CSC Newsletter – January 2021, Vol. 27, No. 1

Posted in Main, Newsletter

CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION’S CONTINUED RESPONSE TO COVID-19

As the State of Hawaii continues to address the public health threat posed by COVID-19, the Campaign Spending Commission (Commission) appreciates your kokua and understanding.  Although 2020 challenged us on all levels, with an election to boot, COVID-19 was more than a pandemic, but a call to action which freed us to rethink and reimagine how we can better service and communicate with you given our limited resources and working remotely.  We reorganized and expanded our website so that information and commonly asked questions could be retrieved more readily in a user-friendly way, payments could be made, and updated manuals, guidebooks, and online training were posted.  We eblasted, tweeted, designed another dashboard, and issued a newsletter and annual survey.  In fact, we never stopped our monthly Sunshine public Commission meetings and encourage you to join us on Zoom.

Although our office remains physically closed, based on the annual online survey we distributed in the fall (our 9th one), we are pleased to report that many of you were able to contact us to obtain information and answers to your questions.  How we conduct business and communicate may never look the same, but the Commission remains committed and steadfast to its mission to maintain the integrity and transparency of the campaign finance process by enforcing the law, educating the public, administering public financing, and training committees to encourage compliance.

As we move into the new year, the Commission wishes you good health, prosperity, happiness, and a world of hope and positive change in 2021!

REMINDER TO ALL COMMITTEES TO FILE THE SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT

The next report for all committees is the Supplemental Report covering the period November 4, 2020 to December 31, 2020 (for all noncandidate committees and candidate committees whose candidates ran in the 2020 election) or July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 (for candidate committees whose candidates did not run in the 2020 election).  This report must be electronically filed on your respective filing systems (i.e., candidate filing system (CFS) or noncandidate committee filing system (NCFS)) no later than 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian standard time on Monday, February 1, 2021.

Failure to file this report by the deadline will result in a fine and, if you are a candidate committee or noncandidate committee, your committee’s name will be posted on the Commission website under “Candidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report” or “Noncandidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report.”  Moreover, if a fine is assessed against your committee and you fail to timely pay it, Commission staff will issue a complaint against your committee and set it for consideration at the next public Commission meeting.  Therefore, we encourage all committees to timely file their reports.

As a reminder, committees do not have to wait until the February 1st deadline to file the report.  The reporting period for the Supplemental Report ended on December 31st so the report can be filed as early as January 1st, but no later than February 1st.

REPORTING SCHEDULES

New reporting schedules have been posted on our website and are provided via the link below for your convenience to track upcoming reporting deadlines.  The reporting schedules are also available in the Commission’s downloadable calendar and can be downloaded to your digital calendar on your computer or mobile device.

The Commission will add the necessary reports to your reporting schedule in your respective electronic filing system (CFS and NCFS).  These reports must be electronically filed no later than 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian standard time on the day of the deadline.  You may also want to consider filing the reports early, but not before the reporting period ends, to avoid penalties because the reporting deadline is always a few days or weeks after the reporting period has closed.

Failure to file any report by the deadline will result in a fine and the name of your committee will be posted on the Commission’s website under “Candidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report” or “Noncandidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report.”  Further, if a fine is assessed against your committee and you fail to timely pay it, Commission staff will issue a complaint against your committee and set it for consideration at the next public Commission meeting.  Therefore, we encourage all committees to timely file their reports and pay any fines.

Lastly, please remember that when you electronically file your reports with the Commission, candidates, treasurers, and chairpersons (for noncandidate committees) are certifying that the information contained in the filed reports are true, complete, and accurate.  Therefore, it is strongly advised that you verify and validate your reports before you file them since the Commission will rely on the electronically filed information which could generate an inquiry/investigation if inaccurate.

UPDATING ORGANIZATIONAL REPORTS

As of January 1, 2021, candidate committees that login to the candidate filing system (CFS) and noncandidate committees that login to the noncandidate committee filing system (NCFS) will be presented with their Organizational Report.  Please take the time to review your Organizational Report and make any needed changes.

HRS §§11-322(b) and 11-323(b) provides that any change in information previously reported in the organizational report shall be electronically filed with the commission within 10 days of the change being brought to the attention of the committee chairperson or treasurer.  Failure to do so may result in a fine as well as prevent the Commission from communicating with you.

2020 ELECTION OBSERVATIONS

In 2020, there were 310 candidates running for 104 seats up for election out of 128 elective seats in the state of Hawaii and its four counties.  The 104 seats up for election this year were:  Senate (14), House (51), Honolulu Mayor (1), Honolulu Prosecutor (1), Honolulu City Council (5), Hawaii Mayor (1), Hawaii Prosecutor (1), Hawaii County Council (9), Maui County Council (9), Kauai Prosecutor (1), Kauai County Council (7), and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (4).  View the list of candidates running in 2020 and their Organizational Reports which includes their committee officers such as their appointed chairperson and treasurer.  Some of the key points of this election include the following:

  • 77 or 95% of the 81 incumbent candidates that ran for reelection were successful. The 4 unsuccessful incumbent candidates were Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim (seat won by Mitch Roth), Representative Tom Brower (seat won by Adrian Tam), Representative Romy Cachola (seat won by Ernesto Ganaden), and OHA Molokai Island Trustee Colette Machado (seat won by Luana Alapa).
  • 23 candidates won open seats with 16 of those candidates never holding elected office before – 3 of those candidates being elected officials who vacated their seats (Chris Lee, Joy San Buenaventura, Calvin Say) and 4 of those candidates who held elected office in the past (Bernard Carvalho, Greggor Ilagan, Matt LoPresti, Andria Tupola).
  • The top 2 candidates receiving the most contributions were Honolulu Mayor candidate Keith Amemiya ($2,041,325.47) and Honolulu Mayor candidate Rick Blangiardi ($1,462,921.82).
  • The top 2 candidates making the most expenditures were Honolulu Mayor candidate Keith Amemiya ($2,439,062.31 with a cost-per-vote for the primary and general elections of $11.91) and Honolulu Mayor candidate Rick Blangiardi ($1,859,171.33 with a cost-per-vote for the primary and general elections of $6.32).
  • The top 2 candidates receiving the most loans were Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi ($465,000 in personal loans plus $15,561.08 in additional personal funds) and Honolulu Mayor candidate Keith Amemiya ($268,712.49 in personal loans plus $37,546.50 in additional personal funds).
  • The top 2 candidates receiving the most support from independent expenditures were Honolulu Mayor candidate Rick Blangiardi ($1,393,424.44) and Honolulu City Council District 1 candidate Esther Kia’aina ($189,370.13).
  • The top 2 candidates receiving the most opposition from independent expenditures were Honolulu Mayor candidate Keith Amemiya ($111,189.72) and Honolulu Mayor candidate Mufi Hannemann ($750).
  • 153 or 49% of the 310 candidates running in 2020 filed the Affidavit to voluntarily agree with the expenditure limit set for their office and 35 or 11% of the 310 candidates running in 2020 filed the Statement to notify the Commission of their intent to seek partial public funding.  View the list of Affidavit filers and the list of Statement filers.  16 candidates running in 2020 received a total of $85,361.97 in partial public funding with the most going to Hawaii County Mayor candidate Ikaika Marzo totaling $24,412.
  • 166 fundraisers were held in 2020 with 110 of those fundraisers being held after the stay-at-home order was issued in late March. 73 of the 110 fundraisers were held virtually via Zoom or Facebook Live which became a new trend in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.  View a list of fundraisers held in 2020.

With respect to noncandidate committees, there were 258 registered noncandidate committees in 2020 of which 25 were Super PACs, 6 were political parties, and 3 were ballot issue committees.

  • The top 2 Super PACs receiving the most contributions were Be Change Now ($5,029,558.55) and Hui O Maui Citizens for Change ($192,500).
  • The top 2 Super PACs making the most independent expenditures were Be Change Now ($1,881,619.17) and HiVISION2020 ($162,847.54).
  • The top 2 ballot issue committees receiving the most contributions were Vote No on Charter Amendments Hui O Maui Nui – We Can’t Afford It ($135,000), and Holomua for Professional Management ($27,420).
  • The top 2 ballot issue committees making the most expenditures were Vote No on Charter Amendments Hui O Maui Nui – We Can’t Afford It ($133,475.06), and Holomua for Professional Management ($24,776.44).

TERM LIMITED CANDIDATES

If you are a candidate who is term limited for the office for which you presently occupy, contributions may be sought only if the committee has no surplus and has debt, unpaid expenses, or unpaid loans.  See, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) §3-160-31(b)(2).  If this does not apply and you intend to seek contributions to run for elective office in the next subsequent election, then you must amend your Organizational Report in the CFS to notify the Commission and the public of the office you intend to run for within 10 days of receiving contributions or making or incurring expenditures of more than $100 for that office.  The contribution limits of the 2022 or 2024 election period will apply to these contributors.

DOWNLOADABLE CALENDAR AVAILABLE ON THE COMMISSION’S WEBSITE

An updated and downloadable calendar of events including (but not limited to) the candidate committee and noncandidate committee reporting schedules, the Commission’s monthly meeting schedule, and the State holidays can be downloaded by individuals into their Apple, Google, Microsoft, Outlook, and Yahoo calendars as well as many other calendar programs that use the standard iCal format, from the Commission’s website.  View the Commission’s Downloadable Calendar.

COMMISSION’S BILLS FOR THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

For the 2021 legislative session, the Commission submitted the following eight (8) bills to the House Speaker for introduction.

  • CSC-01 (21), RELATING TO ELECTIONEERING COMMUNICATIONS.

This measure was introduced last session (2020 – H.B. 1708/S.B. 2149) (2019 – H.B. 164/S.B. 139), but did not pass.  This measure amends HRS §11-341 by changing “disclosure date” to when the electioneering communication is publicly distributed rather than when the contract for the electioneering communication is executed.  Also, the measure increases the $2,000 expenditure aggregate amount to $5,000 before the filing of statements of information are required and includes advertisements sent by mail at any rate in the definition of electioneering communication by deleting “bulk rate.”  Lastly, the measure deletes “communications that constitute expenditures by the expending organization” from the exceptions to the definition of “electioneering communications” to make it clear that candidate and noncandidate committees are required to file statements of information.

  • CSC-02 (21), RELATING TO VIOLATIONS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW.

This measure was introduced last session (2020 – H.B. 1707/S.B. 2148) (2019 – H.B. 162/S.B. 137), but did not pass.  This measure amends HRS §11-410 by raising the amount of fine that can be assessed against a Super PAC (that has received or spent more than $10,000 in an election period) from $1,000 to $5,000 and to permit the fine to be up to three times the amount of the unlawful contribution or expenditure.  Also, the measure allows the Commission to order that the payment of the fine assessed against a noncandidate committee, or any portion, be paid from the personal funds of an officer of the noncandidate committee.

  • CSC-03 (21), RELATING TO CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS.

This measure was introduced last session (2020 – H.B. 1706/S.B. 2147) (2019 – S.B. 643), but did not pass.  This measure amends HRS §11-364 by requiring nonresident contributions exceeding 30% of the total contributions received by a candidate committee for each election period to escheat to the Hawaii election campaign fund if not returned to the contributor within thirty days.

  • CSC-04 (21), RELATING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS.

This measure was introduced last session (H.B. 1705/S.B. 2146), but did not pass.  This measure amends HRS §11-340(c) to make clear that the increased fine (not to exceed $300 per day) for the late-filing of preliminary reports only applies to the reports due ten days before a primary, general, or special election.  This measure is necessary due to the additional preliminary reports mandated by the Legislature last session.

  • CSC-05 (21), RELATING TO ORDERS OF THE CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION.

This measure was introduced last session (H.B. 1705/S.B. 2145), but did not pass.  This measure amends HRS §11-410 by (1) amending subsection (b) to provide that a person waives the right to a contested case hearing if the person fails to request a contested case hearing within twenty days of receipt of the Commission’s preliminary determination, and (2) amending subsection (d) to provide that a final order of the Commission may be filed in the First Circuit Court for confirmation as a civil judgment, enforceable and collectible as any other judgment issued in the circuit courts.  These amendments were suggested by the deputies in the Civil Recoveries Division of the Department of the Attorney General who are helping the Commission by enforcing its orders in the First Circuit Court.

  • CSC-06 (21), RELATING TO REPORTS OF CANDIDATE COMMITTEES.

This measure was introduced last session (H.B. 1703/S.B. 2144), but did not pass. This measure amends HRS §11-333(b) by amending paragraph (3) by adding “committee reimbursements to the candidate or other individuals” to the list of expenditures that need to be itemized.  As currently written, only candidate reimbursements need to be itemized.  In many instances, individuals other than the candidate are being reimbursed for campaign costs advanced by those individuals.  Those reimbursements to other individuals should also be itemized.  It further deletes “candidate reimbursements” from the category of expenditures that noncandidate committees must itemize in their reports since noncandidate committees are not allowed to receive or make loans pursuant to HRS §11-335(c}.

  • CSC-07 (21), RELATING TO REPORTS FILED WITH THE CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION.

This is a housekeeping measure.  Provides that candidates do not need to file preliminary general reports if they are either unsuccessful or are elected to office in the primary election.  Amends subsections (b) and (c) of HRS §11-339 to make them consistent with subsection (a) by aggregating contributions and expenditures in determining whether a committee need only file the final election period report.

  • CSC-08 (21), RELATING TO CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION STAFF.

This is a housekeeping measure.  Amends HRS §11-311(b) and §11-402(b) to clarify that Commission staff may initiate complaints on behalf of the Campaign Spending Commission.

REMINDER TO CHECK OFF THE $3 BOX ON YOUR 2020 TAX RETURN

The Commission continues to urge you to check off the $3 “yes” box on your 2020 tax return which permits $3 from state funds (or $6 if married and filing a joint return) to be allocated to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.  The health and sustainability of public funding depends on greater participation of Hawaii taxpayers in checking off the $3 box.  Checking off this box does not increase your tax or reduce your refund.

TERMINATION OF COMMITTEE REGISTRATION WITH THE COMMISSION

If you are a candidate who does not anticipate running in a future State or county election, or you are a noncandidate committee that does not intend to participate in future State or county elections, and your committee has no surplus or deficit in campaign funds, you may want to consider terminating your registration with the Commission.  If so, you will need to complete and submit the following documents:  (1) A “Request for Termination of Registration” form for candidate committees or “Request for Termination of Registration” form for noncandidate committees; and (2) A closing bank statement verifying that your committee’s bank account has been closed.  Further, you must not have any outstanding fines or unresolved matters with the Commission.  Assuming everything is in order, the Commission will approve your termination request and you will no longer be required to electronically file reports with the Commission.

VIOLATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS

The following candidate committees violated the Hawaii campaign finance laws and have failed to comply with the Commission’s orders by refusing to file required disclosure reports and/or pay assessed fines.  Pursuant to HRS §11-410(d), the Commission has been pursuing enforcement actions with the assistance from the Attorney General’s Office – Civil Recoveries Division.  Furthermore, pursuant to HRS §11-156, a candidate who has unfiled disclosure reports or unpaid fines will not receive a certificate of election should that candidate win in a subsequent election.

  • Thomas Belekanich, Friends of Tom Belekanich
  • Donovan Cabebe, Friends of DKC
  • Thora-Jean Cuaresma, TJ CUARESMA – CANDIDATE SD22
  • Banner Fanene, Friends for Banner S. Fanene
  • Howard Greenberg, Committee To Elect Howard Greenberg
  • Kaipo Hanakahi, Hanakahi for OHA
  • Vicki Higgins, Friends for Vicki Higgins 2020
  • Michael Juarez, Michael Jesus Juarez
  • Angela Kaaihue, Angela Kaaihue Campaign
  • Michael Kahikina, Friends for Ainaman
  • Debra Kekaualua, Debra Kekaualua
  • Erik Link, Link El Ohana
  • Jaerick Medeiros-Garcia, Jaerick-Lee Keali’i Medeiros-Garcia
  • Andrew Sexton, Andrew
  • Paul Shiraishi, Friends of Paul Shiraishi
  • Melissah Shishido, Vote Shishido
  • Lenson Sonoda, Friends of Lenson . . . OHA TRUSTEE at Large
  • Naomi Taniguchi, Naomi Julie Ann Taniguchi
  • Kalaniakea Wilson, wilson 4 oha
  • Anosh Yaqoob, Friends of Anosh H. Yaqoob
  • Laurent Zahnd, Team Mr L – Laurent R.B. Zahnd (L) for Mayor

RESULTS OF THE COMMISSION’S 2020 ONLINE SURVEY

Mahalo to everyone who responded to our 2020 online survey.  View the 2020 Survey Results and the Report on 2020 Annual Online Survey in the minutes of the Commission’s monthly meeting held on November 18, 2020.

2021 MEETING SCHEDULE

Commission meetings for 2021 are generally scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. via video conferencing or in-person in Conference Room 204, Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, 235 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.  View the 2021 Meeting Schedule.  Meeting location, dates and times are subject to change so please check the “2021 Meeting Schedule” page prior to attending a meeting.  Because of the emergency order, the Commission has been conducting Zoom video conference meetings.  Please contact us if you would like more information.

2021 STANDARD MILEAGE RATE ANNOUNCED BY INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS)

For those committees that seek reimbursement from campaign funds for the campaign related use of a personal vehicle, the federal standard mileage rate for 2021 is 56 cents per mile (which is 1.5 cents less than last year).  See IR-2020-279 which was adopted by Comptroller’s Memorandum Notice 2020-30.  The Commission reminds these committees that a daily mileage log noting the campaign use and personal use of the personal vehicle satisfies recordkeeping requirements of HAR §3-160-23.  See, HAR §3-160-45(b)(2).

WELCOME NEW COMMISSIONER VICTOR BONFIGLIO

The Commission is composed of five volunteers representing the general public who are appointed by the governor from a list of ten nominees submitted by the judicial council.  In late November 2020, Victor “Vic” Bonfiglio was selected to serve on the Commission.  Commissioner Bonfiglio’s term expires on June 30, 2024.

Vic works as a flight instructor, lifeguard, and school teacher in Honolulu where he and his wife, Mary, have lived for 20 years.  Vic joined the Air Force in 1964 as a 17 year old cadet at the Air Force Academy where he was honored with the Andrews Award as the outstanding cadet in the History Department and served as a Flight Commander.  His 30 years of active duty service as a fighter pilot, paratrooper and commander, included 23 years of overseas duty, 6 years of combat service, 430 combat missions and 321 parachute jumps.  He earned a Master’s degree and was honored with the Kellogg Award as a Distinguished Graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Spanish.  He also studied Latin, German, Italian and Turkish.  After retiring from the Air Force in 1998, Vic was honored as an Outstanding Instructor 8 times by the Education Department.  He flew almost 9,000 hours and was honored twice by the FAA as the Hawaii Flight Instructor of the Year in 2016 and in 2017.