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07.01.2008 0

Big Island Knows Best

  • On: 07/20/2008 16:47:30
  • In: First Amendment
  • In the land where palm trees sway, free speech is under assault, and at the end of the day, only the government may have the last word on campaign contributions.

    Hawaii’s State Legislature is moving forward with plans to implement public financing for Big Island County Council on a pilot basis:

    “The Big Island County Council volunteered to experiment with public financing of council elections starting in 2010, a breakthrough for activists [like Voter Owned Hawai’i] who have been urging the Legislature to move toward public financing for several years.

    “The state has a partial-public financing law but activists say it is not widely used because it does not provide enough money for candidates to run competitive campaigns. On the Big Island, under the pilot, council candidates would qualify for public financing if they collect signatures and $5 donations from 200 registered voters.

    “The House passed a bill last session to allow public financing for all county council campaigns but the bill did not advance in the Senate until this session, when it was narrowed to the Big Island.”

    However, the activists who support Big Government-financing of elections are opposing an amendment to the bill which would allow for corporate-financing of candidates via corporate political action committees (PAC’s):

    “A pilot program to publicly finance Big Island County Council elections could be in danger after the state Senate amended the proposal yesterday to also soften restrictions on corporate campaign contributions…

    “House and Senate leaders had tentatively agreed to clarify the campaign-finance law this session but the House backed out after criticism from activists who want to ban corporate contributions.

    “Many of the same activists also have worked toward the pilot program on public financing of elections and are disappointed and confused by the Senate’s maneuver. The Big Island County Council in January became the first elected body in the state to volunteer to try publicly financed campaigns, with enough money for candidates to run competitive campaigns without relying on private donations.”

    So, activists in favor of taxpayer-funded elections are also opposed to private campaign donations – from any source. They do not favor free speech, only government speech.

    This legislation – and the activist opposition to corporate-financing of PAC’s – dovetails from a Maui judge’s ruling which treated corporations just like individuals:

    “A Maui judge rejected the Campaign Spending Commission’s interpretation of the law last year and ruled that corporations, like individuals, can [as a matter of right] make donations directly to candidates without going through corporate PACs. The commission is appealing the ruling to the state Intermediate Court of Appeals.”

    In other words, because a right-thinking judge upheld the right to freedom of speech and overturned regulations which restricted corporations’ speech, the State legislature is now scrambling to put the government gag back on! And the activists, who want a complete ban on corporate donations for any political purposes, still aren’t satisfied.

    ALG Perspective:
    Campaign finance “reform” advocates in Hawaii, given an opportunity for publicly-financed elections and restrictions on corporate campaign donations, are still unsatisfied. They will not be happy unless only the government finances political campaigns, and thus controls political speech. If elected officials do not need to solicit private support in the form of donations, why should they listen to individual concerns? First, the Red Guard tells us how much individuals can donate to campaigns, next they want to eliminate individual donation to campaigns, and after that? They’ll want to limit what candidates can say in their taxpayer-funded elections. Campaign finance “reform” is nothing but a slippery slope towards abolishing the First Amendment.

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