Brian Schatz may have a 2-to-1 advantage over Colleen Hanabusa in campaign fundraising, but both candidates have received significant contributions from well-connected local folks.

Schatz, the appointed U.S. senator, and Hanabusa, the U.S. representative who wants his job, also attract plenty of money from mainland donors and political action committees. As a sitting senator, Schatz attracts larger amounts of mainland money, which seems natural given his overall advantage, but Hanabusa is holding her own in donations from other states, according to the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Both candidates are also spending tens of thousands of dollars on polling and consulting work. With new polls circulating that show the Democratic Senate primary contest remains in flux, Civil Beat is looking at some of the largest sources of the candidates’ money.

The latest FEC reports — they run through Dec. 31 — do not reflect money raised by Schatz at a Honolulu fundraiser headlined by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg last month, nor how much was raised by Hanabusa at a fundraiser on her behalf in New York City in January.

PAC Money

Of the $3.4 million raised by Schatz in his election bid, $562,000 — about 16 percent — has come from PACs. That compares with $224,000 in PAC money for Hanabusa, about 14 percent of the $1.6 million raised by her campaign.

PACs contributing to Schatz include the Council for a Livable World Candidate Fund ($4,430) and the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund ($3,220), reflecting the senator’s support among environmental groups. He also received money from several Democratic leadership PACs like Moving America Forward ($5,000), which tend to favor incumbents. And Schatz has also drawn financial support from telecom interests: Comcast Corporation & NBC Universal ($10,000), Time Warner Cable ($10,000) and National Cable and Telecommunications Association ($5,000).

Hanabusa has received PAC money from groups that reflect gender interests (Women’s Political Committee, $5,000) and ethnic interests (National Asian American Political Empowerment Fund, $1,000). EMILY’s List, which backs female Democratic candidates, has helped with $41,430 in donations to Hanabusa. And the Friends of Israel Political Action Committee gave her $2,500, the Laborer’s International Union of North America gave $5,000 and the Alexander & Baldwin Federal PAC gave $10,000.

Local Donors

Among those who recently contributed generously to Schatz (i.e., between several thousand dollars and the maximum of $5,200) are the following:

Developer Christine Camp, attorney Rick Fried, Hawaii Opera Theater Executive Director Karen Tiller, Title Guaranty CEO Michael Pietsch, AIO Group CFO Bonny Amemiya, attorney Jeff Portnoy, Central Pacific Bank CEO John Dean, Facts Global Energy Chairman Fereidun Fesharaki, Kaneohe Ranch CEO Mitch D’Olier, Kyo-ya President Greg Dickhens, Karl Heyer IV of Heyer & Associates, Frank Lyon of Lyon Associates, Island Holdings executive Keith Amemiya, JTSI attorney Bruss Keppeler and Hawaiian Dredging Construction President Bill Wilson.

Among those who have contributed generously to Hanabusa are the following:

PVT Land Co. operator Ben Yamamoto, Inouye Legacy Fund Executive Director Jennifer Sabas, Tamura Super Market CEO Clifford Tamura, Matson Navigation executive Kuuhaku Park, R.M. Towill Corp. executives David Tanoue and Collins Lam, Honolulu Publishing chairman Dave Pelligrin, SSFM Engineers executive Michael Matsumoto, Monarch Group manager John Toner, U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni, A&B executive Meredith Ching, A&B attorneys Allen Doane and Nelson Chun, Western Pacific Fishery Management Executive Director Rose Kitty Simonds, retired Navy Admiral Thomas Fargo, Keaki Technologies principal Vaughn Vasconcellos, Hawaiian Telcom executive John Komeiji, former UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and education specialist Anne Kokubun.

Attorney Jeff Watanabe and Hawaiian Electric executive Connie Lau each gave to both candidates.

Mainland Donors

Schatz has received tens of thousands of dollars from attorneys, venture capitalists, lobbyists, consultants, real estate interests and investors from across the country. Some of those same groups, especially attorneys, have given to Hanabusa.

Schatz’s most generous mainland contributors during the recent reporting period include the following:

Comcast Director Aileen Roberts, musician Don Henley, Google executive Richard Holden, ATC Partners CEO Michael Halper, Carnival North American executive Thomas Dow, Peter Flowers of Meyers & Flowers, Carmel Partners CEO Ron Zeff and San Francisco Giants executive Staci Slaughter.

Hanabusa’s biggest mainland contributors include the following:

FT Holdings Founder and Managing Director J. Douglas Hines, Happy Madison executive producer Douglas Robinson, “The Simpsons” writer Carolyn Omine, Fox Sports executive Jason Wormser, TV agent Robert Rothman and Creative Artists Agency agent Adam Berkowitz.

Spent Money

Both campaigns have spent money on typical campaign expenses: printing, mailing, phones, Internet, salaries, travel, catering. The greatest expenditures have been for things like polling and consulting.

Schatz’s campaign paid $34,600 to The Mellman Group of Washington, D.C., for polling during the October-December reporting period. And $20,000 has gone to Lori LaFave, a Virginia-based fundraising consultant.

Hanabusa’s campaign during that same period paid $61,600 to Benenson Strategy Group of New York for consulting and surveys. Stones’ Phones of California received $4,600 for “robo calling services.” And Revolution Messaging of D.C. — which does consulting in mobile and online strategies and web design — received more than $20,000.

Contact Chad Blair via email at or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.

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