Your support helped Common Cause Hawaii have another fruitful year. Read on to learn about Common Cause Hawaii's 2015 highlights and accomplishments.
Common Cause Hawaii saw three big wins in the 2015 Legislative Session:
- Killed senators’ attempts to repeal Late Voter Registration/Same Day Voter Registration.
- Successful passage of SB996 (Act 151), which modernizes the State Ethics. Commission’s database so all reports filed with the Commission are more easily accessible to the public.
- Successful passage of SB508 (Act 079), which creates an additional filing deadline for superPACs, thus making superPAC campaign spending more transparent.
"Mark Yes” to support the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund (HECF) Awareness Campaign— Common Cause Hawaii has partnered with the Hawaii State Campaign Spending Commission to increase awareness and understanding about the HECF, and to increase allocations to the fund. Without an increase in financial support, current projections show the HECF in danger of being depleted by 2018.
The HECF was established to fund the partial public financing program in Hawaii. In addition, the HECF is also used to support the Campaign Spending Commission and their work monitoring and enforcing campaign finance laws. The HECF is funded when Hawaii tax payers who select the “yes” option on their state tax return, which allocates $3 from the general fund to the HECF. These “yes” checkoffs do not affect an individual’s tax returns. There has been a steady decline in the number of people who select “yes” each year. The “Mark Yes” Campaign aims to increase the number of people who select “yes” on their tax returns thereby increasing income to the HECF.
The campaign started in early January 2015 and continued through April 15, 2015 (Tax Day). Efforts included reaching out and educating the public as well as tax preparers across the state, through traditional and social media, as well as direct contact. As Tax Day approached, Common Cause Hawaii was able to capitalize on the media’s and public’s interest, resulting in an interview on Hawaii Public Radio and Op-Ed piece in the Star Advertiser, Hawaii’s largest newspaper. Mahalo to Christine Trecker’s leadership on this campaign.
Overturn Citizens United– Common Cause Hawaii supports overturning Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for unlimited spending by superPACs. In response, the Hawaii State Legislature, Hawaii County Council, and Honolulu County Council each passed resolutions urging Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution and reverse Citizens United, soon after the decision was handed down.
In 2015, thanks to the efforts of Common Cause Hawaii supporters and volunteers, the Kauai County Council and Maui County Council also passed similar resolutions and are now on record supporting the reversal this horrendous Supreme Court decision. These resolutions will hasten the day when corporations stop buying elections in Hawaii, and across America.
These successes on Maui and Kauai could not have been possible without the leadership of neighbor island organizers Sandy Herndon and Arianna Feinberg.
To view the resolutions and learn more about our work on Kauai and Maui, click here.
- Are County Board of Ethics Members Funding Their Mayors?
This report analyzes campaign contributions by county board of ethics members to their respective mayors, to determine if there is a correlation between contributions made and appointments to counties’ Board of Ethics. Click here to read the report.
- Public Boards Audit
Common Cause Hawaii conducted an “audit” of Hawaii State boards, commissions, and agencies, in order to determine how they are interpreting and complying with Hawaii’s Sunshine or Open Meetings Law. Click here to read the report.
- Is the Hawaii State Ethics Commission Rewriting the Ethics Code?
An analysis of Hawaii House Speaker Representative Joe Souki’s claims and complaints and recent Hawaii State Ethics Commission policies, to determine if the current Commission administration is trying to rewrite the Ethics Code. Click here to read the report.
- Top 5 Donors to Hawaii State Legislators
Common Cause Hawaii identifies the "Top 5 Donors" for each 2015 Hawaii State Legislator based on campaign finance data from the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission. Click here to read the report.
Unhappy Unbirthday to Citizens United: Screening of Pay 2 Play-Common Cause Hawaii hosted a film screening of Pay 2 Play on the 5th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC decision. The event's theme was "Unhappy Unbirthday" inspired by the "Merry Unbirthday" scene from Alice In Wonderland. Pay 2 Play follows the journey of film maker John Ennis’ quest to find a way out from under the Pay 2 Play System, where politicians reward their donors with even larger sums from the public treasury‒through contracts, tax cuts, and deregulation.
Hawaii Open Budget Demo-Piggy-backing on Sunshine Week, which is dedicated to promoting transparency and public access in government, Common Cause Hawaii presented a live demonstration of the nonpartisan Hawaii Open Budget website. Guest presenters Paul Harleman, Budget Director and Tisha Panter, Senior Attorney and Director of Research of Senate Minority Research Office, provided an overview of the budget process and how to utilize the website. The Hawaii Open Budget Initiative is a joint effort of the Hawaii State Senate and House Minority Caucuses. It is a nonpartisan informational tool that makes the state budget information accessible to the public
Rally: Ask Obama to Shine Light on Corporate Corruption-Common Cause Hawaii partnered with Public Citizen to co-host a rally urging
President Obama to issue an Executive Order, requiring federal government contractors to disclose their political contributions to dark money groups. Held on the first anniversary of the McCutcheon U.S. Supreme Court ruling that further put our democracy up for sale, the rally was part of a nationwide effort in support of an executive order. Participants stamped money, distributed flyers, waved signs, and visited the offices of Congressman Mark Takai and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to encourage them to help “get money out of politics”.
Advocacy 201 Workshop: Conference Committees-This workshop aimed to help attendees understand the role of Conference Committees in the legislative process, and how to understand Conference Committee rules. The Conference Committee workshop was done in partnership with the Public Access Room, featuring guest presenter Virginia Beck, Public Access Room Coordinator.
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