Which Candidates have taken the People’s Pledge?

A pledge to denounce outside groups’ political ads

(Honolulu, HI) — In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizen’s United vs. the FEC opened the floodgates of campaign spending by special interest groups to influence elections. As the 2014 general election approaches full swing, Hawaii citizens can once again expect to see these outside groups spending huge sums to support their favored candidate and/or to denigrate their opponents via misleading ads. 

The campaigning has already begun with the newly released TV ad placed by the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The ad criticizes gubernatorial candidate David Ige, while boosting his opponent Duke Aiona. The D.C.-based Republican Governor’s Association has contributed $6,000 to Aiona’s campaign, the maximum allowed by law, and another $25,000 to the Hawaii Republican Party. In addition, it can legally spend unlimited money on ads not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign committee.

As a way to deter these campaign ads placed by outside groups, the Hawaii chapters of Common Cause and Public Citizen are asking major candidates in the races for U.S. Senate and U.S. House to take the People’s Pledge.

The People’s Pledge is modeled after one negotiated by 2012 Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren (D) and Scott Brown (R). By taking the People’s Pledge, candidates agree to make charitable donations from their campaign funds equal to half of any money spent for advertising on their behalf, or against an opponent, by “independent” outside groups. Their donation would be made to a charity chosen by the opposing candidate.

By agreeing on a People’s Pledge, candidates can focus on issues, not vicious ads that might distort a candidate’s positions or leave candidates beholden to secret, wealthy donors and special interests.

Over the past two weeks, we have contacted the major candidates in the congressional races to ask that they agree to work with their opponents to tailor the pledge to their own specifications. We will be publicizing candidates’ responses.  So far, only Charles Djou, Republican candidate for U.S House District 1, has met with us and has expressed interest in negotiating a pledge with his opponent. The staff of Brian Schatz, candidate for U.S. Senate seemed receptive and is considering the Pledge. We have not had responses from Mark Takai (U.S. House) or Cam Cavasso (U.S. Senate).

The public is encouraged to assist with flagging any campaign ads placed by outside groups. Reports of these radio, TV, newspaper and online ads can be reported on the Common Cause Hawaii website: hi.commoncause.org.  Common Cause Hawaii will list these reported “independent” campaign ads on their website.

A recent poll of likely November 2014 voters finds that 68% of voters responded favorably to the Pledge (37% very favorably), as a new way for candidates to limit outside spending in elections. This support is strong across party lines, with 70% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans, and 69% of Independents in favor of it.

For more information on the People’s Pledge, visit peoplespledge2014.org or http://www.commoncause.org/issues/money-in-politics/the-peoples-pledge/the-peoples-pledge.html