Were big money PACs successful in Hawai'i?

How effective were  PACs in Hawai’i races?  Here’s the run down.

Highest funded PAC in Hawai’i history at $7.9 million dollars: Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban (a front group for mega-corporations Monsanto and Dow) spent $362 for each “no” vote they got, and lost.  The GMO Moratorium Initiative in Maui County passed 50% to 48%.  Monsanto and Dow aren’t giving up, though.  They announced they are suing to stop implementation of the initiative.

American Comeback Campaign (Republican Governors) spent $1,799,662 against David Ige and lost.  David Ige beat Repubican Aiona by 49% to 37%.  12 points.

The Democratc Governors got in the act with Hawaii Forward  and spent  $1,459,908 against Duke Aiona.  They won which is to be expected in a predominantly Democratic state.

Forward Progress (funded by the construction industry and developers) spent  a million dollars mostly on county council races on Maui and Big Island trying to unseat councilmembers who got in their way with pesky zoning laws and developement regulations.  Here’s a rundown on the races they poured money into with mixed results – losing one more than they won.

Maile David won.
Brandon Elefante won.
Mike White won.  (He was trailing Mike Molina in the primary prior to Forward Progress’ mailers)
Ka’ala Buenconsejo lost.
Joe Ponantilla lost.
Ron Gonzales lost.
Tiffany Edwards-Hunt lost.

Maui Timeshare Ohana Political Action Committee got into the Maui election, piling on in excess of  half a million dollars for some of the same candidates as Forward Progress on Maui: Buenconsejo lost, White won and Pontanilla lost.  Batting .33 – good in baseball but not so good for a high-spending PAC.

National Association of Realtors Fund  spent $2 million supporting what looks like the guaranteed winners and mostly power centers in the Lege.  Their only loss was Malama Soloman who Sierra Club targeted as their priority to eliminate this election – as they successfully targeted Pono Chong and Mufi Hannemann for anti-environmental positions in previous elections.  We suspect the Realtors were trying to buy access to the more powerful players in the Lege who were slated to win, rather than trying to influence the election.  Oops! They should have checked whether they were backing someone the Sierra Club had in their sights first!

Roz Baker won
James Tokioka won
Henry Aquino won
Gil Keith-Agaran won
Jill Tokuda won
Joe Souki won
Scott Saiki won
Sylvia Luke won
Malama Solomon lost

Local Food Coalition primarily funded by venture capitalist Ulupono Initiative spent half a million dollars successfully convincing people to pass Con Amend #2 which removed the requirement that land owners put their parcel into Important Ag Lands prior to being eligible to get a state bond issue for their operation.  Oh goody!  Now developers like A&B can get state-backed bonds for “ag” infrastructure and turn around and develop the land.

When Bart Dame indicated his doubts about this change, Gov-elect Ige (who felt it would help the smaller farmers) said people have to work with others to make sure the implementing legislation is designed to help the little guys instead of the big firms.

I suspect Brandon Lee of Ulupono Inititative might disagree since it is unlikely that a small farmer hui who can’t get a bank loan would successfully  get a bond issue.  Ulupono is the creation of E-Bay billionaire Pierra Omidyar and is a venture capital company.

That’s the run-down on PACs who spent half a million dollars or more.  Looks like they nudged the results but were not entirely successful – especially once it was made clear to voters how much money they were spending.

This points out the importance of the Campaign Spending Commission and making sure that we get both a reporting date prior to absentee voting and another one a few days prior to the election date.  While the legislature is tweaking dates, perhaps they can invalidate rule 06-01 which allows the multi-million dollar noncandidate committee Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund  (a slush fund for the construction corporations and developers) to get away with not disclosing it’s donors.  HCMRPF was the sole donor to Forward Progress.

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