Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Legislature 2002

Gov wants to ban donations
from unions and businesses

By Richard Borreca

A move to block campaign contributions from unions and businesses has picked up the support of Gov. Ben Cayetano, who says recent investigations of campaign irregularities give more reason for a new law.

In a meeting with reporters yesterday at the Capitol, Cayetano said he supports proposals that would bring Hawaii's campaign spending and fund-raising law in line with U.S. law.

"Given all that has gone on the last couple of years, we have been looking at whether Hawaii should conform to federal law," Cayetano said. "There are some bill downstairs that we will support."

Cayetano was reportedly going to include support for campaign reform in his State of the State message, but at the last minute decided against it.

His speech was given just days after the State Campaign Spending Commission voted to turn over to the city prosecutor a series of charges that Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign had violated spending laws. Harris has denied the charges.

Legislators say that the recent publicity about campaign spending is fueling a new drive this year to change the system.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Nuuanu, Punchbowl) said while the House has been pushing for campaign finance reform for the last two years, it has been blocked in the Senate.

"Now it seems that we have some concessions from the Senate," said Luke, House vice speaker.

"What is happening recently makes it seem there is big money influence. It seems those who have the big money to run or can raise the money actually end up running," she said.

"So this will level the playing field, and if more people are running, maybe people will have more confidence in the political process," Luke said.

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