Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Isle legislators
pool for funds

Both parties form their own
political action committees

By Richard Borreca

Politicians usually turn to political action committees, or PACs, for campaign funds. Now they are forming their own PACs to raise money.

The first PAC for legislators was organized in 1995 to help elect Republicans to the state House. GOP PAC numbers have increased to 15 this year from seven in 1995, with an all-time high of 19 in 2000. PACs are usually formed by a group that wants to influence public policy or legislative voting.

The trend is occurring because politicians are looking for new ways to raise money for candidates of their respective parties.

Bob Watada, Campaign Spending Commission director, said there are no prohibitions on politicians forming PACs.

"Anybody can form a noncandidate committee," Watada said.

The Republicans in the Senate just formed a PAC this year but will not hold the first fund-raiser until next month at the GOP state convention on the Big Island.

Monday evening, the Committee for Responsive Government, the PAC affiliated with the Democrats in the House, held a $100-a-ticket fund-raiser at the Rumors nightclub at the Ala Moana Hotel. House Speaker Calvin Say gave a short speech thanking the estimated crowd of 400.

Organizational papers for the Citizens for Responsive Government PAC were filed in December 2001 by former state Rep. Clarice Hashimoto, who said the PAC was formed to help elect Democrats to the House.

The PAC was modeled after the GOP House PAC, Say said.

"They are the Goliath, and we are David in comparison," Say said.

The committee reports raising $20,200 last year, with most of the funds coming from lobbyists and lobbying organizations. Developer Robert Kobayashi gave $2,000, as did Kobayashi Development. Hidano Construction gave $1,000.

Others giving $1,000 included Island Insurance, Monarch Insurance, IBEW Local 1357 and Hawaii Medical Service Association and lobbyist G.A. "Red" Morris, who represents business and development interests.

Contributions of $500 were given by SSFM, the engineering firm that, according to the Campaign Spending Commission, has given about $400,000 to more than half a dozen local political candidates during the past decade.

Also giving $500 were John Radcliffe, a business and union lobbyist, and Linda Chu Takayama, who represents health care companies and groups.

Say explained that the House Democratic PAC sent requests for contributions to all registered lobbyists in the state and also to donors to the Republican Lincoln Day dinner.

The money will go to hire a campaign consultant for House Democratic candidates and provide them money for the general election next year.

"It will show support for our House incumbents and new candidates," Say said.

Last year, the House Democrats gave $7,000 to Kim Devlin, a national Democratic political consultant, who helped design campaign mailings for Democrats.

The Senate GOP PAC was formed at the request of Senate GOP leader Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo).

"This way, people will be able to see more balance in the Senate," said Hemmings, who has five GOP votes in the 25-member Senate.

The Senate GOP PAC will also be charging $100 for its breakfast fund-raiser during the May GOP convention.

Republicans in the state House hope to raise $100,000 for next year's campaign. Rep. Chris Halford (R, Makena-Kihei) said last year the GOP was able to raise almost $60,000.

The money goes for candidates in the form of direct subsidies, Halford said.

"Our goal is to give support to 51 Republican House candidates," Halford said.

State of Hawaii
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