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Oral Arguments before the Intermediate Court of Appeals

NO. 28729 – Wednesday, June 17, 2009 – 10 a.m..

CHARMAINE TAVARES CAMPAIGN, a Candidate Committee organized under (and as defined by) the Hawai’i Election Campaign Contributions And Expenditures Act, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. BARBARA U. WONG, in her capacity as the Executive Director of the Campaign Spending Commission of the State of Hawai`i, Defendant-Appellant, QUONG ENTERPRISES, L.L.C., a California limited liability company, Plaintiff/Intervenor-Appellee, vs. BARBARA U. WONG, in her capacity as the Executive Director of the Campaign Spending Commission of the State of Hawai`i, Defendant-Appellant.

Attorney(s) for Defendant-Appellant
Honorable Mark J. Bennett, Attorney General, and Russell A. Suzuki and Robyn B. Chun, Deputies Attorney General

Attorney(s) for Plaintiff-Appellee and Plaintiff/Intervenor-Appellee
William F. Crockett (Crockett and Nakamura)

SPECIAL NOTE: The above argument will take place in the Supreme Court courtroom on the Second Floor of Ali`iolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawai`i.

COURT: Foley, Fujise and Leonard, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief description:

Barbara U. Wong (Wong), in her capacity as Executive Director for the Campaign Spending Commission seeks reversal of the Second Circuit Court’s declaratory judgment that corporations are permitted to make direct contributions to a candidate or that candidate’s committee, up to the limits specified in HRS § 11-204(a)(1)(c) (Supp. 2005).

Plaintiff-Appellee Charmaine Tavares Campaign (Tavares) received a $2,000 campaign contribution from Plaintiff/Intervenor-Appellee Quong Enterprises, L.L.C. (Quong). Wong informed Quong and two other corporations that they had violated HRS § 11-204(b), by making monetary contributions in excess of $1,000. Tavares sought declaratory and other relief and Quong intervened, both alleging that Wong incorrectly interpreted HRS § 11-204. The Second Circuit Court concluded that the language of HRS § 11-204(a)(1)(c) is plain and clear, permitting Quong and the other contributors to make direct contributions to Tavares not exceeding an aggregate amount of $4,000. On appeal, Wong argues, inter alia, that the Second Circuit Court failed to recognize the ambiguities in HRS § 11-204 and that the court’s ruling defeats the purposes of the campaign spending law to provide transparency in the flow of corporate contributions and require accountability on the part of contributors and candidates. In addition to the Answering Brief filed by Tavares and Quong, the Attorney General of the State of Hawai?i filed an Amicus Curiae Brief highlighting the constitutional implications of this case and arguing that the Second Circuit Court’s judgment should be affirmed.