Advisory Opinion 00-02
This advisory opinion addresses a question raised by a candidate as to whether campaign contributions can be used by elected officials for programs such as “Adopt A Teacher”. Elected officials or candidates cannot use campaign contributions for a program such as “Adopt A Teacher” except in the case where the elected official or candidate has a surplus after a general election.
Section 11-200(a), Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) reads as follows:
(a) A candidate, campaign treasurer, or candidate’s committee shall not receive any contributions or receive or make any transfer of money or anything of value:
(1) For any purpose other than that directly related:
(A) In the case of the candidate, to the candidate’s own campaign; or
(B) In the case of a campaign treasurer or candidate’s committee, to the campaign of the candidate, question, or issue with which they are directly associated; or
(2) To support the campaigns of candidates other than the candidate, for whom the funds were collected or with whom the campaign treasurer or candidate’s committee is directly associated; or
(3) To campaign against any other candidate not directly opposing the candidate for whom the funds were collected or with whom the campaign treasurer or candidate’s committee is directly associated.
Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, a candidate, campaign treasurer, or candidate’s committee, as a contribution, may purchase from its campaign fund not more than two tickets for each event held by another candidate, committee, or party whether or not the event constitutes a fundraiser as defined in section 11-203.
Section 11-200, HRS is the definitive statute which establishes the parameters on the use of campaign contributions. Campaign contributions can only be used for direct expenses related to a candidates campaign. Contributions cannot be used to support campaigns of another candidate, and cannot be used to campaign against any other candidate not directly opposing the candidate.
Exceptions to this statute allow a candidate to purchase two tickets for each event held by another candidate, and making non-earmarked contributions to the candidate’s party.
After a general election if a candidate has a surplus, pursuant to section 11-206(c), HRS, a candidate may use campaign contributions for any “community service, educational, youth, recreational, charitable, scientific, or literary organization.” The Adopt-A-Teacher program would qualify as an educational organization, for which surplus contributions could be expended. A candidate that provides funds to the Adopt-a-Teacher program should insure that the benefits are not for an immediate family member or other committee member.
This Advisory Opinion is provided by the Commission as a means of stating its current interpretation of the Hawaii election Campaign Contributions and Expenditures laws provided under HRS section 11-191, et seq. and the administrative rules of the Commission provided in chapter 2-14, Hawaii Administrative Rules. The Commission may adopt, revised, or revoke this Advisory Opinion upon its own initiative or upon the enactment of amendments to the Hawaii Revised Statutes or the adoption of administrative rules by the Commission.
Dated: Honolulu, Hawaii, February 29, 2000.
CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION
A. Duane Black
E. Elizabeth Lee