Minutes for December 15, 2010

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission Meeting
Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, Room 204
December 15, 2010
10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Present:
Chair Paul Kuramoto, Gino Gabrio, Dean Robb, Michael Weaver
Steven Olbrich – Excused

Staff Present:
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Grant Tanimoto, general counsel, Ellen Kojima
Deputy Attorney General Robyn Chun

Call to Order:
Meeting convened at 10:05 a.m. with Chair Kuramoto presiding.

Consideration of Minutes:
Commissioner Gabrio moved to approve the minutes of the November 10, 2010 meeting.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Robb.  Motion carried unanimously.

New Business:
Docket No. 10-07  In Re the Matter of Tod Tam, Ohana-O-Rod Tam
A complaint by the Executive Director of the Campaign Spending Commission against Rod Tam and his campaign committee Ohana-O-Rod Tam alleging failure to maintain legible receipts for verification, improper use of campaign funds, false reporting of expenditures and two unreported contributions.

Respondent Tam submitted a letter received by the Commission on 12/14/10, requesting that the matter be continued because of a conflicting obligation and not having legal counsel.

General Counsel Grant Tanimoto recommended that the matter be continued to continue discussions with Mr. Tam.  General Counsel Tanimoto added that Mr. Tam is trying to secure legal representation and that discussions with Mr. Tam have been ongoing and that he has provided some information.

Commissioners questioned and discussed whether Mr. Tam was duly informed that the matter was to be considered at this meeting and whether they should proceed without Mr. Tam being present at the meeting.  General Counsel Tanimoto noted that the complaint was filed on 10/28/10 and provided an outline of discussions with Mr. Tam which began on 11/12/10.

Commissioner Gabrio noted that in the absence of any justification for Mr. Tam not being present that he is inclined to proceed with the review of the complaint and making a decision.  Discussion on options and alternatives commissioners had if the matter is further investigated or referred to a prosecuting authority.

Commissioner Robb suggested that the matter be further investigated.  Commissioner Gabrio stated that after review of the complaint and materials he is prepared to make a decision, which is to refer the matter to the prosecutor.  Further stated that he does not see any reason to further investigate the matter because the prosecutor will need to do their own investigation.  If the prosecutor decides not to proceed the commission still has an opportunity to make a determination on the matter.

Commissioner Gabrio, in the absence of any justification for a continuance, moved to deny the Respondent Tam’s request for a continuance.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Robb.  Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Gabrio moved that in accordance with former Executive Director Barbara Wong’s recommendation the matter be referred to the prosecutor or the proper prosecuting authority.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Weaver.  Motion carried unanimously.

Proposed Conciliation Agreement 10-20  In Re the Matter of Carl Higashi
Proposed Conciliation Agreement is offered to settle a self-reported claim regarding the use of the candidate’s monetary donation from his campaign fund to another candidate rather than the purchase of two fundraiser tickets, in violation of Act 211, SLH 2010, section 11-UU(a)(5).

Respondent Higashi waives notice of violation of the campaign spending law and the opportunity to explain or otherwise respond to the notice of violation in a meeting conducted pursuant to chapter 92.

On August 31, 2010, Respondent Higashi, a candidate for the office of city council, made a $250 donation from campaign funds to another candidate, rather than purchasing tickets to an event held by that candidate, in violation of section 11-UU(a)(5) of Act 211.  Respondent did not knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly violate the law. Executive Director Izumi-Nitao recommends the Commission make a preliminary determination that probable cause exists that a violation has been committed.

Commissioner Weaver moved to find that probable cause exists that Respondent committed a violation.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Gabrio.  Motion carried unanimously.

Respondent Higashi waives findings of fact and conclusions of law and requests a contested case hearing and waives a contested case hearing.  Respondent agrees to a fine of $75.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao recommends acceptance of proposed Conciliation Agreement 10-20 with an assessed fine of $75.

Commissioner Weaver moved to accept proposed Conciliation Agreement 10-20.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Robb.  Motion carried unanimously.

Legislation Update
Latest changes to draft bill CSC-01 to provide further transparency include:

Pg. 14, Section 11-335, additional information to be reported by noncandidate committees;

Pg. 15, Section 11-341, retaining provisions of the current statute, regarding electioneering communications;

Pg. 25, deleting provisions regarding contributions to a noncandidate committee making solely independent expenditures (Sections 11-355 and 11-358)

General Counsel Tanimoto noted that meetings have been scheduled with subject matter chairs at the legislature and bills will be transmitted to the senate president and house speaker for introduction.

Further discussion regarding the potential impact on the Commission’s legislative proposals because of pending litigation to be held in executive session.

Commissioner Gabrio moved to change the order of the agenda (Item 6 before Item 5).  Motion seconded by Commissioner Robb.  Motion carried unanimously.

Report from Executive Director
Update on City Council District 1 Special Election
Associate Director Baldomero reported that the special election will be held on December 29, 2010, as a mail-in vote.  There are 14 candidates and their first report will be due on 12/20/10.  This is also the 3rd special election in the last 20 months.

Corporate Report Filing System
No report

Public Funding
No report

COGEL Conference
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported that there were about 300 attendees.  Those attending from Hawaii included herself, General Counsel Tanimoto, and Chuck Totto, City Ethics office.  General Counsel Tanimoto hosted a Breakfast Table topic entitled “General Counsel, Anything and Everything.”  Other notable presentations included discussions on independent expenditures andCitizens United, campaign finance regulation, new social media in the electoral environment, and concerns by executive directors in addressing budget cuts/reductions.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao joined the COGEL Membership Committee and ad hoc Grants Committee as well as spoke with members of the COGEL Technology Committee regarding networking and communicating with COGEL members.  The 33rd Annual COGEL Conference to be held in Nashville, Tennessee on December 4-7, 2011.

General Counsel Tanimoto also reported on electronic filing systems, issues general counsels face, independent expenditures, Citizens United, and several other sessions that he attended.

Request to Fill General Counsel Position
Request has been resubmitted.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao to follow-up with the new Comptroller as to the status.

Commissioner Robb moved to convene executive session to consult with attorney.  Commissioner Weaver seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

Public session reconvened at 12:02 p.m.

Next Meeting:
Scheduled for Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

Chair Kuramoto asked for a motion to adjourn meeting.  Commissioner Weaver moved to adjourn meeting.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Gabrio.  Motion carried unanimously.

Meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.