Advisory Opinion 04-04
This Advisory Opinion rescinds Advisory Opinion No. 98-13.
The Campaign Spending Commission (Commission), in Advisory Opinion No. 98-13, determined that Hawaii’s Campaign Spending laws did not prohibit legislators from using surplus campaign contributions1 with legislative allowance funds to pay the expenses of publishing a legislative newsletter. Campaign contributions may be used “for any ordinary and necessary expense incurred in connection with the candidate’s duties as holder of an elected office….”2
The Commission, however, was not advocating that surplus campaign contributions and legislative allowance funds be used together to pay the expenses for a legislative newsletter as there may be other laws outside the Commission’s jurisdiction (e.g., the Hawaii Ethics law) which may prohibit legislators from using contributions and legislative allowance funds to pay for a legislative newsletter
While Advisory Opinion No. 98-13 reads that there is no express prohibition in the campaign finance statutes on the use of campaign funds for a legislative newsletter, the advisory opinion can create confusion in the face of other statutes or rules that would essentially prohibit public resources from being used for a candidate’s campaign.
Moreover, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President now prohibit legislators from using contributions and legislative allowance funds together to pay for a legislative newsletter.
The Commission, therefore, rescinds Advisory Opinion No. 98-13.
The Commission provides this Advisory Opinion 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, revise, or revoke this Advisory Opinion upon the enactment of amendments to the Hawaii Revised Statutes or the adoption of administrative rules by the Commission.
Dated: Honolulu, Hawaii, November 12, 2004.
CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION
A. Duane Black
Steven E. Olbrich
Gino L. Gabrio
1 “Contributions held by a candidate or committee after all campaign expenses have been paid for the election period.” Hawaii Administrative Rules section 2-14.1-2. Surplus funds, therefore, are the balance in a candidate’s campaign account after the election period, less any loans or unpaid expenses.
2 (c) Such contributions may be used after a general or special election for any fundraising activity for:
(1) Any other politically related activity sponsored by the candidate;
(2) Any ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the candidate’s duties as a holder of an elected state or county office; or
(3) Any contribution to any community service, educational, youth, recreational, charitable, scientific, or literary organization, provided that in any election cycle, the total amount of all contributions from campaign funds and surplus funds shall be no more than the maximum amount that one person or other entity may contribute to that candidate pursuant to section 11-204(a).
See section 11-106(c), HRS.