Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series of reports on campaign finance.
Ten Hawaii business people have accounted for more than $250,000 in campaign contributions to state and local candidates since the beginning of the year.
Super lobbyist John Radcliffe tops the list, giving roughly $46,000 to candidates, according to a Civil Beat review of campaign spending records. He’s been a major player since at least 2006, donating at least $193,000 since then.
Radcliffe is arguably the top lobbyist in Hawaii representing dozens of business and organizations, including AT&T, Monsanto, Corrections Corporation of America and the Hawaii School Bus Association.
He said it’s important to essentially put your money where your mouth is and participate in elections.
“Precious few do,” he said. “Many of them talk about it, a lot of them read about it but not a lot of them participate in it.”
Not surprisingly, the other names on the list are huge figures in the local business community, including CEOs and private developers.
Big contributors say they donate because they think it’s important to participate in the political process different ways.
“Most of my contributions, whether they’re for nonprofits or for political efforts, are based on relationships that I already have so it’s not really that they would pick up the phone because I donated to them,” said Tim Johns, an executive at the Hawaii Medical Service Association. “I don’t think it’s about buying access.”
In recent years, Johns has donated more than $76,000 to Hawaii candidates, ranking him No. 5 on Civil Beat’s list of top donors. Johns is also campaign chair for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mazie Hirono.
He says he got to know Hirono while working as the director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources under former Gov. Ben Cayetano — Hirono was lieutenant governor — and while working for the Nature Conservancy team when she was a representative in the Hawaii Legislature.
Stanford Carr of Stanford Carr Development has given nearly $80,000, ranking him No. 4. Carr said he has been around long enough to develop relationships with some of those in legislative and public service. While he supports candidates that he believes are doing the right thing for the right causes, others “are just personal friends that hey, I gotta back them up.”
Arthur Ushijima, president and CEO of Queen’s Health Systems, has donated $74,000 in recent years. He doesn’t believe that donating money necessarily makes these relationships any stronger. “If you’ve had a long standing relationship, that doesn’t totally change just because of the contributions,” Ushijima said.
To compile our list of top donors, Civil Beat analyzed campaign finance records that go back as far as 2004. The data is current through July 27. Contributions made right before the Aug. 11 primary will be released at the end of this month.
Taken together, these 10 individuals gave local political candidates $253,000 this year, or about 4 percent of the $5.8 million in total contributions for that period.
John Radcliffe is a well-known lobbyist who currently works for Radcliffe and Associates, Capitol Consultants of Hawaii and G.A. Morris Inc. He has lived in Hawaii since 1975 and was executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association for 13 years. According to Follow the Money, a site that tracks campaign money for state-level elections, Radcliffe has been making donations every election year since at least 1998. He typically donates to Democrats in amounts that range from $250 to $1,000 but has been known to give up to $6,000 and to donate to the occasional Republican. He said 50 years of experience helps him decide whom he’ll donate to.
G. A. “Red” Morris started his firm G. A. Morris Inc., in 1975. Since then the firm has represented clients including the Hawaii Association of Realtors and Nature Conservancy of Hawaii at the Legislature. Before founding his own firm, Morris served as the chief of staff for the Honolulu Board of Realtors and of the Hawaii Association of Realtors. His political donations are generally between $250 and $1,500 to mostly Democrats and a few Republicans.
Jeffrey R. Stone is the founder of The Resort Group and the developer behind Ko Olina and Ko Olina Marina. His company also owns the Princeville at Hanalei in Kauai and other properties in Oregon, California and the Bahamas. His donations are usually between $1,000 to $2,000 to both Democrats and Republicans, although he appears to prefer Democrats.
Stanford Carr founded Stanford Carr Development in 1990. His company’s projects include the Hawaii Kai Peninsula community on Oahu, Kehalani Gardens on Maui, and the Waikoloa Colony Villas on the Big Island. He donates to both Democrats and Republicans and his contributions are usually about $500-$2,000. “I think it’s important that we support those that are out there doing the right thing for the right causes,” he said.
Tim Johns is a Senior Vice President of Hawaii Medical Service Association and on the board of directors for Hawaiian Electric Co, Inc. He is also Trustee for the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust. His donations tend to be to Democrats. Follow the Money shows that his contributions range from between $50 to $6,000.
Russell Figueiroa is the president of the Honolulu consulting engineering company, R. M. Towill Corp. He has worked there since 1979. While his donations can sometimes be as small as $250, most often between $2,000-$6,000 for mostly Democratic candidates.
Arthur A. Ushijima was appointed president and CEO of Queen’s Health Systems in 2005. He has served as president and CEO of Queen’s Medical Center since 1993. His years of experience before these positions include seven years in the U.S. Air Force Medical Service. His donations recorded range anywhere from $100 to $6,000, mostly to Democrats.
Glenn M. Nohara is the president of the civil construction consulting firm Genba Hawaii Inc. Prior to that he was president of Koga Engineering & Construction Inc. He is also the president of the Engineering Alumni Association University of Hawaii. He donates mostly to Democrats in amounts anywhere from $200 to $6,000.
Lynn McCrory is the President of Pahio Development, Inc., a resort management firm that covers four Kauai properties, including Kauai Beach Villas. She is also a director of Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Hawaii Pacific Health. Her donations are usually to Democrats and range between $250 to $1,500. She donates “because there are some very good people in government and politics and the Legislature. They think, they care, they pay attention to details and yes, if they can be re-elected and yes, if it takes a certain amount of money, then I’m going to do that if that helps,” she said.
William H. Reeves co-founded BlueCrest Capital Management, an investment company based in London. He and his wife created Unbound Philanthropy, a New York-based foundation focused on human migration. Locally, his wife founded The Learning Coalition, a nonprofit which seeks excellence in public schools. The Reeves’ donations tend to be in large chunks, such as $9,000 to the Hawaii Democratic Party or $6,000 to a Democratic or nonpartisan candidate.
—Michael Levine contributed to this report.