Minutes for December 18, 2013 Meeting

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission
LeiopapaAKamehamehaBuilding, Room 204
December 18, 2013
10:30 a.m.

Commissioners Present:
G. William Snipes, Tina Gomes, Eldon Ching, Gregory Shoda

Staff Present:
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Gary Kam, Ellen Kojima
Deputy Attorney General Valri Kunimoto

Call to Order:
Meeting convened at 10:45 a.m. with Chair Snipes presiding.

Consideration and Approval of Minutes on 11/13/13:
Commissioner Ching moved to approve the minutes of November 13, 2013.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes.  Motion carried unanimously.

New Business
Presentation and Discussion of Data Visualizations of Data Filed on the Commission’s Electronic Filing Systems
Associate Director Baldomero acknowledged ICSD (Karen Higa, Jennifer Silva and Kyle Muranaka), OIMT, and Socrata (Adrian Laurenzi) for their support, work and help with this project.

The data visualization web app went live on the Commission’s website on 11/21/13.  This application permits anyone to see how candidates are spending their campaign contributions and who is contributing to their campaign.  The application include charts and graphics with information on percentage of how contributions are funded, percentage of candidate contributions received in-state versus out-of-state, contributions by location, percentage of contributions from which states and zip codes, percentage of contributions that are $1,000 or less versus more than $1,000, percentage of expenditures by category, percentage of expenditures made in-state versus out-of-state, and percentage of other receipts and loans.  Data is from electronically filed candidate reports from the last 6 ½ years.

At the Digital Summit on 11/21/13, the Chief Information Officer presented a “Transparency and Accountability: Open Government” award to the Commission for its open data efforts and the new data visualization application.

Phase II of this project is the data visualization of noncandidate committees and Super PACs information.

Old Business
Docket Nos. 13-15, 13-24, and 14-02 – In Re the Matter of Bart Mulvihill, Janet Grantham, and Friends and Supporters of Bart Mulvihill State Senate District 6
General Counsel Kam reported that three complaints have been filed against Respondents and that fines totaling $2,550 have been assessed for the non-filing of the Respondents’ Organizational Report and 5 disclosure reports.  Respondent Mulvilhill has filed the outstanding Organizational Report and disclosure reports.  In light of his financial situation, Respondent Mulvihill is requesting that the Commission reconsider the assessed fines and requests that the fines not be enforced.

Commissioner Shoda moved to reconsider Dockets Nos. 13-15, 13-24, and 14-02.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes.  Motion carried. (aye – Snipes, Gomes, Shoda / no – Ching)

Discussion ensued on whether the fines assessed should be reduced or waived.  Commissioner Ching felt that there should be some kind of fine assessed for Respondents’ failure to file a number of disclosure reports on time. Commission Shoda noted that if a fine is assessed, it could be in keeping with what the Respondent is able to afford.  Chair Snipes stated that candidates need to understand what the responsibilities are when they become a candidate, and with previous requests for reconsideration in similar cases, the Commission waived the assessed fine when the candidate terminated their registration within a determined deadline.  Commissioner Ching stated that even if the candidate terminates their registration, there should be a fine for having violated the law.

Chair Snipes moved that the $2,550 fines not be enforced if Respondents terminate the candidate’s registration by January 2, 2014.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes.  Motion did not carry (no – Ching & Shoda).

Commissioner Ching stated that he wanted a fine of $500.  Commissioner Shoda stated that he wanted a fine of $100 but would defer to $500 with the same conditions of termination suggested by Chair Snipes and Vice-Chair Gomes.  Discussion on collection of the fine if Respondents did not pay as well as time and resources for Commission staff to enforce (i.e., process servers, filing in First Circuit Court, etc.)

Matter deferred until the end of the agenda.

Discussion and Update of Proposed Amendments to the Hawaii Administrative Rules Affecting Campaign Spending Commission
General Counsel Kam reported that the Commission’s request to conduct public hearing has been submitted to the Governor’s office.  Governor’s office was waiting for approval and comments from Department of Budget & Finance and Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT).  On 12/17/13, staff received from DBEDT their recommendation to proceed with public hearing.

Discussion and Update of Commission Related Legislation for 2014 Legislative Session
General Counsel Kam reported that in addition to the three proposals previously discussed with the Commissioners, he is recommending that a fourth proposal be submitted.  CSC-04 is a housekeeping measure which amends HRS §11-359(b) (Family Contributions) to provide that a contribution by the candidate’s immediate family shall be exempt from §11-357 (contribution limits to candidate committees) rather than §11-355 (government contractors ban).  General Counsel Kam advised that this amendment is more in line with the prior statute before the recodification.

Chair Snipes moved to accept proposed legislation CSC-04.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes.  Motion carried unanimously.

Report from Executive Director:
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported on the following items:

Report on Compliance of Filing Timely Disclosure Reports
With respect to the Supplemental Report which was due on July 31, 2013, First Circuit Court Applications were filed against Adam Reeder, Nora Pajimola, and Bart Mulvihill for noncompliance with a Commission order.  All three candidates have filed their reports but have not paid the assessed fines.

Report on Candidates Who Were Unsuccessful in the General Election with a Surplus
Pursuant to HRS §11-384(d), if a candidate loses an election, they must use their campaign funds as provided in HRS §11-381 (i.e., charitable donations, public school/library donations, purchase 2 tickets to a fundraiser for another candidate or noncandidate committee, make party contributions, or make ordinary and necessary expenses as an officeholder), return funds to contributors, or use in the next subsequent election upon registration for the election.  Funds not used or returned shall escheat to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

On 11/15/12, a memo was sent to 17 candidate committees who were unsuccessful in the general election with a deadline to comply with HRS §11-384(d) by 11/6/13.  A reminder memo was sent on 11/12/13 extending the deadline to 12/10/13.  Full compliance was achieved so no surplus money escheated to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

Report on 2013 COGEL Conference
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported that the 2013 COGEL Conference was held in Quebec City with 8 registrants from Hawaii in attendance.  The conference was invaluable in learning about other campaign finance offices, trends, litigation, legislation and new developments, and it also permitted staff to assess where we are and where we need to go.  This year staff was asked to participate at the conference by hosting a breakfast table topic, introducing the keynote speaker on December 10th, and participating on a panel discussion regarding a workshop on “Walking the Tightrope: Balancing Demands with Diminishing Resources.”  She also informed Commissioners that she has been asked to be part of the Program Committee for the 2014 COGEL Conference.

As for an assessment regarding where Hawaii stands in the campaign finance world, Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that Hawaii is well placed.  Hawaii excels in areas such as electronic filing, data visualization, communications through technology and social media, strategic planning, enforcement, and building relationships with legislators, PACs, community interest groups, elections, ethics, etc.  She further stated that areas staff needs to monitor and be aware of include dark money, disclosure challenges, and independent expenditures.  She concluded that the Commission has a strong team with engaged Commissioners, an Associate Director who is well versed in technology and data, and a General Counsel who enforces the law.

The 2014 COGEL Conference will be December 7-10, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Associate Director Baldomero and Commissioner Shoda offered similar comments regarding the conference.  Associate Director Baldomero also reported on the use of digital/virtual currency known as bitcoins in campaigns.

Report on January 2014 CSC Bulletin
Items to include:  Reminder to committees of the due date for the Supplemental Report; notice that there are insufficient funds to run the Hawaii County Council Comprehensive Public Funding Program for the 2014 election; announcement of new data visualization application on the Commission’s website; receipt of the “Transparency and Accountability:  Open Government” award; availability of new guidebooks, manuals, and e-learning videos for committees; notice that Commission will be revising its administrative rules; repeal of the corporate reporting system on 11/5/14; proposed 2014 legislation; modifications to the noncandidate committee filing system; and reminder to check-off $3 from Hawaii tax returns.

Chair Snipes suggested that the lead item for the newsletter be the $3 tax check-off reminder.

Next Meeting:
Next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 12, 2014, at 10:30 a.m.

Discussion resumed –
Docket Nos. 13-15, 13-24, and 14-02 – In Re the Matter of Bart Mulvihill
Commissioners Ching and Shoda reiterated that there should be a fine even if the candidate terminates his committee registration.  Chair Snipes and Vice Chair Gomes stated that the Commission should continue with past practice and not enforce the assessed fines if the candidate terminates committee registration.

Chair Snipes moved that the $2,550 fines would not be enforced if Respondents terminate the candidate committee’s registration by January 2, 2014.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes. Motion did not carry (no – Ching & Shoda)

Commissioner Shoda moved to continue matter until the next meeting in February 2014.  Motion seconded by Chair Snipes.  Motion carried unanimously.

Chair Snipes moved to convene executive session to consult with attorney.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Ching.  Motion carried unanimously.

Public Session reconvened – 12:00 p.m.

Chair Snipes moved to adjourn meeting.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Ching. Motion carried unanimously.  Meeting adjourned at 12:00 p.m.