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Thursday, September 18, 2014
Hawaii Campaign Commission goes along with cover-up
By Selected News Articles @ 5:38 AM :: 3050 Views :: Ethics, Labor

Hawai'i Campaign Commission goes along with cover-up

by Karen from Maui, Daily KOS, September 16, 2014 (excerpts)

In a typically cozy Hawai'i fashion, the Hawai'i Campaign Commission has given the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund a pass on disclosing where its contributions come from.  According to state law noncandidate committees are required to disclose the source of their contributions and are not allowed any anonymous contributions

But the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund is apparently exempt from state law.  If you look at their disclosure of contributions, all the contributions come from...themselves.  How does a noncandidate committee fund itself?  Are they printing money?  Does it materialize out of thin air?

And why does this matter?  After all this must be funded by the Carpenters Union - a worthy organization, right?

Not so fast.  This organization is the sole funding for the superPAC, Forward Progress, which has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in local Hawaii county-level races trying to knock off certain candidates....

Who is really funding this effort?

The Hawaii Campaign Commission spokesperson says that the employers of the unionized carpenters are funding Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund.  In 2012 the Commission attorney talked with the Fund and they agreed that it would be just fine for them not to list the actual companies paying into this political action committee. When asked if this decision was in writing, both commission employees we spoke with said that it was not.

So here is the illuminating campaign contribution report:

Their board of directors is composed half from the The Hawaii Regional Board of Carpenters and the rest from General Contractors Labor Association and/or the Building Industry Labor Association. The latter two organizations are composed of construction related businesses - not union members. (See IRS filing below)

Their 2012 IRS return lists assets close to $11,000,000 and contributions (again - no actual sources given) of $2,632,931. The union contract provides for employer contributions to the Fund but how do we know those are the only contributions and how do we know who is contributing? 

We don't. 

No matter how far down the rabbit hole we search, we cannot find out what corporations are bankrolling Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund which in turn is the sole contributor to Forward Progress which is funding campaigns to defeat popular anti-corporate county council candidates. Getting confused yet?  Do you suppose that is intentional? ...

We called Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund and got a voice recording identifying the office as belonging to PRP (Pacific Resource Partnership).  They did not return our call for comment.

We reached out to the head of Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund, John White, asking him who is contributing to the Fund.  No reply.

Is this really how campaign disclosure is supposed to work?

Relevant sections of Hawai'i state law:

§11-351(c) Each candidate committee or noncandidate committee shall disclose the original source of all earmarked funds, the
ultimate recipient of the earmarked funds, and the fact that the funds are earmarked. [L 2010, c 211, pt of §2]

§11-353 Anonymous contributions prohibited.
(a) Except as provided in subsection (d), no person shall make an anonymous contribution to any candidate,
candidate committee, or noncandidate committee.

d) This section shall not apply to amounts that aggregate to less than $500 that are received from ten or more persons at the same political function. The receipt of
these contributions shall be disclosed in a report filed pursuant to sections 11-333 and 11-335. [L 2010, c 211, pt of §2]


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