Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Ian Lind @ Civil Beat on campaign contributions during session

by Larry Geller

The more exposure this issue gets, like Honolulu’s pothole problems, the more chance it can be fixed, I think. So I was very glad to see Ian LInd’s article poste on the Civil Beat webpage, Hawaii Monitor: Time To Ban Campaign Donations During Session? (Civil Beat, 3/27/2013).

Ian fills in much background that I haven’t covered here—for example, the number of other states that have laws banning contributions during session (29) and describes some differences.

Why don’t you just click the link above and read the article? It’s well done, as usual.

I would like to add just one comment of my own. Ian writes:

Fundraisers can also provide a few minutes of face time with legislators and other public officials, who are otherwise often unavailable to the 98 percent during session. A few words exchanged here and there with the legislator, or with others in attendance, can be extremely valuable whether you’re a constituent, a lobbyist, a concerned citizen, or “just” a voter.

I’ve emphasized that the lobbyists get the face time, not the 98%, when the legislator holds an expensive event in town but represents a district on a Neighbor Island, for example. The constituents can’t afford to fly over and pay for hotels just for a few minutes at a noisy event and the chance to elbow through a gaggle of lobbyists to get to the representative.

Sure, banning these fundraisers during session hasn’t worked (yet), and it is hard to see how our state legislators might be convinced to pass laws that might restrict their gravy train. But if you’re a Neighbor Island voter and do get to meet your representative who held a fundraiser for special interests, why not ask if they would be willing to do the ethical thing and agree to ban those events in the future? Please don’t forget the word “ethical.” That’s what it’s about.


each house of the legislature has the power to adopt rules to prohibit this kind of activity during sessions with the penalty being expulsion from office.

Many thanks to you, Ian, and Civil Beat.

I do make political donations. They are small amounts and not related to business and almost never do I even know the candidate or politician, but your point is well taken. I will not be making political donations while the legislature is in session.

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