Minutes for June 17, 2015 Meeting

Posted in Minutes

Campaign Spending Commission
Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, Room 204
June 17, 2015
10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Present
William Snipes, Tina Gomes, Eldon Ching, Gregory Shoda, Adrienne Yoshihara

Staff Present
Kristin Izumi-Nitao, Tony Baldomero, Gary Kam, Ellen Kojima
Deputy Attorney General Valri Kunimoto and Deputy Solicitor General Deirdre Marie-Iha

Call to Order
Meeting convened at 10:11 a.m. with Chair Snipes presiding.

Consideration and Approval of Minutes of May 20, 2015 Meeting
Commissioner Ching moved to approve the minutes of May 20, 2015. Motion seconded by Commissioner Yoshihara.  Motion carried (4-0).

New Business – None

10:15 a.m. Vice Chair Gomes arrived.

Old Business
Consideration and Discussion of Commission Legislation and/or Other Campaign Finance Related Bills/Resolutions for the 2015 Legislative Session
General Counsel Kam reported that the 2015 Legislation handout has been updated and that two of the three bills transmitted to the Governor have been signed into law.

SB 508 (SD 1, HD 2, CD 1) – Act 79 which becomes effective 7/1/15 amends HRS §11-336 to require an additional report for noncandidate committees on October 1 of the election year;

SB 654 (SD 1, HD 2, CD1) – Act 78 which becomes effective 1/1/16 amends HRS §11-353 to reduce the calabash threshold from $500 to $100; and

HB 1491 (HD 2, SD 1, CD1) –  Pending Governor’s action on this bill which amends HRS 11-323 to require additional reporting by Super PACs receiving contributions of more than $10,000.

Report from Executive Director
Report on Compliance of Filing Timely Disclosure Reports
General Counsel Kam reported that staff is still waiting to hear from the Attorney General’s Office on whether or not they will proceed with the filing of the 1st Circuit Court applications.

General Counsel Kam also reported that he met with Mike Vincent of the Civil Recoveries Division of the Attorney General’s Office regarding the collection of the outstanding fines.  Mr. Vincent stated that if the Commission obtains the order and judgment, they will use that to collect the outstanding fines.  General Counsel Kam stated the Attorney General’s Office, as part of the collection process, can put a stopper on a debtor’s car registration.  General Counsel Kam also stated that he had two concerns with the collections process.  First, being that our statute states that for those who do not comply with a court order, the matter “shall be punishable as contempt”, and second, often the orders require the filing of reports and he was not certain that could be assigned as a collection matter.

Commissioner Ching asked if the amount of the Commission’s fines were too small or low.  General Counsel said no.

Chair Snipes stated that he would be drafting a strong letter to the Attorney General regarding the Commission’s concerns about the lack of support the Commission is receiving regarding the processing of 1st Circuit Court applications.  He remarked that it has been difficult for the Commission to meet its statutory obligations when it does not get the support it needs from the Attorney General’s Office.

Continued Discussion on Succession Planning of Commissioners
Discussion was continued from the 4/15/15 and 5/20/15 meetings. Chair Snipes’ and Vice Chair Gomes’ terms will be ending on June 30, 2015, and both have indicated that they would consider holding over if it becomes necessary due to the cases in the pipeline.

Chair Snipes noted that Commissioner Shoda had volunteered at the last meeting to serve as the chair.

Commissioner Ching asked staff if there would a disadvantage to waiting until the new members are appointed by Governor Ige before selecting a new chair.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao stated that staff keeps the chair informed of developments and issues that come up so that he or she is aware of how the meetings are to be run, but that staff could advise Chair Snipes should he hold over in the interim.

Discussion ensued on whether selection of a new chair should wait until the new members are appointed.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao to follow-up with the Governor’s office on the appointment of new members and update Commissioners at the next meeting.

Report on Meeting with Department of Tax Regarding Tax-Check-Off
Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reported that Common Cause Hawaii has been looking for ways to increase participation of the $3 tax check-off, and the strategy that they have come up with is to provide more education and awareness.

Christine Trecker of Common Cause Hawaii, Associate Director Baldomero, and Executive Director Izumi-Nitao approached the Department of Tax and met with two staff members to discuss recommendations that they could present to their Forms Committee for consideration.   They agreed to distribute a flyer regarding the tax check-off at a workshop held for tax preparers. Commission staff will also be drafting another letter to CPAs and tax preparers as another way to get more awareness and assistance for the check-off.  Executive Director Izumi-Nitao noted that in light of Common Cause’s bill not passing regarding the Commission’s finances, this is a strategy to address the sustainability of the Commission which is a goal of the strategic plan.

Executive Director Izumi-Nitao reviewed for Cmmissioners the documents presented at the meeting:

-An email from Common Cause Hawaii to the Department of Tax regarding recommended changes;
-Common Cause Hawaii’s recommended text changes – first change is to the actual tax form and the second is with the tax instructions; and
-The Hawaii Election Campaign Fund flyer.

Discussion ensued regarding the term “watchdog agency” used in the flyer, increasing the check-off amount, the need to emphasize that the check-off does not impact a filer’s tax liability or refund, and the need to get people to understand what the fund is about.

Commissioner Yoshihara moved to convene Executive Session to consult with attorney pursuant to HRS §92-5(a)(4) and to investigate proceedings regarding criminal misconduct pursuant to HRS §92-5(a)(5).  Motion seconded by Commissioner Ching.  Motion carried unanimously.

Public session reconvened – 11:20 a.m.

Next Meeting:
Scheduled for Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Commissioner Yoshihara moved to adjourn meeting.  Motion seconded by Vice Chair Gomes. Motion carried unanimously.  Meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.