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Federal judge rejects challenge to Hawaii campaign finance legislation

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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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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