Minutes for April 11, 2012

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission
Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, Room 204
April 11, 2012
10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Present:
Michael Weaver, Dean Robb, Tina Pedro Gomes, G. William Snipes, Mara Miller

Staff Present:
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Gary Kam, Ellen Kojima

Deputy Attorneys General Robyn Chun & Deirdre Marie-Iha

Call to Order:
Meeting convened at 10:15 a.m. with Chair Weaver presiding.

Consideration of Minutes:
Commissioner Snipes moved to approve the minutes of March 14, 2012.  Motion seconded by Chair Weaver.  Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Miller moved to amend the agenda to hear New Business-Report and Update from the Office of Elections before Old Business.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Snipes.  Motion carried unanimously.

New Business:
Report and Update from the Office of Elections

Ms. Lori Tomczyk from the Office of Elections reported that the reapportionment plan was approved on March 8, 2012 and so the Office of Elections began issuing state, federal and county candidate nomination papers.  However, on Friday, April 6, 2012, a federal lawsuit was filed challenging the plan which affects only candidates running for a state House and Senate seats.  She stated that they will continue to issue and file nomination papers until they receive a definitive response from either the courts or the Attorney General’s office.  Also, that they will keep the Commission updated and informed on the status of the suit.

Old Business:
Legislation Update
General Counsel Gary Kam reported on the current status of the following campaign financing bills and resolutions before the legislature this session:

HB 1756, HD 1, which is the Commission’s bill, amends the law by:  defining “matching payment period,” amending the filing deadline for the 1st Preliminary Primary report and codifying the filing deadline for the January 31st Supplemental report, requiring noncandidate committees to identify the candidate supported or opposed by an independent expenditure, and restoring the higher dollar amount used to calculate the voluntary expenditure limit for a candidate running for the office of the prosecuting attorney.  HB 1756 was passed by the House and crossed over to the Senate and was re-referred to the Senate Judiciary & Labor and Ways and Means committees.  Senate committees have not scheduled hearings for the bill.

HB 1927, SD 1 is the fast track bill that amends the filing deadline for the 1st Preliminary Primary report and codifying the filing deadline for the January 31st Supplemental report.  Passed by the House and crossed over to the Senate.  Senate Judiciary & Labor committee amended the bill by taking out the amendment codifying to the deadline for the January Supplemental report, and on 3rdreading the bill was recommitted to the Senate Judiciary & Labor committee.  The bill was probably dead given the recommitment.

HB 2174, HD 1, SD 1 requires that the Commission maintain public records in a searchable database and amends reporting requirements for independent expenditures.  The bill passed the House and crossed over to the Senate and was referred to the Senate Judiciary & Labor committee.  Staff testified in support of the intent of the bill, but asked that it not take effect until after the 2012 elections.  The bill was passed out of Senate Judiciary & Labor and sent to the Floor for third reading.

SB 2493, SD 1, HD 1 (companion bill to HB 1756) passed the Senate and crossed over to the House and passed the House Judiciary committee and referred to the House Finance committee.  HD 1 (by House Judiciary) added an adjustment to the manner in which base amounts for Act 244 comprehensive public funding is calculated (average spent by winning candidates in all districts without dividing by 9) and removed the requirement that noncandidate committees identify candidates supported or opposed by independent expenditures.  On 3/23/12, the bill passed second reading in the House and was referred to House Finance committee.  No hearing was set in House Finance.  We strongly opposed HD 1.  If one candidate in each of the 9 districts received funding in the primary election, it would cost the State over $1.1 million dollars just for the primary election.

SB 2508, SD 2 is the companion bill to HB 1927.  The Senate Judiciary & Labor committee amended the bill by deleting the amendment to codify deadline for the January 31st Supplemental report.  The Senate passed the bill and it crossed over to the House and was referred to the House Judiciary committee.  The House Judiciary committee heard the bill on 3/8/12, and restored the amendment regarding the January Supplemental report.  The Senate disagreed with the House amendments so bill will go to conference committee.

SB 2648, HD 1 authorizes that campaign funds may be used to award scholarships to full-time public students attending an institution of higher learning or at a vocational educational school.  Staff took no position on this bill because candidates are already allowed to donate to schools.  Also, testified that ideally campaign funds should be used for campaign purposes.  The bill flew through the Senate and House and is now on the Governor’s desk.

HCR 5, HD 1 and HR 5, HD 1 are resolutions asking Congress to amend the US Constitution to declare that corporations are not persons. This is in response to Citizens United that held that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money from their treasuries on independent expenditures.  The House Judiciary committee passed the resolutions with amendments and referred it to the House Finance committee.

SR 68 requesting that Hawaii’s Congressional delegation to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution to address campaign spending issues in consideration of Citizens United.  Resolution was heard on 4/3/12 by the Senate Public Safety, Government Operations, & Military Affairs and Judiciary & Labor committees, and it was passed unamended.

New Business:
Consideration and Discussion of Strategic Planning
Discussion on whether the Commission should consider a new strategic plan since the current plan runs until the end of 2012.

Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that planning for the current strategic plan (which is in effect now where none existed before) started in July 2006 with two planning retreats held in February and March 2007 with staff and commissioners. The planning retreats established six goals and six strategic priorities.  The total cost for the strategic planning facilitator, the graphic artist, and the printing of the plan was $8,520.

She continued with a review of the strategic plan goals and priorities including the activities completed, ongoing, and for future consideration.

Discussion ensued including updating, tweaking, and revitalizing goals instead of changing goals, the importance of the strategic planning facilitator having knowledge of social media and web based technology, the implementation of a survey to help update the plan, and the idea of developing an automated calendaring system for deadline reminders.

With respect to whether we undergo a process to consider a new or updated strategic plan, she recommended that the commissioners consider the cost, time, consideration of other projects ongoing or in the near future such as the searchable database, rulemaking as a result of new legislation and because of the recodification of the law, and to consider that the commission composition will change by the end of the year.  Consensus was that this matter be put on the May 2012 agenda for continued consideration and discussion.

Consideration and Discussion of Administrative Fines for Corporation Late Filers and Non-Filers of Disclosure Reports
General Counsel Kam informed commissioners that as a result of reviewing candidate reports, staff has identified corporations who have contributed more than $1,000 to candidate committees, but have not reported this activity to the Commission as required under HRS §11-332.  Letters have been sent informing them of the requirement and ask that they file the report; however, many of the corporations have not been complying.  Staff has also been contacting the applicable candidate committees to see if they could provide a contact name and number for the corporations so that staff could inform them of the need to register and report.

General Counsel Kam further stated that in contrast to candidate and noncandidate committees, there is no statutory provisions addressing fines for unfiled or late reports for corporations; however, he noted that HRS §11-410(a)(2) permits an administrative fine for corporations not to exceed $1,000 for each occurrence or violation of campaign finance laws.

Discussion ensued concerning whether candidates should be informing corporate contributors about registering and reporting, whether a fine should be an amount that is noticed by these corporations, whether a field should be added to the candidate filing system requesting contact information for a corporate contribution, and the possibility that HB 2174 repeals the corporate reporting requirement thereby making corporations who would have fallen under HRS §11-332 effectively noncandidate committees.

Commissioner Snipes moved to amend the agenda to include an Executive Session to consult with attorney regarding discussion of statutory authority to administer or assess fines for corporate late filers and non-filers of reports.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Gomes.  Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Snipes moved that subject to discussions with ICSD the candidate filing system be modified to include an optional field for corporate contact information to be entered by the candidate committee receiving the corporate contribution.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Miller.  Discussion ensued and Associate Director Baldomero was asked what it would entail to accomplish this task.  He responded that he would need to consult with ICSD because it would require an additional field to be added to the appropriate schedule in the candidate filing system.  Because corporate contact information is not information mandated by the statute, it would have to be set up as an optional field.  Motion carried unanimously.

Report from Executive Director:
Report on Initiating an Online Survey
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao provided commissioners a copy of the survey questions that was used to conduct the first strategic plan and a draft of the on-line survey questions she prepared.  She stated that staff could employ survey monkey which is a free-based online service and send out a link to the survey using our new automated email program.  She explained that the survey could be used as a tool if the commission decides to undergo another strategic planning session or could be used to assess/evaluate performance, operations, and/or identify areas that could be improved.  If employed, the commissioners should also consider who it could be sent to, whether the findings should be publicly released, as well as to consider the timing of sending out the survey because it is an election year.

Commissioner Snipes suggested separate questions regarding Facebook and Twitter because some people will engage one and not the other medium.

Commissioner Miller had some editorial comments which she will relay to Executive Director Izumi-Nitao and can be incorporated in the next draft.

Commissioner Snipes moved to convene the executive session to consult with our attorney.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Robb.  Motion carried unanimously.

Public session reconvened at 12:50 p.m.

Next Meeting:
Scheduled for Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

Commissioner Snipes moved to adjourn meeting.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Gomes.  Motion carried unanimously.  Meeting adjourned at 12:52 p.m.