Advisory Opinion 06-02

     This Advisory Opinion addresses a concern raised by a candidate who attended a Commission workshop earlier in the year.  The issue is whether a candidate who purchases advertising space in a non-profit organization’s newsletter, is making a contribution to the non-profit pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) sections 11-200 (b) (3) or 11-206 (c) (4).

HRS section 11-200 (b) (3) provides in relevant part:

May make contributions from its campaign fund 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 11-204(a), Hawaii Revised Statutes; provided further that no contributions shall be made from the date the candidate files nomination papers to the date of the general election.

HRS section 11-206 (c) (4) has similar language to HRS section 11-200 (b) (3) and permits a candidate to contribute.1

     If the candidate pays the reasonable commercial rate for advertising in a non-profit newsletter, the candidate has made an expenditure.  If the candidate pays more than the reasonable commercial rate for advertising in a non-profit newsletter, the additional amount above the reasonable commercial rate will be considered a contribution to the non-profit.

     We note that contributions to non-profits specified in HRS sections 11-200 (b) (3) and 11-206 (c) (4) are prohibited between time of filing nomination papers and the general election; and are limited to the maximum amount that a person may contribute to the candidate.

     The Commission provides this Advisory Opinion as a means of stating its current interpretation of the Hawaii Campaign Spending 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, July 13, 2006.

CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION

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Paul Kuramoto
Chairperson

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Steven E. Olbrich
Vice Chairperson

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Gino Gabrio
Commissioner

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Dean Robb
Commissioner

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Michael E. Weaver
Commissioner

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1 HRS section 11-206 (c) Surplus funds may be used after a general or special election for:
.   .   .   .
     (4)  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 11-204(a); provided further that no contributions shall be made from the date the candidate files nomination papers to the date of the general election.