Outside Money's Big Role In 2012 Hawaii Election

Flickr: Sue Peacock

Wednesday could be a seminal moment in Hawaii politics.

No, there are no major debates scheduled. Absentee mail voting has already been going on for a week. Monday is the first day of early walk-in voting at a handful of sites across the state. Election Day is still almost two weeks off. Candidate fundraising reports are due by midnight, but the last batch of those came out just a few weeks ago.

Wednesday's real significance is that it's the last day for noncandidate committees and corporations to file their fundraising and expenditure reports covering the first seven months of 2012. Those reports will offer the first glimpse into how much outside money is flowing into state and county races in the wake of a court ruling earlier this year that opened the floodgates for certain types of spending.

The filings to look for are those belonging to independent-expenditure-only committees. Only seven such groups had registered as of July 10, but they are the entities most directly unshackled by a federal court decision in March that allowed unlimited contributions and expenditures.

Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao told Civil Beat last week Hawaii's independent-expenditure-only groups are akin to a "super PAC on a national level."

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