Furlough ads sourced


POSTED: Saturday, February 06, 2010

QUESTION: Can you enlighten me on who subsidized/paid for the TV ads “;Voice for Learning,”; which specifically targeted Gov. Linda Lingle? I was under the impression that all political ads had to have their source. Did I miss it in the ads?

ANSWER: Voice for Learning was a co-sponsor of two ads that were broadcast on local stations the week of Jan. 25.

Bill Gaeth, vice president of sales for KITV-4, said that the 30-second ads that appeared on his station, primarily during newscasts, did name the sponsors at the end of each message: “;Hawaii's Future Was Furloughed”; and “;Stop Furlough Fridays.”;

Save Our Schools Hawaii was a co-sponsor on both ads, while Hawaii Education Matters was a sponsor only on the “;Stop Furlough Fridays”; ad.

Save Our Schools “;is a group of concerned citizens, mostly parents of public school kids,”; said member Marguerite Butler Higa. “;We are a grass-roots group and a collective. We don't really have a formal organization.”;

Executive Director Ann Davis described Hawaii Education Matters as “;a nonpartisan grass-roots group of parents dedicated to reforming public school education.”;

As for Voice for Learning, the 501(c)(4) organization “;actively seeks to influence both legislation and policy”; in trying to improve “;overall academic outcomes and narrowing the achievement gap between high- and low-income children in Hawaii's public schools,”; according to William Reeves, a director.

It is “;nonpartisan and has engaged state government leadership at all levels in support of Hawaii's public schools,”; he said.

The ads can be seen on the Save Our Schools Web site,

Because the ads did not involve someone running for office (Lingle is not running for re-election or for another office this year), the state's campaign disclosure laws do not apply, said Barbara Wong, executive director of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.

If a candidate were involved, the ad would have to disclose the name and address of the person or group that paid for it, as well as say whether it was running with or without authority of the candidate, Wong said.

While the Federal Election Commission requires candidates for federal office to say “;I approved this ad”; or something similar in all TV and radio broadcasts, state law doesn't require that personal disclosure if the candidate is speaking in an ad.

Political committees for federal candidates also are required to identify the sponsors on all public and electioneering communication and “;any person that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or solicits funds in connection with a federal election.”;

If a federal candidate has not approved a message, the ad must disclose the name of the political committee or person responsible for the message.

Wong suggested we contact the state Ethics Commission regarding whether any lobbying laws would apply to the Furlough Friday ads, which encourage viewers to contact Lingle to end the furloughs.

When the Ethics Commission does receive information about these kinds of ads, the normal procedure is to contact the sponsoring groups and discuss whether the state's lobbying requirements would apply, said Susan Yoza, the commission's deputy director.

She said it would do so in this case, based on what the ads said.

The lobbying law, covered under Chapter 97 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, does not require disclosure unless an individual or organization spends more than $750 lobbying during a reporting period. If so, they have to report those lobbying expenditures to her office, Yoza said.

“;We define lobbying to mean communicating either directly or soliciting others to communicate with someone in the legislative or executive branch on a legislative or administrative action,”; she said.

If the action turns out to be lobbying, then the individual or group has to report how much money was spent on lobbying and whether it received contributions for the lobbying activities.

The Ethics Commission requires lobbyists to register with its office only if they are paid lobbyists, Yoza said. If anyone has questions about the ethics laws, call the commission at 587-0460.


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