AG NEWS RELEASE: Federal Ninth Circuit Court Upholds Hawaiʻi State Laws Mandating Transparency in Political Campaigns

Posted on May 20, 2015 in Latest News, Newsroom, Press Releases

HONOLULU – Today the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hawaiʻi campaign finance laws allowing the public to “follow the money” and determine who is attempting to influence their vote.

A political action committee had challenged the constitutionality of Hawaiʻi’s campaign finance laws, including transparency provisions applying to all political action committees that spend over $1000.00 to influence a state election.

“Without these laws, it would be impossible for the public to determine what interests are funding political action committees, including the big-money SuperPACs,” said state Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao.  “This ruling underscores the importance of encouraging transparency in political campaigns and guarding against corruption.”

The federal appeals court also upheld Hawaiʻi law banning government contractors from contributing to candidates for legislative office.

“Campaign finance laws exist to inform the public and protect the democratic process,” said Attorney General Doug Chin.  “The Ninth Circuit’s ruling reaffirms these values and I am very pleased with the result.”

The case, called Yamada v. Snipes, was filed in the federal district court in 2010.  Most of the challenged laws were upheld in proceedings before that court, which ended in 2012, and plaintiffs appealed. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in October 2013.

Campaign finance disclosure statements from all state candidates and political actions committees are available for free on the Campaign Spending Commission’s website,

The Ninth Circuit’s opinion is attached.
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For more information, contact:

James Walther
Deputy Attorney General
(808) 586-1284