Thursday, January 28, 2010


Testimony was all against “payola” bill, but House Judiciary Committee passed it anyway

by Larry Geller

Testimony on HB2249 (pdf) is now posted on the Capitol website.

This is the bill that opens up campaign contributions from contractors who submit bids. The theory is that the bidding system means there’s no problem in taking moola from these bidders. The theory is wrong—in New York we called this “payola”, or pay-for-play. Bad bill. But guess what—the House Judiciary Committee, under chair Jon Riki Karamatsu, wouldn’t mind receiving some of those contributions, it seems. And the rest of his committee meekly went along with it.

Three organizations testified against this bill, all in opposition: the Campaign Spending Commission, Americans for Democratic Action/Hawaii, and Common Cause Hawaii. There was no testimony in favor of the bill, yet it passed.

Now it is fast-tracked through to the House floor and then will pass out of the House. Unless it is stopped.

This is a self-serving measure that is fraught with danger. It sets up a “pay-for-play” system which can only encourage corruption in the future (see: House travesty in the making—contractor payola bill railroaded to House floor, 1/27/2010, and Ian Lind’s Bill to remove restrictions on corporate contributions approved by House Judiciary Committee, 1/27/2010.)

It seems that when the Judiciary chair calls, the committee members fall into line. Those voting in favor of this bill were Representatives Karamatsu, Ito, Marumoto, McKelvey,  Mizuno, B. Oshiro, Souki, Tsuji and Wakai. Only Representatives Belatti voted No. Remember, though, it’s not just chair Karamatsu whose voice they obey. This bill could not have been fast-tracked without the backing of House Speaker Calvin Say.

If you would like to weigh in on this bill, for example, to tell legislators not to pass HB2249, it’s easy. Just email your representative, or email all of them at A phone call is also good, as is a fax if you can do it. You can say anything, someone will mark it down if you call.



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