Minutes for December 15, 2021 Meeting

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission
Zoom Video Conference
December 15, 2021
10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Present
Stanley Lum, Bryan Luke, Neal Herbert, Vic Bonfiglio

Staff Present
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Gary Kam, Yayoi Tumamao, Janelle Tanna
Deputy Attorney General Candace Park

Maryellen Markley, Ph.D.

Sandy Ma (Common Cause)

Call to Order
Chair Lum called the meeting to order at 10:07 a.m.

Chair Lum went over the procedures for this meeting via Zoom and introduced all who were present.

Consideration and Approval of Minutes of Meeting on 11/10/21
Chair Lum asked for comments or changes to the minutes.  There were none.  Chair Lum called for a motion to approve the minutes.

Commissioner Herbert moved to approve the minutes of the 11/10/21 meeting.  Motion was seconded by Commissioner Luke.  Motion carried (4-0).

New Business – None

Old Business
*Consideration, Discussion, and/or Update of Commission Legislation and Other Campaign Finance Related Bills/Resolutions for the 2022 Legislative Session – General Counsel Kam reported that 5 bills which were approved by the Commission at a prior meeting were submitted to the Legislature on 11/30/21 for the 2022 Legislative Session.

General Counsel Gary Kam stated that CSC-05 (22) was modified to add repeal of “actual expenditure” from the list of items that are not electioneering communications.  He also stated that CSC-06 (22) which would have deemed reports filed more than 10 calendar days late to be unfiled was withdrawn because of existing daily fines for late reports, the fine for a late report could be higher than the fine for a report deemed unfiled after 10 days.

General Counsel Kam further reported that meetings have been scheduled with the leadership and subject matter committee chairs to discuss the Commission’s bills.  So far, he and Executive Director Izumi-Nitao have met with Representative Mark Nakashima and Senator Karl Rhoads.  They are meeting with Senator Sharon Moriwaki on 12/16/21; Senate President Ron Kouchi and Representative Angus McKelvey on 12/17/21; and Speaker Scott Saiki, Representative Della Au Bellati, and Representative Scot Matayoshi on 1/10/22.

Commissioner Herbert asked if there is anything the Commissioners can do to move the bills forward.  General Counsel Kam suggested signing up to receive legislative hearing notices and to attend the hearing if they wish to do so.

Chair Lum asked if there were any more questions for General Counsel Kam.  There were none.

Report from the Executive Director
*Report on Compliance of Filing Timely Disclosure Reports – Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported the following:

  • Preliminary Primary Report was due on 12/8/21:
    • 2 candidate committees were required to file
      • Both candidate committees filed on time (100%)
    • 217 noncandidate committees were required to file
      • 175 (81%) filed on time
      • 40 (18%) failed to file on time
      • 2 (1%) filed late
      • 35 noncandidate committees declared $1,000 or less status, so were not required to file this report
      • As of today, 22 noncandidate committees still have not filed

Commissioner Luke expressed his concern about committees that may insist they did not know about the requirement to file the report even though multiple reminders were sent to them.  Associate Director Baldomero stated that a total of 7 eBlasts were sent to the committees, including the September 10, 2021 memorandum notifying them about the Special Election requirements and reminders to file the report.  Commissioner Herbert commented that some people ignore group emails.  Commissioner Luke stated that their choice to not read them is not an excuse.

Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported that the number of committees that have not filed the prior disclosure reports remains the same.  She also reported that there are 14 cases that are currently with the Attorney General Civil Recoveries Division, and that the only update she has to date is that Tiare Lawrence was recently taken to court and has agreed to pay the fine.

*Update on Special Election for Kauai Prosecutor – Associate Director Baldomero reported the following information for the Special Election:

–       There are 2 candidates running – Rebecca Like and Shaylene Iseri – and based on the Preliminary Primary Report submitted by the candidates:

  • Rebecca Like received about $14,000 in contributions and reported about $3,200 in loans from herself
  • Shaylene Iseri did not receive any contributions and reported a $10,000 loan from herself

–       Based on the Preliminary Primary Reports filed by noncandidate committees, the only activity applicable to the Special Election was a $2,000 contribution by SHOPO made to Shaylene Iseri.  She will be reporting this contribution in the Late Contributions Report and in her next report.

–       Rebecca Like has filed 8 electioneering communications statements and Shaylene Iseri has filed no electioneering communications statements
–       The Late Contribution Report is due on 12/15/21
–       The Primary Election is on 12/18/21

  • Since only 2 candidates are running for this Special Election, both candidates will move on to the General Election regardless of who wins in the Primary Election.

–       The Final Primary Report is due on 1/7/22
–       There were a total of 42,215 ballots that went out to Kauai residents
–       As of yesterday,10,880 (23%) ballots have been received by the Kauai County Clerk’s office
–       Electioneering communications statement filings for the General Election will start on 12/28/21

*Presentation and Discussion of January 2022 CSC Newsletter – Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported on the contents of the Commission’s January newsletter and stated that the targeted publish date is 1/10/22.

*Report on the 2021 COGEL Virtual Conference

Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported that this year’s COGEL Conference was initially scheduled to be held in-person in Denver, Colorado.  However, due to the rising number of COVID cases across the country, the conference was held virtually.  There was a total of 330 attendees and representing the Commission were herself, Associate Director Baldomero, Chair Lum, Commissioner Luke, Commissioner Herbert, and Commissioner Bonfiglio.

Executive Director Izumi-Nitao shared that she found the plenary regarding free speech, fake news, and misinformation interesting.  She also said she enjoyed the session with the new FEC Chair as she was very forthcoming and honest, and talked about the area of reform concerning internet ad disclaimers which is in alignment with what the Commission is currently grappling with.  She wished she could have heard from the FEC Vice Chair as well, but it is great that they now have quorum.  As for the business meeting session, Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that she was on the Awards Committee and the Nominating Committee.  She added that she will sit on the Program Committee for next year’s COGEL Conference in Montreal.

Associate Director Baldomero shared that he enjoyed the topic on free speech.  He said money equals speech ever since 1976, so mandatory limits cannot be placed on political spending and added that 14 billion dollars were spent in the federal election last year.  Associate Director Baldomero also said there was discussion about eliminating contribution limits to candidates who are at a disadvantage when they are opposed by Super PACs with no contribution limit.  He explained that Hawaii faced this issue in the 2018 and 2020 elections when certain candidates received support from Super PACs totaling over 1 million dollars in each election against other candidates who did not receive any or limited support from Super PACs.  Associate Director Baldomero also spoke about the discussion on how requiring more disclosure of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations may cause a chilling effect on contributors who may not want to donate if their names are disclosed on campaign spending reports, and how reapportionment commissions in other states are independent community-based, unlike Hawaii, which is based on political appointments.

Chair Lum shared that he enjoyed the sessions on free speech and bad behavior during COVID.  He said he was amused by the statement that yelling has a role in free speech and how they made a fascinating contrast between what is happening in Canada and in the United States during COVID.  Chair Lum also shared that he enjoyed the topic on FEC and how there are 6 members.  He said he was impressed that the reason for having an even number of commissioners is based on the notion that no one person should decide the case.

Commissioner Herbert shared that his overall thoughts on the conference was that legislators should have attended as they would have benefitted the most from the topics that were covered. He shared that he enjoyed the discussions on police reporting, transparency, lobbying interest, crisis communication, and Voters v. Donors.  He also shared that the lack of rules and regulations regarding misinformation on social media is a big problem and talked about the integrity commission in Canada. Commissioner Herbert also conveyed the technical issues he had encountered logging into the conference and suggested that they pre-test the log in process ahead of time.

Commissioner Herbert asked if there was a Bluebook this year.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao responded that there was no Bluebook for campaign finance this year, but there was one for ethics.

Commissioner Luke stated that this year’s conference was more ethics driven than campaign finance.  He stated that the Bluebook session is usually the best session, but they did not offer that this year.  While topics on ethics were very interesting, he hopes that there will be more campaign finance related topics in the future conferences.  Additionally, Commissioner Luke agreed with Commissioner Herbert that there were issues with access to the conference.

Commissioner Bonfiglio shared his thoughts on the unique situations and problems facing Canada as it was discussed in the conference.  He also shared that he enjoyed the presentation on mail-in voting which he believes is the way of the future but will need more control.  He said Hawaii is already headed towards that direction and how we are going to confirm the identities of voters is going to be a big issue.  He added that based on what he heard in the conference, he feels that the United States needs some kind of national ID.  Commissioner Bonfiglio also said there were interesting contributions by a lot of people and was thankful for the opportunity to attend.

Chair Lum commented that he was very proud of Executive Director Izumi-Nitao for serving on the COGEL committees and thanked her.

Chair Lum asked if there were any more comments.  There were none.

Commissioner Herbert announced that he has been nominated to serve on the Hawaii County’s Cost of Government Commission next year for a one-year term starting in January.  Commissioners and staff congratulated Commissioner Herbert.

Chair Lum moved to adjourn the meeting.  Motion was seconded by Commissioner Luke.  Motion carried (4-0).  Meeting adjourned at 11:04 a.m.

Next Meeting:
Scheduled for Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 10 a.m.