CSC Newsletter – July 2021, Vol. 27, No. 2Posted in Newsletter
CAMPAIGN SPENDING COMMISSION’S CONTINUED RESPONSE TO COVID-19
As the State of Hawaii lifts restrictions and manages COVID-19, the Campaign Spending Commission (Commission) appreciates your kokua and understanding. We continue our efforts to improve and rethink strategies to better service and communicate with you. In preparation for the 2022 election, you will notice that we have made changes to the electronic filing systems in an effort to streamline reporting mandates, updated our manuals and guidebooks, and reviewed our strategic plan. We continue to have our monthly Sunshine Commission meetings and invite you to join us on Zoom.
As we come out of the pandemic, the Commission remains committed and steadfast to its mission to maintain the integrity and transparency of the campaign finance process by enforcing the law, educating the public, administering public financing, and training committees to encourage compliance.
REMINDER TO ALL COMMITTEES TO FILE THE SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT
The next report for all committees is the Supplemental Report covering the period January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021. This report must be electronically filed on your respective filing systems (i.e., candidate filing system (CFS) or noncandidate committee filing system (NCFS)) no later than 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian standard time on Monday, August 2, 2021.
Failure to file this report by the deadline will result in a fine and, if you are a candidate committee or noncandidate committee, your committee’s name will be posted on the Commission website under “Candidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report” or “Noncandidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report.” Moreover, if a fine is assessed against your committee and you fail to timely pay it, Commission staff will issue a complaint against your committee and set it for consideration at the next public Commission meeting. Therefore, we encourage all committees to timely file their reports.
As a reminder, committees do not have to wait until the August 2nd deadline to file the report. The reporting period for the Supplemental Report ended on June 30th so the report can be filed as early as July 1st, but no later than August 2nd.
New reporting schedules have been posted on our website and are provided via the link below for your convenience to track upcoming reporting deadlines. The reporting schedules are also available in the Commission’s downloadable calendar and can be downloaded to your digital calendar on your computer or mobile device.
The Commission will add the necessary reports to your reporting schedule in your respective electronic filing system (CFS and NCFS). These reports must be electronically filed no later than 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian standard time on the day of the deadline. You may also want to consider filing the reports early to avoid penalties because the reporting deadline is always a few days or weeks after the reporting period has closed.
Failure to file any report by the deadline will result in a fine and the name of your committee will be posted on the Commission’s website under “Candidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report” or “Noncandidate Committees That Failed to File or Correct a Report.” Further, if a fine is assessed against your committee and you fail to timely pay it, Commission staff will issue a complaint against your committee and set it for consideration at the next public Commission meeting. Therefore, we encourage all committees to timely file their reports and pay any fines.
Lastly, please remember that when you electronically file your reports with the Commission, candidates, treasurers, and chairpersons (for noncandidate committees) are certifying that the information contained in the filed reports are true, complete, and accurate. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you verify and validate your reports before you file them since the Commission will rely on the electronically filed information which could generate an inquiry/investigation if inaccurate.
UPDATING ORGANIZATIONAL REPORTS
As of January 1, 2021, candidate committees that login to the candidate filing system (CFS) and noncandidate committees that login to the noncandidate committee filing system (NCFS) will be presented with their Organizational Report. Please take the time to review your Organizational Report and make any needed changes.
HRS §§11-322(b) and 11-323(b) provides that any change in information previously reported in the organizational report shall be electronically filed with the commission within 10 days of the change being brought to the attention of the committee chairperson or treasurer. Failure to do so may result in a fine as well as prevent the Commission from communicating with you.
Also, if you are a candidate who intends to run for office in the next election and wants to carry over surplus campaign funds, you must file an amended Organizational Report on the CFS. This applies to candidates who failed to be elected to office who will be running again and candidates who are elected to office who will be running again for a different office to which they were elected and includes term-limited candidates.
TERM LIMITED CANDIDATES
If you are a candidate who is term limited for the office for which you presently occupy, contributions may be sought only if the committee has no surplus and has debt, unpaid expenses, or unpaid loans. See, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) §3-160-31(b)(2). If this does not apply and you intend to seek contributions to run for elective office in the next subsequent election, then you must amend your Organizational Report to notify the Commission and the public of the office you intend to run for within 10 days of receiving contributions or making or incurring expenditures of more than $100 for that office. The contribution limits of the 2022 or 2024 election period will apply to these contributors.
DOWNLOADABLE CALENDAR AVAILABLE ON THE COMMISSION’S WEBSITE
An updated and downloadable calendar of events including (but not limited to) the candidate committee and noncandidate committee reporting schedules, the Commission’s monthly meeting schedule, and the State holidays can be downloaded by individuals into their Apple, Google, Microsoft, Outlook, and Yahoo calendars as well as many other calendar programs that use the standard iCal format, from the Commission’s website. View the Commission’s Downloadable Calendar.
NEW LAWS GOING INTO EFFECT FROM THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
For the 2021 legislative session, the Commission submitted eight (8) bills. They concerned changes to electioneering communications, campaign spending violations, nonresident contributions, campaign finance reports, and processing of Commission orders. Three (3) of the Commission’s bills were passed (see “*” bills). Listed below are the new laws going into effect as a result of the 2021 legislative session.
- * Act 3 (S.B. No. 404, H.D. 2, C.D. 1) (2021 Special Session on 07/06/2021, Veto Override), Relating to Electioneering Communications.
Amends Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) §11-341 by excluding candidates from the requirement of filing statements of information for electioneering communication. The law also lowers the threshold for noncandidate committees and other persons for the filing requirement to kick in (from $2,000 to $1,000) and reduces the filing requirement to just the initial spending that reached the threshold, and nothing further. Thus, beginning with the 2022 elections, if a noncandidate committee (which includes Super PACs) or other person spends $1,000.01 for an electioneering communication in the primary election, it will have to file a statement of information. However, if the noncandidate committee or other person goes on to spend more money on political advertisements, no further statements of information will be filed, no matter how much more money is spent in the same calendar year. The law also amends the definition of “electioneering communication” so that the disclosure requirement will apply to all political advertisement sent by mail and not just those sent at a bulk rate.
This bill was introduced as a Commission bill, but was dramatically changed by the Legislature. The Commission recommended that the Governor veto the amended bill, which he did, which was then subsequently overridden by the Legislature in a special session.
Amends HRS §11-338 by providing that contributions aggregating more than $500 that are made to candidates, who are on the ballot, within the period of fourteen (14) calendar days through four (4) calendar days before an election, must be reported in a late contribution report. Such contributions made to candidates who are not on the ballot need not be reported in a late contribution report.
Amends HRS §11-340 to clarify that the higher minimum fine of $300 per day applies to the preliminary reports due ten (10) calendar days before an election (i.e., 2nd Preliminary Primary Report and 2nd Preliminary General Report).
- * Act 205 (S.B. No. 402, H.D. 1, C.D. 1), Relating to Reimbursements for Expenditures by Committees.
Amends HRS §11-333 and §11-335 to provide that, in addition to candidates, candidate committees may reimburse other individuals for costs advanced for expenditures and requires that these reimbursements be itemized in disclosure reports. The law also removes the ability of noncandidate committees to reimburse candidates for costs advanced since noncandidate committees are prohibited from receiving loans.
Amends HRS §11-364 to require candidate committees to return excess nonresident contribution(s) to the contributor(s) within thirty (30) days of the end of the election period. If not, the excess nonresident contribution(s) will escheat to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.
REMINDER TO CHECK OFF THE $3 BOX ON YOUR 2021 TAX RETURN
The Commission continues to urge you to check off the $3 “yes” box on your 2020 tax return which permits $3 from state funds (or $6 if married and filing a joint return) to be allocated to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund. The health and sustainability of public funding depends on greater participation of Hawaii taxpayers in checking off the $3 box. Checking off this box does not increase your tax or reduce your refund.
TERMINATION OF COMMITTEE REGISTRATION WITH THE COMMISSION
If you are a candidate who does not anticipate running in a future State or county election, or you are a noncandidate committee that does not intend to participate in future State or county elections, and your committee has no surplus or deficit in campaign funds, you may want to consider terminating your registration with the Commission. If so, you will need to complete and submit the following documents: (1) A “Request for Termination of Registration” form for candidate committees or “Request for Termination of Registration” form for noncandidate committees; and (2) A closing bank statement verifying that your committee’s bank account has been closed. Further, you must not have any outstanding fines or unresolved matters with the Commission. Assuming everything is in order, the Commission will approve your termination request and you will no longer be required to electronically file reports with the Commission.
VIOLATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS
The following candidate committees violated the Hawaii campaign finance laws and have failed to comply with the Commission’s orders by refusing to file required disclosure reports and/or pay assessed fines. Pursuant to HRS §11-410(d), the Commission has been pursuing enforcement actions with the assistance from the Attorney General’s Office – Civil Recoveries Division. Furthermore, pursuant to HRS §11-156, a candidate who has unfiled disclosure reports or unpaid fines will not receive a certificate of election should that candidate win in a subsequent election.
- Thomas Belekanich, Friends of Tom Belekanich
- Donovan Cabebe, Friends of DKC
- Madeline Greene, Friends of Madie Greene
- Debra Kaiwi, Friends of Deb Kaiwi
- Debra Kekaualua, Debra Kekaualua
- Kristina Kim-Marshall, Friends of Kristina Kim-Marshall
- Tiare Lawrence, Tiare Lawrence for Maui
- Theresa Marler, Friends of Aloha Aina
- Jaerick Medeiros-Garcia, Jaerick-Lee Keali’i Medeiros-Garcia
- Paul Shiraishi, Friends of Paul Shiraishi
- Marcelino Velasco, Velasco Campaign 2018
- Laurent Zahnd, Team Mr L – Laurent R.B. Zahnd (L) for Mayor
- Melissah Shishido, Vote Shishido
- Beau Hawkes, We the People
- Kevin McDonald, Friends of Kevin McDonald
- U’i Kahue-Cabanting, U’i Kahue-Cabanting
- Lenson Sonoda, Friends of Lenson . . . OHA Trustee At Large
- Chelsea Yagong, Friends of Chelsea Yagong
2021 MEETING SCHEDULE
Commission meetings for 2021 are generally scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. via video conferencing or in-person in Conference Room 204, Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building, 235 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. View the 2021 Meeting Schedule. Meeting location, dates and times are subject to change so please check the “2021 Meeting Schedule” page prior to attending a meeting. Because of the emergency order, the Commission has been offering Zoom video conference options for our meetings. Please contact us if you would like more information.
2021 STANDARD MILEAGE RATE ANNOUNCED BY INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS)
For those committees that seek reimbursement from campaign funds for the campaign related use of a personal vehicle, the federal standard mileage rate for 2021 is 56 cents per mile (which is 1.5 cents less than last year). See IR-2020-279 which was adopted by Comptroller’s Memorandum Notice 2020-30. The Commission reminds these committees that a daily mileage log noting the campaign use and personal use of the personal vehicle satisfies recordkeeping requirements of HAR §3-160-23. See, HAR §3-160-45(b)(2).