Editor’s Note:This article is part of a series exploring land ownership near Honolulu’s proposed 20-mile elevated rail line. The data for the series was produced for Civil Beat by Hawaii Information Service, a public records and real estate data firm.
Major private landowners along Honolulu’s proposed rail line donated more than $75,000 to pro-rail campaigns in the last two elections, a Civil Beat analysis found.
All five campaigns pledged support for the rail project.
Employees at some of the 10 private companies we examined, such as D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes, contributed small sums of money to four of the five campaigns. Employees at other companies, such as Hawaiian Electric, contributed some money to just one campaign. No company had employees who contributed to each of the five campaigns, and three companies didn’t have any employees who contributed to the campaigns, according to campaign finance records.
In addition to employees, some of the contributions under discussion came from political action committees (PACs) — committees organized to facilitate campaign donations. Some contributions were explicitly listed as coming from PACs, such as that of First Hawaiian Bank. Other contributions were listed as coming from the company itself, with no additional information provided. Those less-specific contributions came from companies like Forest City (to Hannemann for mayor in 2008), Hawaiian Golf Properties (to Carlisle for mayor) and Wal-Mart (to Hannemann for governor in 2010).
The total haul of $75,150 uncovered by Civil Beat’s investigation is a small fraction of all the contributions received by those five campaigns, about 1 percent. However it’s not clear if all contributors identified their employers in finance records, or how much they gave to other campaigns during the same time frame. The campaigns raised more than $8 million.
The large landowners’ donations overwhelmingly went to Hannemann, who received roughly 80 percent of the $75,000.
The list of companies includes some that have many interests aside from rail. First Hawaiian Bank and its employees, for example, gave a total of $43,700 to the five campaigns we analyzed. But banks have plenty of business with government that doesn’t involve the success of the rail project.