Editor’s Note: Civil Beat is visiting local TV stations again this campaign season to track how much money is being spent on political candidates and issues. The Public File is a regular series that compiles records kept by network and cable stations in Honolulu showing ad buys made by campaigns and political committees. The records, which are required to be made public under federal law, are expected to be posted publicly on the stations’ websites beginning in July. But for now we’re still picking up paper copies, scanning them into our system and posting them online. Check out our Ad Watch series, too, in which Civil Beat political writers review the latest political spots airing on TV and the Internet.

You know it’s election season when politicians and political action committees start buying up ads on TV.

In the past six months, more than $700,000 has been spent on political TV spots, public records kept by each local TV station show.

Much of that has been spent since January, as campaign season kicks into a higher gear ahead of the Aug. 9 primary.

And once again, the Pacific Resource Partnership is proving itself to be a major political player, this time encouraging policy makers to move forward with big developments that the unions affiliated with the political committee will benefit from.

PRP is the biggest spender so far, paying more than $350,000 for 813 spots aimed at promoting development in Kakaako.

PRP is a consortium of union carpenters and contractors, and played a large part in the 2012 Honolulu mayoral election. The pro-rail PRP spent $1.3 million dollars on a series of ads attacking former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, who was against rail.

The Kakaako ads — a 60-second spot that began in February and a 30-second ad that started in March — talk about the housing shortage in Kakaako. The commercials also support developments like Koa Ridge and Hoopili. The ads don’t specifically endorse any candidate.

The ads, which push “integrated communities” and show computer-generated city landscapes and renderings of Honolulu life, have been running on KHON, KITV, KGMB and KHNL, some for a high price. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, primetime spots cost $6,000. Other pricey buys included a spot during “Grey’s Anatomy” for $4,000 and the “Countdown to the Oscars” for $3,200.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who is running against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to keep his U.S. Senate seat, was the next biggest spender, with 401 spots at a cost of more than $115,000 with his first campaign ad, “Commitment”.

The Schatz campaign paid $2,000 to get on “Grey’s Anatomy.” But the ad has been running on all the networks: KITV, KHON, KHNL, KGMB and KFVE.

The League of Conservation Voters spent more than $117,000 for 402 ads that aired Nov. 21 to Dec. 4 supporting Schatz and praising him for his leadership on clean energy.

The ads aired on KHON, KITV, KGMB, KHNL and KFVE, the most expensive spots costing $2,000 during “Dancing with the Stars”.

Overview of Other Ad Buys

Gov. Neil Abercrombie

The governor revved up his re-election ad campaign in January, spending nearly $50,000 from Jan. 21 to Jan. 31 on 115 spots. One that aired on “Chicago Fire” cost $900.

Abercrombie’s ads have been playing on KHON, KITV, KGMB and KHNL in the morning and evening.

Unite Here Local 5

The local hospitality and healthcare union has spent more than $38,000 on 159 ad spots in its clash with Kaiser Permanente over pension benefits.

The three ads feature Honolulu City Council members Stanley Chang and Joey Manahan, both of whom are running for the 1st Congressional District seat Hanabusa is leaving. Chang and Manahan were not paid for their participation in the ads, as Civil Beat reported in the ongoing series Ad Watch.

The ads run on KITV, KGMB, KHNL and KFVE.

National Organization for Marriage

The group spent more than $37,000 on 104 spots advocating against same-sex marriage. The ads ran during October’s special session of the Legislature that considered the Marriage Equality Act, which passed and was signed into law on Nov. 13.

The ad aired on KITV, KGMB, KHNL and KFVE; the most expensive cost $2,100 and aired during “Hawaii Five-0.”

For the Sake of the Children

During the same special session that passed the Marriage Equality Act, the organization For The Sake Of The Children bought 13 spots for $2,540 on KITV opposing same-sex marriage and urging lawmakers to uphold what the group calls the traditional Hawaiian ohana.

Monsanto Corp.

Monsanto spent nearly $5,000 on three spots airing on KITV from Jan. 28 – Feb. 24, around the time the controversial corporation started its Monsanto Hawaii website and launched a community engagement campaign, “in an effort to promote open dialogue and secure greater understanding about the company’s farming practices and products,” according to a press release.

Maui Invasive Species Council

The council spent more than $6,000 on five spots on KITV in January. “Invasion – Little Fire Ants in Hawaii,” is a special that covered the recent spread of the tiny insects in the islands. The most expensive spot cost $2,500.


A total of $732,745.13 in ads have been bought since October 2013, including $551,850 since January.

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