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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Passing the Buck(s) in Hawaii

On June 25, Governor Linda Lingle sent notice to the Hawaii Legislature of her intent to veto campaign finance bill SB459. Among its provisions, the bill barred campaign contributions from contractors with more than $25,000 in aggregate contracts with the state and prohibited contributions from out-of-state corporations or unions.

Lingle's reasoning: the bill had "very serious technical errors" which might have affected its constitutionality and led to "large attorney fee awards" against the state.

Well, mebbe so and mebbe not. The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld a ban on out-of-state contributions, while courts in Vermont have struck them down. So at the very least, the out-of-state part is on the table.

As to prohibiting corporate contributions, lots of states have done it, and lots of courts have upheld it.

So what's in the way of Lingle signing the bill? Huge attorney's fees? C'mon. Pass the bill. It goes into effect. If some out-of-state corporation wants to go against the wishes of the elected representatives of Hawaii and challenge a Hawaii law in Hawaii state courts, there are still plenty of points along the way for the state of Hawaii to avoid judgment.

If Lingle isn't just making excuses, but is actually serious about keeping big money out of Hawaii politics, maybe next time she should think about working with the legislature in the crafting of a reform bill and not wait until the last second to make a lame argument to avoid taking what is a pretty piddly step in the first place.

Maybe that's too much to ask.

If it isn't, and you want to let Governor Lingle know that you think it would be a great idea for her to work with the legislature on providing a level playing field for candidates in Hawaii, you can drop her a line at:

http://www.hawaii.gov/gov/gov/email



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