Advisory Opinion 06-03

     This Advisory Opinion addresses a concern raised by a candidate who attended a Commission workshop earlier in the year.  The question is whether there is a contribution to a candidate when a ticket is given to the candidate, without cost, to attend a non-profit event.

     A “contribution” includes any gift, deposit of money, or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election, or election, of any person to Hawaii elective office.1  The Commission interprets this term broadly and anything of value is a contribution, unless an exemption exists.

     If the ticket is provided to the candidate to influence the candidate’s nomination for election, or election to office, the fair market value of the meal portion of the ticket is a non-monetary contribution.  The presumption is that the provision of the ticket is to influence the candidate’s nomination for election, or election to office.

     The Commission expresses no opinion regarding the potential application of ethics law to this issue where the candidate is an elected official, because that issue is not within the jurisdiction of the Commission.

     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.


Paul Kuramoto

Steven E. Olbrich
Vice Chairperson

Gino Gabrio

Dean Robb

Michael E. Weaver


1 “Contribution” means:
(1) A gift, subscription, deposit of money or anything of value, or cancellation of a debt or legal obligation and includes the purchase of tickets to fundraisers for the purpose of:
(A) Influencing the nomination for election, or election, of any person to office:
(B) Influencing the outcome of any question or issue that appears or is reasonably certain to appear on the ballot at the next applicable election described in subparagraph (A); or
(C) Use by any party or committee for the purposes set out in subparagraph (A) or (B);
(2) The payment, by any person political party, or any other entity other than a candidate or committee, of compensation for the personal services or services of another person that are rendered to the candidate or committee without charge or at an unreasonably low charge for the purposes set out in paragraph (1)(A), (1)(B), or (1)(C);
(3) A contract, promise, or agreement to make a contribution; provided that notwithstanding this paragraph and paragraphs (1) and (2), the term “contributions” shall not include services or portions thereof voluntarily provided without reasonable compensation by individuals to or in behalf of a candidate or committee; or
(4) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), a candidate’s expenditure of the candidate’s own funds or the making of a loan or advance in the pursuit of the candidate’s campaign shall not be a contribution for the purpose of this subpart but shall nevertheless be reportable as a campaign receipt.