Officers and directors of the Sand Island Business Association contributed over $225,000 to a variety of political candidates and elected officials between 2006 and 2012, according to data from reports filed with the Campaign Spending Commission. The contributions came as they were trying to generate political pressure to force the Department of Land and Natural Resources to agree to a deal giving them fee-simple title to the 70 state-owned acres that make up the Sand Island Industrial Park.
It looks a lot like the same “make friends and rent influence” tactic SIBA used 25 years ago when it lobbied to obtain control of the property through a master lease and major financial concessions from the state, although at that time their actions were more flagrant and contributions more concentrated on key officials.
My weekly “Hawaii Monitor” column in Civil Beat last week highlighted the group’s latest lobbying effort, again aimed at securing the fee simple title (“Business Group Presses For Sand Island Land Swap“).
SIBA provides a good example of money and politics, but when I wrote that column last week, I hadn’t yet had a chance to check SIBA’s recent campaign activities. I finally got around to it over the weekend.
I started with a list of SIBA officers and directors from the state’s online business registration records.
KINOSHITA, ROBERT N
KANESHIRO, CLYDE T
ARAKAKI, WALTER Y
NOHARA, GLENN M
TEVES, NICHOLAS W JR
BORJA, JUAN S JR
MUDD, RITCHIE N
I then jumped over to data.hawaii.gov, the state’s new data portal, data.hawaii.gov, which includes a searchable database of “Campaign Contributions Received By Hawaii State and County Candidates From November 8, 2006 Through December 31, 2012.”
Then it was just a bit of copying and pasting to search for contributions by each director and then combine them, finally ending up with these totals.
In addition, members of the SIBA board gave $15,000 to the Democratic Party of Hawaii during the 2012 election, and one director gave $17,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. And they combined to donate over $45,000 to federal campaigns of Hawaii candidates for Congress and U.S. Senate, both Republicans and Democrats.
I doubt these totals are complete, since I didn’t go the next step to track contributions made directly by the businesses owned by SIBA directors.
As far as I can see, there’s nothing illegal in this show of political influence or the attempt to pass narrow, special interest legislation. But heeding the axiom, “Follow the money,” would in this case be a good idea.