Isle campaign law praised
A national group rates Hawaii among the top five states in terms of financial disclosures
A new state law requiring candidates for most elected offices to file campaign spending reports online helped place Hawaii among the top five states nationwide in terms of campaign finance disclosure laws, according to a watchdog group.
Hawaii's overall grade of B was behind only Washington (A-), Florida (B+) and California (B+), the Campaign Disclosure Project reported yesterday. Hawaii received an overall grade of C+ last year.
The state moved up eight spots from last year, putting it near the top of the most-improved state category, the group said.
How Hawaii stacks up
A look at where Hawaii's campaign spending disclosure laws and programs rank among the 50 states:
Overall: B (fourth)
Strength of campaign disclosure law: A- (fourth)
Availability of electronic filing programs : A+ (first)
Public accessibility to campaign finance information: A (fifth)
Usability of state disclosure Web sites: D+ (21st)
Source: Campaign Disclosure Project
"This shows that Hawaii is forward-thinking when it comes to cracking down on campaign spending law," said Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Luke (D, Pacific Heights-Punchbowl) co-sponsored the bill this year requiring online disclosure. The state's online filing program was rated tops in the country.
"This is a tool that's going to help the Campaign Spending Commission to crack down on campaign spending abuses and violations," she added. "Electronic filing will make it easier for (the commission) to do searches and to compare different contributors and filers."
The Campaign Disclosure Project evaluates, grades and ranks states' performance in four areas: the strength of campaign disclosure laws; availability of electronic filing programs; the degree of public access to campaign finance information; and the usability of state disclosure Web sites.
Thirty-four states received overall passing grades.
Hawaii received marks of A- for its disclosure law, A+ for its electronic filing program and an A for the degree of public access to the information.
But the state received a D+ in the final category.
"I am concerned that the technical usability portion received a lower grade," Luke said. "I think that can be solved by perhaps more resources or support for the campaign spending office."
The bill that tightens existing campaign spending laws was one of two reform proposals introduced at this year's Legislature. In addition to the electronic filing requirements, the bill also included a provision that bars state or county contractors from making campaign donations from the time a contract is executed until it is completed, and limits the amount of money candidates can collect from out-of-state sources.
The Campaign Disclosure Project is a collaboration of the UCLA School of Law, the Center for Governmental Studies and the California Voter Foundation. It is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.