Wednesday, January 10, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Candidate endorsements under fire

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

It’s against the law for candidates to give photos of themselves — paid for with campaign money — to support another candidate, according to an advisory opinion approved by the state Campaign Spending Commission yesterday.

The opinion said while the endorsement of a fellow candidate in itself is allowable under the law, the transfer of "anything of value" will be considered a violation. Candidates giving a fellow candidate an official campaign photo for a brochure, T-shirts or campaign signs — all paid for with their own campaign funds — are transferring something of value, the opinion said.

Commission Executive Director Bob Watada said "the law is the law" and that the commission will be enforcing it with warnings. He used the analogy of a police officer who catches someone driving 31 mph in a 30 mph zone.

"What policeman is going to give you a ticket?" Watada said. "It’s the same kind of situation for us. Generally when we see minor infractions of that nature we simply remind the candidate of the law."

Watada said candidates can easily rectify the campaign photo situation by having their fellow candidate pay for the photo.

Richard Clifton, general counsel for the Hawaii Republican Party, said the opinion "establishes a standard that couldn’t possibly be enforced." He said candidates may have a real interest in using an official campaign photo because it affects how they are portrayed.

The opinion was issued in response to candidates’ questions about the parameters of candidate endorsements.

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