From Noelie Rodriguez:
A panel will discuss Clean Elections and Transparency in a forum on
Thursday November 20 at 6:30 p.m. in UCB 100 on the University of Hawaii
Hilo (UHH) campus. The featured speaker will be Carmille Lim the
Director of Hawai’i Common Cause. Also speaking will be Susan Dursin
from The League of Women Voters and Chris Yuen, attorney, former board
member of The Hawaii Elections Project.
In 2008, UHH students played a leading role in the Legislature to pass
the Big Island Clean Elections Pilot Program passed, which allowed
Council candidates who qualified to campaign with public funding
instead of depending on campaign contributions from special interest
donors. The Pilot ran successfully in the 2010 and 2012 County
Council races but has since ended. (The public program was funded by
the $3 voluntary check off on our tax forms, which does not reduce an
individual’s filed personal income tax.)
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, big,
special-interest money has been flooding into political campaigns.
According to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, in 2012, over $4
million was spent on Hawaii campaigns by independent groups. In the
2014 election , a single “independent” group, funded almost entirely
by Monsanto and Dow Chemical spent $8 million on a ballot initiative
Nationwide, many Americans believe that the influx of special interest
money in elections threatens the integrity of our democracy. As an
antidote to big money funding their bid for office, with Clean
Elections, candidates have the option of running on public funding so
that they will be more likely to be answerable to their constituents
rather than to their rich campaign donors.
The 2014 Legislature failed to continue the funding of the Big Island
Clean Elections Pilot Program and ultimately killed a bill which
promoted a statewide Clean Elections program. However, in 2013, the
Legislature passed a bill which would require stronger disclosures for
independent groups seeking to influence our elections. The forum will
discuss how the 2015 legislature can continue to combat the corrosive
effects of outside money in Hawaii’s elections.
The event is sponsored by Common Cause Hawaii, Global HOPE, and the
nationwide student group, Democracy Matters.
The panel discussion is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
Parking on the UHH campus is free in the evening.
For more information phone Noelie Rodriguez, 934-2635 or 963-6966.