Category Archives: Campaigns

Candidate disclosures offer rare glimpse at finances

Here’s a pot of data that often gets overlooked.

I’m talking about the financial disclosures filed by candidates for state offices, including House, Senate, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

These aren’t as useful for those incumbents running for reelection, since their regular annual disclosures include more information.

However, the candidate disclosures are very useful for learning more about the challengers, a list which usually includes at least a few people of interest because of their roles in community groups, business, or public affairs.

In many cases, the candidate disclosure provide the only public accounting of their financial interests and business ties.

Okay, that may sound a lot like snooping. But to a reporter, or a citizen activist, information can be powerful, whether immediately or sometime in the future.

The disclosure process is administered by the State Ethics Commission, which recently published a list of candidates who have filed this year. It’s a good place to start.

Browse the list, and if you see a name of interest to you, then check the candidate disclosure database, click on the link for the person’s form, and check it out. You can save the form as a pdf for future reference.

HBO movie goes “All the way”

Political junkies take note.

If you subscribe to HBO in any form, or can beg or borrow access from a friend, be sure to watch the HBO movie, “All the way.”

It’s a movie adaptation of Seattle playwright Robert Schenkkan’s stage play which follows Lyndon Baines Johnson through the intense period from the beginning of his presidency in November 1963 through the 1964 election, where “All the way with LBJ” was the Democratic candidate’s campaign theme.

Count me on the side of critics who called Bryan Cranston’s depiction of LBJ “mesmerizing.”

We stumbled on the movie by accident a few nights ago while looking for something to watch, and were unaware of all the press attention it received following its debut earlier this year.

If you lived through those years back in the 1960s, it’s powerful and disturbing. If you’re way too young for that, it’s a pretty close-to-real-life look behind the scenes of hardball politics.

“Politics is war by other means,” LBJ muses at one point. Then he quickly circles back. “Politics is war.” Period.

I’ve read several of the books about LBJ, including a couple of valumes of Robert Caro’s intimate portrait of the man and his career, and collections of the secret White House tapes compiled by historian Michael Beschloss. I thought “All the way” captured much of what’s there in the historical record, and made it very human.

Johnson was being hit by competing political forces on all sides, the growing civil rights movement, the overt racism of the formerly solid Democratic South, a conservative challenge by GOP candidate Barry Goldwater, a deteriorating political and situation in Southeast Asia. We watch as he alternatively cajoles, bluffs, arm twists, horse trades, and outright bullies those who stand in his way, resorting to temper tantrums where necessary.

And there were great performances by those playing the other characters, from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey and Georgia’s Richard Russell.

Good entertainment and engrossing history at the same time.

Polls show shift back towards Clinton

Yesterday was full of news about the substantial “bounce” Hillary Clinton got in the polls following last week’s Democratic National Convention.

Of course, her “bounce” benefited from the Donald’s shooting himself in the foot, repeatedly, and without remorse.

This graph from Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com tells the story of the Clinton bounce.

From Nate Silver

I searched Google News for stories on the latest presidential poll results. I imagine these results will be updated by the time readers check out this link.

No doubt this is still a close election. But I’m breathing slightly easier.

And there’s a funny thing. One old friend who I keep in touch with via Facebook appears to be a Trump supporter. And others may be flirting with Trump as well. But I’m not severing contacts with them over this difference, despite the seriousness with which I view the dangers of a potential Trump presidency.

We can argue over our differences, but we still have so much in common. I’m not willing to terminate friendships over such differences, especially when we’re only able to argue indirectly and at a distance.

Perhaps I’m just too much of a softie.

Few contributions to OHA candidates

Browsing through election info…

There are 14 candidates vying to be elected trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs this year.

2016 candidates

But only three report taking any campaign contributions since the beginning of 2015, according to data published by the Campaign Spending Commission. Click on the table below for a closer look.

Jan 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016

For the most part, then, it appears that OHA elections are primarily local affairs, with few contributions of more than $100, which triggers disclosure. In the absence of significant campaign funds, name recognition, free social media, and support among the Hawaiian community are left as the primary way of soliciting votes. More traditional modern campaigning appears to be minimal, and confined to a few candidates, at least if access to campaign funds is used as a measure.

Top donors to state and local candidates so far this year

Fiddling with the data filed with the Campaign Spending Commission, I did a quick-and-dirty listing of the top 30 individual campaign contributors to state and local candidates during the period of January 1 to June 30, 2016.

In the top spot is part-time Maui resident Jeffrey Bronfman, an investor and consulted, who contributed $2,000 each to several county council and state House candidates.

Four of the top ten contributors are associated with Capitol Consultants of Hawaii, the state’s top lobbyist firm, who combined to give nearly $60,000 to candidates during the six month period.

The rest are a cross-section of business and development interests.

The totals are probably conservative, as in most cases they don’t include contributions from spouses or dependents, and also do not include contributions from associated businesses or individuals.

But despite the shortcomings, it’s an interesting window in the world of big money contributions.

Campaign Contributors