Lingle calls reform
attempt naive

She and a key senator debate
the importance of recent campaign
spending legislation

By Richard Borreca

Recent state efforts to reform campaign spending are naive and only help incumbents, says Linda Lingle, Republican candidate for governor.

Lingle, speaking at a legislative seminar for the Building Office Management Association meeting at the Prince Kuhio Hotel, said the bill authored by Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, (D, Waianae) was sincere, but of little help.

The bill limits contributors to a total of $25,000 that they may give to all candidates during an election period.

The bill also forbids companies or people who do business with the city or state from donating to candidates for governor or mayor.

Hanabusa, who was on the panel with Lingle, defended her bill, saying that simply calling for disclosure, as Lingle suggests, would never let the public judge who was or wasn't obeying campaign spending laws.

"You must realize that if you didn't have this law in place, neither the city prosecutor, nor the federal government nor the Campaign Spending Commission can say a law has been violated," Hanabusa argued.

Lingle, however, insisted that the law still allows incumbents to use government money to send out news releases, hold briefings for constituents and an office staff to help with requests from voters.

"But if you are a bright, up- and-coming newcomer and you can convince the business community and the general public to support you, then any restriction on you would then tend to favor the incumbent," Lingle said.

"This just tends to fool the people that you have real reform," Lingle said.

The problem with campaigns is that one person will be asked to raise $100,000 for a campaign and that person will then go out and get other people to give him or her money and then make individual donations to a campaign, Lingle said.

"To say that restricting individual contributions is going to reform campaigning is naive at best and dishonest at worst," Lingle said.

Instead of regulation, Lingle said, the best reform is to require full campaign disclosure, so candidates must report who is giving them money.

Hanabusa disagreed sharply, saying voters will not spend the time to research candidates' campaign fund raising.

"Just giving information is not going to cure the problems we hear so much about," Hanabusa said.

Hanabusa said she wanted to limit the amount of money candidates could raise from outside the state, but she was unable to get support for it.

That drew an immediate reaction from Lingle, who says she plans to get about 20 percent or nearly $1 million from out of state donors.

"When money from out of state comes in, it raises the question of who does the candidate have loyalties to," Hanabusa said.

But, Lingle responded, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye reported raising 98 percent of his money from out of state and "no one would argue that he is not representing the people of Hawaii because, of course, he is."

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