There are at least 82 political action committees lined up to get involved in this year’s elections, according to the state Campaign Spending Commission’s Noncandidate Committee Filing System.

Corporations, unions, political parties and other organizations form committees, also known as political action committees (PACs), to generate money to help the candidates of their choice.

In Hawaii, those committees are free to make direct campaign contributions and other expenditures – such as those on advertisements and mailings — to support or oppose candidates as long as they report their spending. They can receive and spend unlimited amounts of money, although there are limits on how much they can give to a particular candidate — $2,000 to $6,000 depending on the office. “Noncandidate” committees also can’t accept more than $1,000 from a single donor.

Civil Beat is following the money in a variety of ways. We’re tracking campaign contributions, government expenditures, political ad spending and the like — all to unveil the big-money groups and individual donors fueling this year’s races.

Civil Beat reviewed campaign organization paperwork filed with the Campaign Spending Commission since January 2011 — the start of the 2012 election cycle — and found 82 committees that are either independent expenditure committees or political action committees. It’s impossible to know for sure which candidates or issues some groups are supporting or opposing because state law doesn’t require them to reveal that.

A bill before the Hawaii Legislature this year that would have required the committees to specify who they supporting or opposing died on the last day of the legislative session that ended in May.

However, the Campaign Spending Commission maintains a list of the independent expenditure committees that have apparently identified that information on their paperwork. So far, the state has registered five such groups: A Better Hawaii, Hawaii Solutions, Kauai Women’s Caucus, MADPAC Hawaii and Pacific Resource Partnership.

“Organizational Report” filings published on the commission’s website reveal that a slew of other PACs have already jumped on the elections bandwagon this year as well.

Noncandidate committees must file organizational reports within 10 days of receiving contributions or making expenditures that amount to more than $1,000 in a two-year election period, according to the commission’s website.

But the next batch of reports that detail how money is being raised and spent aren’t due until Aug. 1, less than two weeks before the Aug. 11 primary election. Candidates must file their finance reports by July 12.

The list of PACs includes a lot of familiar names: hotels (Outrigger, Turtle Bay), corporate giants (GlaxoSmithKline, Monsanto), unions (Operating Engineers Local Union 3, HGEA). But some names are less obvious, like A Better Hawaii or Change Hawaii.

Here’s the full list of the noncandidate political committees that have registered with the state so far for the 2012 election cycle.

  • A Better Hawaii
  • ActBlue Hawaii
  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • Aloha Family Alliance
  • American Council of Engineering Company of Hawaii
  • Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
  • Associations, Inc.
  • Assurance Financial Partners, LLC
  • Automated HealthCare Solutions
  • Bank of Hawaii Corporation Special Political Education Committee (State PAC)
  • Bill Mills Development Co., Inc.
  • Build-PAC Hawaii
  • Central Pacific Bank
  • Change Hawaii
  • Citizens for Responsive Government
  • Community Leadership
  • CP Investment REIT
  • Edward Enterprises, Inc.
  • Electrical Contractors Association of Hawaii
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • EMILY’s List
  • Environmental Caucus of Democratic Party of Hawaii
  • EWM Investments, LLC
  • Farmers Insurance Hawaii Employees
  • GlaxoSmithKline, LLC
  • Green Solar Transportation, LLC
  • Hawaii Electrical Workers, Local 722
  • Hawaii Financial Services Association
  • Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA)
  • Hawaii Insurers Council
  • Hawaii Laborers
  • Hawaii Medical
  • Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry Stabilization Fund
  • Hawaii PV Coalition
  • Hawaii Republican Party
  • Hawaii Republicans for Life
  • Hawaii Solar Energy Association
  • Hawaii Solutions
  • Hawaii’s Children First
  • HDR
  • HIIA
  • Honolulu Marine
  • Hualalai Investors
  • Hualalai-PIA Kona
  • IBEW Local 1260 Voluntary Political Fund
  • IBEW Local Union 1357
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermarkers – LEAP
  • Irongate AZREP BW LLC
  • Kauai Women’s Caucus
  • Leo A. Daly Company
  • Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Inc.
  • MADPAC Hawaii
  • Monsanto Company
  • National Federation of Independent Business Hawaii Safe Trust
  • Native Hawaiian PAC
  • NCL America / Polynesian Adventure Tours
  • Oahu League of Republican Women
  • Office and Professional Employees International Union – JB Moss Voice of the Electorate
  • Operating Engineers Local Union 3
  • Orthopaedic Fellowship Group LLC
  • Outrigger Hotels Hawaii
  • P&R Water Taxi, Ltd.
  • Pacific Resource Partnership
  • Progressive Hawaii Now
  • Protect our Keiki
  • Prudential Locations LLC
  • PRP
  • Quality Care Products, LLC
  • Realtors PAC of Hawaii
  • Republican Women’s Club of Kauai
  • Save Ewa Beach
  • Subcontractors Association of Hawaii
  • The Dow AgroSciences LLC (Employee PAC)
  • Trinity Investments LLC
  • Turtle Bay Resort, LLC
  • United Health Group Incorporation
  • University of Hawaii Professional Assembly
  • UNITE HERE TIP State and Local Hawaii
  • West Oahu 2010

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