Category Archives: Campaigns

Souki backs Caldwell for Honolulu Mayor

Here’s an interesting fundraiser invite. It looks like a fundraiser for House Speak Joe Souki, but it’s really just an attempt to use Souki’s endorsement, and his political clout, to add to Caldwell’s campaign war chest.

Souki was being referred to as the “host” for this event, which was held last night.


It’s interesting to note that it would be illegal for Souki’s campaign to direct use any of its campaign funds to support Caldwell. But apparently raising funds for another candidate is okay.

Here’s the relevant section of the campaign law:

§11-382 Prohibited uses of campaign funds. Campaign funds shall not be
(1) To support the campaigns of candidates other than the candidate with which they are directly associated;

But an endorsement and hosting arrangement like this appears to be outside of the prohibition.

I did check the fundraiser notices, and it is registered as a Caldwell fundraiser, with a suggested price of $500 to $1,000 per person.

The notice was filed at 10:16 a.m. on the day of the fundraiser, according to the timestamped copy posted online.

Which raises a question–if the intent of the law is to provide a public notice of a fundraising event, its location, person in charge, etc., then why aren’t they required to be posted well in advance of the event itself?

For example, why not require filing within five days of the time the first notices are sent out? The current deadline, which is no later than the start of the event or the closing time of the Campaign Spending Commission office, is for all practical purposes a retroactive disclosure, as it seems that most notices are filed less than 24 hours in advance.

Reporting catches up with The Donald

Reporting is finally catching up with Donald Trump.

It’s taken a while to do the digging into his long paper trail, but the results are most interesting.

The New York Times dropped a blockbuster today (“How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions“).

It details how Trump loaded up his Atlantic City casinos with mountains of debt that doomed them to financial collapse, while in the process shoveling millions to himself. Lots of those involved–Trump’s investors, bondholders, vendors, contractors, employees–they lost money, while Trumped brags about how well he did there. summarized with “10 Takeaways From NYT’s Blockbuster Report On Donald Trump’s Atlantic City Casinos.”

The Washington Post presented their own reporting on the same bit of wheeling and dealing (“As its stock collapsed, Trump’s firm gave him huge bonuses and paid for his jet“).

USA Today also weighed in with a slightly different set of facts (“Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills“).

Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans…who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

The Atlantic chimed in with their own road map to a laundry list of past controversies (“The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet“).

As you can see, it’s a great week for reading!

Convention sticker shock

There’s a lot of excitement for Hawaii Democrats selected to attend the national Democratic Convention in Philadelphia as part of the island delegation. But there’s also been a bit of sticker shock.

Last week, Bart Dame, who has been at the center of the local Bernie Sanders campaign, took to the crowd funding site to raise money for his travel costs.

The combined costs of our hotel rooms, transportation costs and airfare have been conservatively estimated at $2500 apiece.

Then, in the last couple of days, he added this update.

I have been advised by the national campaign that my estimate of the costs of attending the convention are too low. Other Hawaii Bernie delegate GoFundMe campaigns trusted my $2500 estimate and now need to raise the goal to $4000!

So I am sheepishly doing the same. Ulp.

As of this morning, Bart had raised $748 of his $4,000 goal.

Bobbi Halpin, another Sanders supporter, will be a nonvoting delegate and a member of the convention’s Credentials Committee.

So far, she’s raised just $267 of her $3,500 target.

Big Island resident Raina Whiting, a teacher, full-time graduate student, and a pledged Bernie delegate, has raised $572 of her $2,500 goal.

Josh Frost has raised $533 of his $3,000 goal.

Chelsea Lyons Kent is credited with organizing the first Bernie Sanders grassroots campaign meeting on Oahu, stayed with the campaign throughout, and is now heading for Philadelphia. So far, she’s raised $702 of a $4,000 goal.

There may be others out there raising money to make the trip to the Philadelphia convention. But here are links to the GoFundMe campaigns that I’ve found so far. If you are in a position to contribute, hopefully these links will work. And if you know of others also seeking to raise funds to get to the convention, let me know and I’ll add them to this list.

Bart Dame
Josh Frost
Bobbi Halpin
Chelsea Lyons Kent
Raina Whiting

Here are several more Sanders delegates with links.

Kehau Cortez-Camero
Ken Farm
Netra Halperin

Christina Kaleiwahea
Asami Kobayashi

John Miller

If anyone has a list of the Clinton delegates seeking funding, I would be glad to list them here as well.

I’ve heard some of the Hawaii delegates will be staying out in Valley Forge, apparently a 40 minute drive from Philadelphia, maybe more to the convention site. Other delegates may face extra costs to stay closer to the convention.

The convention is scheduled for July 25-28. Average daily high temperature in Philadelphia at that time of year is about 88 degrees, with humidity providing a “real feel” of 93. A hot time is expected, in many ways.

Nate Silver on the high number of undecided voters

It’s always useful and interesting to see what Nate Silver and are saying about the election odds. For example, check out this transcript posted yesterday (“Of Course Trump Can Win,
But Clinton’s the favorite. Here’s what we make of the polls at this stage

It turns out that making sense of the polling at this point in time isn’t straightforward.

One problem–an unusually high number of undecided voters in many states.

harry: For one thing, it shows that we can’t be sure how the map will look. That is, the swing states in 2016 may not be the same as they were in 2012. We have a completely new pair of candidates (i.e., there’s no incumbent president running for re-election). Also, a lot of these states have only one or two polls, so we don’t have a lot of data.

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): I’m not ready to accept yet that we’ll have a whole new map this time around. There will probably be some differences, yes. But my prior is that we’ll still have mostly the same swing states as last time, and I haven’t seen persuasive enough evidence yet to convince me otherwise. Here’s why: These polls are showing huge, enormous numbers of undecided voters. In that Monmouth poll of New Jersey, for instance, it’s Clinton 38 percent and Trump 34 percent, leaving 28 percent undecided, voting third party or saying they’ll sit out the general election. The Monmouth poll is a bit of an extreme case, but there are plenty of polls that are like, Clinton 43 percent, Trump 41 percent, undecided/other 16 percent, which is still a huge number.

micah: Is that unusual?

natesilver: It’s unusual, yes. By comparison, in 2012, we were seeing numbers more like Obama 47 percent, Romney 45 percent at a comparable point in the campaign.

Silver suggests that Trump got a bounce in the polls after the other GOP candidates dropped out of the race. He expects that Clinton is likely to get a comparable boost when her extended primary battle with Bernie Sanders is over.

Anyway, it’s an interesting set of observations on the election polls. Check it out.

Hawaii Democrats elect progressive party chair

The Star-Advertiser’s Kevin Dayton provided the best wrap-up of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s state convention, held in Waikiki over the weekend (“Isle Democrats rally for unity, pick new leader“).

The election of the party’s state chair was one of the key battlegrounds.

For the first time that I can remember, one of the candidates ran an email campaign soliciting support. I received several campaign emails this month from Jacce Mikulanec, a longtime activist in local Democratic circles. Mikulanec has served as president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League and is registered as president of the Equality Hawaii Action Fund, a political action committee supporting “candidates who support equality for Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.”

It seemed to me that Jacce had a real shot at winning this election.

Also running were Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, executive director of the Hawaii Construction Alliance, and Florence Kong Kee, a UPW lobbyist and another longtime party activist and insider.

But in the end, the prize went to Tim Vandeveer, an environmental activist who ran with the backing of supporters of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

A quick online search turned up additional background on Vandeveer, who originally hailed from Texas. He’s been host of Hawaii Public Radio’s “Full Nelson.”

“I was raised on Willie’s music,” he explains in an HPR blurb about the program.

He worked for several years at the Turtle Bay resort on Oahu’s north shore.

A 2008 Honolulu Weekly story noted that Vandeveer “led Turtle Bay horseback tours for five years and was named Kuilima’s Employee of the Year in 2004.”

He was one of the hotel employees who opposed a massive expansion and became active in the Defend Oahu Coalition. He’s currently a co-chair of the group, according to its website, and president of the Defend Oahu Coalition Fund.

And Vandeveer was the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against American Savings Bank, which alleged the bank (owned by Hawaiian Electric Industries, parent company of HECO) processed debit card transactions in a way that maximized overdraft fees. The lawsuit was eventually settled last hear for $2 million, according to a story in Pacific Business News.

Vandeveer said he is going to put a priority on ending the Democratic Party’s reliance on corporate and special interest funding, which he termed “fundamentally wrong.”

Of course, the party in Hawaii has never been financially flush, so it’s going to be interesting to see whether Vandeveer can actually motivate individual members to contribute to the party, rather than directly to candidates.

I agree with comments by former Gov. John Waihee, quoted in Dayton’s story.

“I appreciate his ambition, I wish him well, but … ultimately, the party’s primary duty is to get people elected, so we’ll see how that agenda plays into that scenario,” Waihee said. “It’s a complex thing, because at the same time you need to raise money.”

Waihee said he hopes a Democratic president will be elected who will appoint Supreme Court justices who will help overturn the Citizens United ruling.

“That’s really what ultimately the big picture is about,” he said.