I love following the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission (CSC)’s Twitter account (it’s @hicsc). They don’t tweet all the time, but when they do it’s usually to announce the existence of new campaign reports or candidate fundraiser notices. And sometimes, they’ll post a document that shows a local public official messed up.
Such was the case on Wednesday, Apr. 5, when the CSC posted a tweet saying that “Representative Justin Woodson [D–Kahului] files Notice for 3/21/17 fundraiser.” Now I’ve seen fundraiser notices–which are supposed to be filed with the CSC before the actual fundraiser–posted after the fact. And this particular fundraiser was sadly typical of Maui legislators: though Woodson’s district is limited to Kahului, his fundraiser took place at Mandalay Restaurant in Honolulu (undoubtedly to be closer to all the lobbyists gathered for the Hawaii legislative session, which is going on right now).
But Woodson’s fundraiser notice had an additional surprise: the date at the bottom next to Woodson’s signature was April 4, 2017–meaning that Woodson’ didn’t send it to the CSC until two full weeks after the fundraiser.
Legally, a candidate or official can file these notices with the CSC right up to the day of the actual fundraiser (which meets the letter of the law but grossly violates the spirit of the law, but whatever). Ironically, that’s what Rep. Kaniela Ing, D–South Maui, did. In fact, Ing held his own fundraiser at the same location and on the same date as Woodson, but he filed his Notice of Intent on March 21.
Needless to say, the CSC wasn’t pleased. “We understand that your committee held a fundraiser on March 21, 2017 for which the price or suggested contribution for attending the event was more than $25 per person,” stated an April 5, 2017 letter from CSC Executive Director Kristin E. Izumi-Nitao to Woodson. “Pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) §11-342, a “Notice of Intent to Hold a Fundraiser” form should have been filed with the Commission prior to the fundraiser. We understand that this form was filed after the fundraiser.”
That being said, the CSC only fined Woodson a mere $25. A CSC official also told me that they haven’t yet received a reply from Woodson. This didn’t surprise me, because Woodson also didn’t reply to my email asking for comment.
Photo courtesy Rep. Woodson