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Roz Baker: Follow the Money

May 15, 2014
Ed Felien - Kihei , Maui Weekly

Sen. Roz Baker has $108,039.81 in cash on-hand according to her latest campaign report.

Who are the people that gave her that kind of money? And what do they want?

Some of her more recent contributions include:

$1,500 from George A Morris, representing Philip Morris, Marine Spill Response Corporation, Hawai'i Petroleum Marketers Association, Boyd Gaming Corporation, Securities Industry & Financial Market Association and Hawai'i Liquor Wholesalers Association; $1,500 from John Radcliffe of Monsanto; $1,200 from Mae H. Nakahata of HC&S; $1,000 from Mitchell A. Imanaka, representing developers since 1979; $1,000 from the Hawai'i Association of Realtors PAC; $1,000 from Walgreen Company; $1,000 from Pfizer Inc.; $1,000 from Dupont.

For the last two years, Sen. Baker, as chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, has refused to hold hearings on GMOs, even though that is clearly what her constituents want according to the 10,000 signatures just gathered calling for a referendum on GMO labeling. According to Honolulu Civil Beat, Baker got another $2,500 from Monsanto in 2012, and even if there were a hearing, Sen. Russell Ruderman isn't sure it would pass. "The problem is that Monsanto has a really strong influence on many legislators," he said.

The recent Supreme Court decision in MCCUTCHEON ET AL v FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION is considered by many another blow against fair elections and limiting the influence of big money. Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the majority, said it is still illegal for elected officials to exchange their votes for money, but he couches his qualification in a double negative: "Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder's official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption."

Can one conclude from this doubletalk that a quid pro quo does exist if the donor wishes "to control the exercise of an officeholder's official duties?" But doesn't every donor wish to control the decisions of an elected official? Isn't that the point of campaign contributions?

Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent, said, "Corruption breaks the constitutionally necessary 'chain of communication' between the people and their representatives. That is one reason why the court has stressed the constitutional importance of Congress' concern that a few large donations not drown out the voices of the many.

"That is also why the court has used the phrase 'subversion of the political process' to describe circumstances in which 'elected officials are influenced to act contrary to their obligations of office by the prospect of financial gain to themselves or infusions of money into their campaigns."



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