Several County Council candidates have indicated their intent to take advantage of the Public Funding option, which provides public money to finance their County Council campaigns in the primary election.
Right now, Hawaii County is still part of a pilot project that allows candidates to have their campaigns funded by the State.
The state website lists seven candidates who have applied for public funding as of January 23 : District 4 (Puna) candidates James Weatherford and Gregorr Ilagan, District 6 (Ka’u/South Kona) candidates Maile David, Brenda Ford and Harry McIntosh, District 8 (North Kona) candidate Karen Eoff, and District 9 (Waimea/Kohala) candidate Margaret Wille.
To qualify, candidates must collect $1,000 in $5 personal checks and verified signatures from 200 registered voters within their districts. They also must agree not to take campaign contributions from other sources. Candidates may also collect up to $3,000 in seed money in advance of declaring their intent to seek public funding; those funds must be collected and a report filed no later than January 31.
The State Legislature agreed to the pilot program in 2008, which takes a maximum of $300,000 from the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund and distributes it on a first-come, first-served basis to Hawaii County Council candidates. The funds are donated by state taxpayers when they check the box on their tax forms to donate $3 to the fund. In the 2010 election cycle, 16 Hawaii County Council candidates applied for the funding. The intent of the program is to allow candidates to seek office even without a strong financial backing, and to remove what some have called “the corrupting influence of money” from political campaigns.
The amount of money available to a candidate is based on a formula that averages the amount spent by winning district candidates in the last two election years, minus 10 percent. Because of that, there’s quite a difference among the districts as to how much money might be available—for the primary election cycle, it ranges from just over $41,000 for District 6 candidates to just over $1,200 for District 1. Because the County Council races are non partisan, the races can be decided in the primary election. Public funding will also be made available for the general election.
Full information about the Hawaii County Council Comprehensive Public Funding Program is online, at the State of Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission web site, http://hawaii.gov/campaign/comprehensive/comprehensive-public-funding. The home page of the Campaign Spending Commission also includes all the information about donating to political campaigns. As the Hawaii County Council program is a pilot, the public funding rules are different from the other races.
The web site also includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions, one of the most interesting of which is:
Question: May a certified candidate, in pursuit of his election, pass out bananas on a street corner?
Response: Yes, a certified candidate may pass out a banana to a passer-by if the candidate purchases the bananas with campaign funds. The candidate cannot donate the bananas to his campaign and he cannot accept a non-monetary contribution of bananas.