Federal judge rejects challenge to Hawaii campaign finance legislation

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[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] on Friday rejected a challenge to one of the state’s campaign finance laws. In the case of Yamada et. al v. Kuramoto et. al., Judge Michael Seabright rejected challenges to two Hawaiian states laws [Honolulu Star Advertiser report] according to which political action committees must disclose the names of contributors and include disclaimers in advertisements. The hearing stemmed from a complaint [text, PDF] originally filed in August in which co-plaintiffs Jimmy Yamada and Russell Stewart challenged Hawaii’s $1000 limit on donations to political action committees. Both men were seeking to donate $2,500 to the Aloha Family Alliance Political Action Committee [official website]. On the basis of their lawsuit, Seabright found the donation limit unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [Cornell LII backgrounder], and approved an injunction [decision, PDF] on October 7 prohibiting the state from enforcing against them the $1,000 limit on donations while the state appeals. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] upheld [decision, PDF] this injunction on October 20.

Campaign finance has become a contentious issue recently, particularly after the Citizen’s United decision, which eased restrictions [JURIST report] on political and campaign spending by corporations and unions based on First Amendment grounds. Earlier this month, California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) [official website] issued a rule [JURIST report] that will require sponsors of “thinly veiled” political ads reveal their funding sources. In addition, the Disclose Act [materials], which prohibits corporations receiving federal contracts worth more than $7 million from spending money on “electioneering communications” and prohibits foreign-controlled domestic corporations from financing campaigns, was approved by the House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate [JURIST reports] in September.

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