Jul 13, 2010

Hawaii to Test Public Money for an Election


Politics

June 26, 2010

Advocates for publicly financed elections say the approach helps remove the corrupting influence of money from political campaigns.


Money for the program comes from the $4.5 million Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, which is financed by taxpayers who check a box on their income tax forms to donate $3.

Category: General
Posted by: editor

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is moving forward with a test run of publicly financed political campaigns this year, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling against a similar setup in Arizona.


Hawaii’s experiment starts with this fall’s Hawaii County Council election. Sixteen candidates applied to participate in the program before last Monday’s deadline, according to the Campaign Spending Commission.


The Supreme Court decision, issued on June 8, does not apply to states other than Arizona. But it could lead to legal challenges of public financing in states like Connecticut, Hawaii and Maine.


Advocates for publicly financed elections say the approach helps remove the corrupting influence of money from political campaigns.


Money for the program comes from the $4.5 million Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, which is financed by taxpayers who check a box on their income tax forms to donate $3.
Candidates seeking public money must submit a petition with 200 signatures and 200 donations of $5 each.


In exchange, they are granted money based on a formula that averages the amount spent by winning district candidates in the previous two election years, minus 10 percent.
Candidates are not allowed to accept any outside money.


“We’re excited people on the Big Island will have a chance to interact with candidates who aren’t just trying to raise money,” said Kory Payne, executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii, which pushed for the law.


Of those using taxpayer money for their campaigns this year, six are incumbents seeking re-election to the nine-member Hawaii County Council.
Public financing could spread to more county or statewide elections, depending on the success of the trial.


Any expansion would require more money, because the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund is shrinking and Campaign Spending Commission employees are working long hours and on furlough days without additional pay, said Barbara Wong, executive director of the commission.


A version of this article appeared in print on June 27, 2010, on page A21 of the New York edition.