Minutes for December 4, 2019 Meeting

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission
Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, Room 204
December 4, 2019
10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Present
Bryan Luke, Gregory Shoda, Stanley Lum, Maryellen Markley, Ph.D

Staff Present
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Gary Kam, Yayoi Tumamao, Ellisa Vendiola
Deputy Attorney General Valri Kunimoto (*Arrived at 10:08 a.m.)

Call to Order
Chair Luke called the meeting to order at 10 a.m.

Consideration and Approval of Minutes of Meeting on 10/23/19
Chair Luke asked for comments or changes to the minutes.  There were none.  Chair Luke called for a motion to approve the minutes.

Commissioner Lum moved to approve the minutes of the 10/23/19 meeting.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Shoda.  Motion carried (3-0).  Commissioner Markley abstained because she was not present at the 10/23/19 meeting.

New Business
*Docket No. 20-04 – In Re the Matter of David Hamman, et al. vs. Hawaii Republican Party, et al.
General Counsel Kam reported that a complaint had been filed by David Hamman, et al. against Respondents Hawaii Republican Party, et al. for the failure to report in-kind contributions and expenditures.  Respondent Hawaii Republican Party is a registered noncandidate committee that is a political party.  He stated the complainant Mr. Hamman was not present, but that a continuance is being sought pending a lawsuit Mr. Hamman is filing against Respondents concerning their internal election dispute.

Chair Luke stated the issues described in the complaint sounded like an internal issue within the political party and asked why it was brought before the Commission.  General Counsel Kam responded that Mr. Hamman was informed that the Commission will not rule on the political party’s internal election contests and further explained to him that he could withdraw his complaint and refile it after the court renders a decision on his lawsuit.  General Counsel Kam also pointed out that the Commission’s laws are very clear on who is authorized to receive contributions and make expenditures on behalf of a noncandidate committee and that it does not seem like the position of the currently listed treasurer, Marilyn Moniz, is being challenged.  There is also a written communication from Ms. Moniz included in the complaint informing Mr. Hamman that the expenses he sought for her to report as part of the noncandidate committee’s finances were not approved by her.

Chair Luke conveyed his concerns about continuing the case and having to wait for the court to make a decision on Mr. Hamman’s lawsuit against Respondents.  He suggested that the Commission dismiss the case without prejudice.

Mr. Al Frenzel and Mr. Rojelio Herrera, on behalf of the Respondent Hawaii Republican Party, were present.  Chair Luke asked them whether the lawsuit had been filed.  Mr. Frenzel responded that it has not been filed yet.

Vice Chair Shoda stated he does not think it would be a good idea to dismiss the case because doing so now may discourage people from filing complaints.

Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that the complainants are asking for relief that may be outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction and that both parties have their own position as to what the proper procedures were for the political party’s internal election.  She explained that she does not think the Commission has the statutory authority to decide whether the political party’s internal rules were followed and who was rightfully elected as the Kauai Party’s deputy treasurer.  Further, she stated that Commission staff does not have the operational understanding of political party elections and that the officer positions of “chair” and “treasurer” for noncandidate committees in campaign finance may be different than the officers in political parties.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao asked Mr. Herrera whether the Respondent Hawaii Republican Party’s election process rely on any statutes and if they have been challenged in the past.  Mr. Herrera responded that the party relies on its own internal rules.  Mr. Frenzel further added that the enforcement of the internal rules had been challenged in the past, but only within the party’s system.

Commissioner Markley moved to dismiss the complaint without prejudice.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Lum.  Motion carried (3-1).  Vice Chair Shoda opposed.

Mr. Herrera and Mr. Frenzel shared background of the Hawaii Republican Party’s internal election issues involving Mr. Hamman and added that Mr. Hamman is receiving monetary donations through GoFundMe separate from the political party, including donations which he believes are from foreign nationals.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that if Mr. Hamman’s organization is raising money or makes expenditures that aggregate more than $1,000, the campaign finance laws may require that he register and disclose the organization’s finances as a noncandidate committee.

Old Business
*Consideration, Discussion, Approval, and Update of Commission Legislation for the 2020 Legislative Session
General Counsel Kam reported that 6 bills were submitted to the Senate President and House Speaker for introduction for the 2020 Legislative Session.  CSC-07, relating to contribution limits for noncandidate committees, was withdrawn after meeting with House leadership.

General Counsel Kam stated that meetings have been held with the House Speaker and House Finance Chair.

Report from the Executive Director
Report on Compliance of Filing Timely Disclosure Reports
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported that with respect to prior reports, there are 1 to 3 candidate committees and 5 noncandidate committees that have not filed their reports.  All have been referred to the Attorney General – Civil Recoveries Division (“AG-CRD”).

With respect to an update on the status of the cases referred to AG-CRD, Administrative Assistant Tumamao reported the following:  (1) Junior Mataafa – the case was resolved due to compliance.  The candidate committee also terminated its registration; (2) Alika Atay – the fine was paid, but the amended reports have yet to be filed by the court-ordered deadline of March 2020; (3) Debra Kekaualua – a petition was filed with circuit court to obtain compliance with the Commission’s order and waiting on the judgment; (4) Thomas Belekanich – a petition was drafted and will be filed with the court; (5) Michael Juarez – a petition was drafted and will be filed with the court; (6) John White – referred in October but has since been resolved due to compliance; (7)  Tiare Lawrence – referred in October but has since been resolved due to compliance; (8) Eric Link – recently referred; (9) Selena Blackwell – recently referred; and (10) Melissa Shishido – recently referred.

With respect to an update on the compliance of prior matters: (1) Kaniela Ing – fine payments are current and Commission staff is reviewing his amended reports and new filings; (2) Trinette Furtado – pending HRS chapter 91 contested case proceeding which has been set for January 15-16, 2020; and (3) Save Our City – paid the fine and Commission staff is reviewing their amended reports and new filings.

Chair Luke expressed his concerns about the possibility of further issues that may surface upon review of Mr. Ing’s amended reports and new filings.  He sought clarification on what the Commission can and cannot do to address those issues.  Vice Chair Shoda commented that if there are entries in those reports that are questionable, the Commission should not overlook it.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that the Commission staff is looking into how they may be addressed.

Presentation and Discussion of 2020 January CSC Newsletter
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported on the proposed contents of the January 2020 CSC Newsletter which is targeted for distribution on 1/9/20.

Discussion of 2020 Campaign Spending Commission Meeting Dates
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao went over the proposed 2020 Commission meeting dates which will be posted on the Commission’s website.

Update Regarding New Campaign Spending Commissioner
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported Governor Ige recently appointed Neal Herbert to complete Commissioner Tsuji’s remaining term which expires on 6/30/23.  She stated that Mr. Herbert will receive an orientation on 1/8/20 and will attend the 2/19/20 Commission meeting.

Chair Luke asked for a motion to convene in Executive Session to: (1) Consider and approve Executive Session minutes from the Commission meeting on 10/23/19; and (2) Pursuant to HRS §92-5(a)(4), to consult with the Commission’s attorneys on questions and issues pertaining to the Commission’s powers, duties, privileges, immunities, and liabilities regarding McGee v. Campaign Spending Commission and Friends of Calvin Say.

Commissioner Markley moved to convene in Executive Session for the aforementioned reason(s).  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Shoda.  Motion carried (4-0).

Public Session reconvened at 11:37 a.m.

Commissioner Markley moved to adjourn the meeting.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Shoda.  Motion carried (4-0).  Meeting adjourned at 11:38 a.m.

Next Meeting:
Scheduled for Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 10 a.m.