Minutes for July 10, 2013 Meeting

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission
Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, Room 204
July 10, 2013
10:30 a.m.

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

Staff Present:
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Gary Kam, Sandrina Lee, Ellen Kojima
Deputy Attorney General Robyn Chun and Valri Kunimoto

Call to Order:
Meeting convened at 10:35 a.m. with Chair Snipes presiding.

Consideration of Minutes on 6/12/13:
Vice Chair Gomes moved to approve the minutes of June 12, 2013.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Ching.  Motion carried (Weaver, Snipes, Gomes, Shoda). 

New Business
Presentation and Discussion with Prosecuting Attorney Offices Concerning Commission Referrals of Complaints for Prosecution of Campaign Finance Violations
General Counsel Kam introduced Lance Goto, Deputy Attorney General, and Chris Van Marter, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, who will address the Commission on the processes and procedures of what happens when their respective offices receive a referral from the Commission.

Deputy Prosecutor Van Marter explained that he is in charge of the White Collar division of the City & County of Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  He stated that a deputy prosecuting attorney gets involved on day one of the referral with an investigator to review documents and consider search warrants and subpoenas.  If there is enough evidence, charges are identified and the case is brought before a grand jury to determine if there is enough for an indictment.  A deputy prosecuting attorney would then be assigned to the case.

Deputy Attorney General Goto explained that he is with the Criminal Justice Division of the Attorney General’s Office and that due to their limited resources, the Commission is deemed to be the initial screener of the case and that the division prefers looking at more significant violations of campaign finance law (i.e., misuse of funds) rather than minor violations such as failure to file reports.  Deputy Attorney General Goto encouraged the Commission to contact his division if it is unsure about whether the division would handle the matter.  If the matter is referred, an investigator is assigned to develop the case.  If there is sufficient evidence, the case will proceed to prosecution.

Discussion ensued regarding what Commissioners should consider before they decide to refer a case and what the prosecutor or attorney general offices considers when a case has been referred and before they will accept it for prosecution.

Vice Chair Gomes asked about why Commission referrals have been declined and Deputy Attorney General Goto responded that it depends on the case.

General Counsel Kam informed the Commission that the Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office has explained to staff their reasons for not prosecuting recent referrals.  However, if the cases were brought back before the commissioners, the cases were discussed in an open meeting so the criminal referral could not be discussed.  Perhaps in the future, the referrals that come back could be discussed in executive session as a criminal referral to discuss the reasons why prosecution was declined.  After criminal referral discuss, the commission could then meet in an open meeting to determine administrative fine.

Chair Snipes asked if a referral is declined, but in the process, more evidence was generated, whether that evidence could be shared with the Commission.  Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Van Marter responded that it would be unlikely because the evidence was generated by law enforcement and that confidentiality provisions must be maintained.

Presentation and Discussion of Amendments to the Hawaii Administrative Rules Affecting Campaign Spending Commission
General Counsel Kam informed the Commissioners about the Hawaii Administrative Rules process and staff’s timeline.

The Commission has three sets of rules: (1) Chapter 160, Contributions and Expenditures; (2) Chapter 161, Contested Case Hearings; and (3) Chapter 162, Act 244, which expires after the 2014 election.  The majority of amendments will be in Chapter 160.  General Counsel Kam explained that he will be meeting with Common Cause and League of Women Voters regarding any suggested or recommended amendments to the rules.  He further stated that a draft of the rules will be available for discussion at the September meeting.

Old Business
Docket No. 13-25 – In Re the Matter of Erin McLaughlin and Friends of Erin McLaughlin
General Counsel Kam reported that a complaint was filed for failure to file the Final Election Period Report and the Supplemental Report, and at the 6/12/13 meeting, the Commission made a preliminary determination of probable cause and assessed a fine $1,000.  Respondent McLaughlin requested reconsideration of the $1,000 fine assessed and that the fine not be enforced.

General Counsel Kam responded to Respondent McLaughlin that it may help his case if he filed the reports and terminated his committee’s registration.  Respondent McLaughlin has filed the outstanding reports and has submitted a requested to terminate his committee’s registration.

Commissioner Shoda moved to reconsider Docket 13-25.  Motion seconded by Vice-Chair Gomes.  Motion carried unanimously.

Chair Snipes suggested that the fine stands at $500 per violation, but that it would not be enforced if the Respondent terminates his registration by a certain date.

Chair Snipes moved that the $1,000 fine would not be enforced if Respondents terminated his registration within one week.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes.  Motion carried (aye-Snipes, Gomes, Ching, Yoshihara / no-Shoda)

2013 Legislation
General Counsel Kam reported that the following bills have been signed into law:

Act 111, SB 31 – Requires noncandidate committees to report contributions received and made as well as to file the 1/31 Supplemental Report regardless of whether it is after an election year.

Act 112, HB 1147 – Requires noncandidate committees to identify certain top contributors for advertisements, clarifies that persons who fail to file is subject to monitoring and penalties, amends reporting, and repeals HRS §11-332 (corporate filing system).

Act 287, SB 3 – Requires Office of Hawaiian Affairs candidates to run in the primary election.

He noted that Acts 111 and 112 will require changes to the electronic filing system for the reporting of additional information.  Act 287 is not a campaign finance bill, but it impacts the Commission with respect to the distribution of partial public funding to qualifying Office of Hawaiian Affairs candidates.  General Counsel Kam will be working with Deputy Attorney General Kunimoto on the issue.

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

Welcome New Commissioner Adrienne Yoshihara
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao welcomed new member Adrienne Yoshihara who has been appointed to serve on the Commission effective 7/1/13 until 6/30/17.  Ms. Yoshihara is a partner with the firm Chun Kerr where she practices in the areas of tax, commercial transactions, and estate planning.  She received her BA in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College, a JD from the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, and a LLM in Taxation from New York University.  She has served on the boards of a number of community and charitable organizations.  She received an orientation from staff on 6/13/13 and was sworn in this morning.

Report on Compliance of Filing Timely Disclosure Reports
No new update.

Deputy Attorney General Chun introduced Deputy Attorney General Valri Kunimoto, who will now be advising the Commission.

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

Public Session reconvened – 12:25 p.m.

Next Meeting:
After a brief discussion on whether the meeting date should be changed from the 2nd Wednesday to either the 1st or 3rd Wednesday of the month, it was decided to continue with meetings being held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.

Next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, September 11, 2013, at 10:30 a.m.

Commissioner Ching moved to adjourn meeting.  Motion seconded by Commissioner Yoshihara. Motion carried unanimously.  Meeting adjourned at 12:30 p.m.