Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Two more key Hawaii legislative chairs opt for fund raisers in Honolulu business district
by Larry Geller
Today we have two Featured Fundraisers for you. Both are being held during session, while bills are before these lawmakers for their consideration.
Both of these lawmakers will be hearing bills that affect the companies that can donate to them. They are accepting donations during the legislative session. More than just the appearance of selling influence, they are providing the opportunity for influence to occur.
Rep. Joe Souki promises contributors “An Evening with Joe Souki” in this ad I spotted in the Sunday Advertiser, and it’s also running in today’s paper. He’s offering this influence opportunity at a big Waikiki hotel. Souki is chair of the House Transportation Committee. Where are his constituents? He represents the 8th House district, Waihee-Wailuku-Waikapu, on Maui. That’s on another island, of course.
Let’s see… according to the Google Maps Distance Calculator, a handy tool that can help measure the distance between legislators’ fundraisers and their constituents, Joe Souki’s Waikiki fundraiser is precisely 88.561 miles from Wailuku, in his district. That’s as the crow flies. I suppose his constituents could take the Superf….. oops, can’t even do that any more. Bottom line, Joe can’t be expecting too many of the ordinary folks whom he represents to drop by.
So where does Rep. Souki’s money come from? Let’s look at the Campaign Spending Commission reports. Here’s the 2008 report for January-June only. Here’s July-Sept. Look at that tobacco money! Too bad the Campaign Spending reports are so fragmented. Check out the addresses, though, to see who lives on Maui and who does not.
Next is Sen. Dwight Takamine’s ad in the Sunday, 3/15/2009 Advertiser. The event is on March 19, and again, it’s in Honolulu. Sen. Takamine is Chair of the Senate Labor committee.
According to Google, the Empress Restaurant is 210.163 miles from Hilo Bay. If you’re a crow with money to donate.
This is such a great example of why Hawaii (and the rest of the country) needs comprehensive campaign finance reform. Instead of our legislature trying to increase the contribution limit from corporate treasuries to $50,000, it should be reset to zero. Then these leaders will have to derive their power from the people they represent instead of from Honolulu businesses and lobbyists.
Neither of these legislators, though, is as brazen as House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, who bid for $150 contributions at a fundraiser scheduled for last week, in Honolulu, of course (see By Hook or by Crook).
If I’ve missed any ads, please let me know. I think every legislator who fundraises during session in the Honolulu business district deserves to be recognized here at Disappeared News. I don’t want to leave any out. Especially the ones whose districts are far enough away that their constituents may not see these ads in their local paper. At least they can see them here.
Larry - great story! It is important for citizens to stay abreast of these activities. I hope that you'll tickle your calendar for the end of the donation reporting period so that we can compare the list of donations received by these two at their fundraisers to the bills that their committees heard. It could make for interesting reading.