East Hawaii News

Federal Court Upholds Campaign Funding Transparency Laws

May 21, 2015, 1:10 PM HST
* Updated May 21, 1:47 PM
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The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hawai‘i campaign finance laws on May 21 allowing public access to campaign funding to determine who is attempting to influence their vote.

The ruling came after a political action committee challenged the laws that require transparency for all political action committees (PAC) spending over $1,000 to influence a state election.

Kristin Izumi-Nitao, state Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director, said that without these laws in place, the public would have no way to determine what interests were funding PACs.

“This ruling underscores the importance of encouraging transparency in political campaigns and guarding against corruption,” Izumi-Nitao said.

The federal court also upheld a Hawai‘i law that prohibits government contractors from giving funds to candidates for the legislature.

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“Campaign finance laws exist to inform the public and protect the democratic process,” said Attorney General Doug Chin. “The Ninth Circuit’s ruling reaffirms these values and I am very pleased with the result.”

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The court heard arguments in 2013 for the case, called Yamada v. Snipes, which was filed in district court in 2010.  The majority of the challenged laws were upheld in previous proceedings, which ended in 2012 and were then appealed.

Statements on campaign finances from all state candidates and political action committees are available for free at the Campaign Commission’s website.

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