask a series of questions, which indicates that they did not have the amendment in hand before being asked to vote on it. The questioning by committee members suggests that they were not familiar with the amendment, yet this is a critical good government bill (or should I say, “bad government bill”). It’s also a bill that benefits only them (legislators), and that raises questions about their loyalty to their constituents.
If the committee had done (was allowed by the chair to do) its diligence before voting on the bill, they would have been familiar with the amendments they were asked to vote on.
I’ve written on this blog about this common abuse: a committee chair works out an amendment, often with the help of the industry that benefits, but in this case, probably with or directed by House leadership. At least, the committee chair would not go forward with this amendment on so hot an issue without the concurrence of House leadership that this is the way to go.
They have also been careful that the bill come up only at night. There’s very little “sunshine” on what they are doing at night. It also doesn’t make the next day’s papers and they escape the eye of broadcast TV cameras.
I hope that our mainstream press will look into this, relate it to what is happening in other states, and question how this tsunami of corporate money that legislators are hoping to unleash relates to good government in Hawaii.