According to the Christian bible, the love of money is the root of all evil – yet we force our politicians to dance with that very same devil every 2 or 4 years.
We ask our elected leaders to regulate business, profits, and money, yet we require them to bow down in supplication to these same entities in order to win their election to office.
And they do. State legislators regularly solicit campaign funds from businesses and individuals that have legislation pending before them. Governor Josh Green has proven to be a virtual money-making machine, raising millions from entities and industries that he is responsible for regulating. Similarly at the County level – money drives elections which put candidates into positions of influence and power.
Call it what you want, but our current electoral system has at its core a pay-to-play reality.
It does not have to be this way.
Publicly funded elections provide a path for candidates to win an election without selling out to big-money interests. Clean publicly funded elections are already being conducted in Connecticut, Maine, and a handful of other areas.
Hawai’i must join them.
The concept is simple. In “clean election states” that offer full public funding, candidates first qualify by raising a threshold quantity (from 50 for a small district to 6,250 for the governor’s race) of $5 individual donations to prove credibility. Once the candidate qualifies, their campaign is provided funding from the state sufficient to purchase the signs, brochures, and basic advertising needed to run a viable campaign. In return, the candidate agrees to accept no other private funding at all.
Over 70% of Maine Democratic candidates have rejected the acceptance of private money and use Clean Elections funding only to run their campaigns – totally severing the relationship between private donors and elected officials.
74% of votes say they prefer candidates who support publicly funded campaign election systems.
Clean Elections will allow candidates to fund campaigns without the need for private donors.
The barrier of entry for new candidates will be lower and campaigns will become more competitive resulting in greater diversity.
Regular local residents will have more influence since they’re the reason candidates are funded – not special interests.
With legislators no longer beholden to private donors they will be free to pass bills that big money opposes without fear of campaign funds drying up.
With full public funding, Hawai’i can transform its elections to be accessible for all and remove to a great extent the monied influence that’s been embedded in campaigns throughout its history.
The investment needed to implement a full public funding program for all State and County elections in Hawaii, similar to Maine and Connecticut would be less than $25 million per year – a tiny sliver of the waste, fraud, and abuse now occurring. Whether paid for by general funds, a tax on Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), a cannabis tax, or via a myriad of other means, an investment in clean elections is well worth the money.
The cost to do nothing and retain the status quo, means more cash stuffed into envelopes, more pay-to-play, more over-budget rail systems to no-where, more stadium entertainment districts, and less affordable housing, more corporate water theft, and more people living under bridges while the fat cats get even fatter.
Please be part of the solution. Call or email your legislator today and encourage, urge, and demand their support of a clean elections bill for Hawaii. While no specific bill will be introduced until after opening day at the legislature on January 18th, it’s important to let all members of the House and Senate know now – that clean publicly funded elections are your priority and must be theirs as well.
*Contact information for your Senator and Representative can be found at Find Your Legislator. Trust me. Once they know you live in their district and that you vote, they will listen. They may or may not do the right thing, but they will listen. If you fail to share your thoughts they will not know that this issue is important to you, so PLEASE contact your district legislator.
Contact info for every State Senator is here:
Contact info for every State Representative is here: