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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported how much money the Hawaii Community Foundation spent on lobbying from Jan. 1, 2013 to Feb. 29, 2016 due to the nonprofit mistakenly including more expenses than necessary in its filings with the Hawaii Ethics Commission. The mistakes resulted in the Hawaii Community Foundation being listed as one of the state’s top lobbying organizations. A spokesperson for the nonprofit says it has since submitted accurate numbers to the state ethics commission. The article has been updated to reflect the change.
Alexander & Baldwin and its employees, including those working at subsidiaries, have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates in Hawaii over the past several election cycles, a Civil Beat analysis of state campaign spending data shows.
The data shows that from Nov. 8, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2015, A&B, its board and its top executives have given more than $600,000 to political candidates running for state and local office, from county council to governor.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is running for re-election in 2016, has been the biggest beneficiary, taking in more than $80,000. That’s more than twice what former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann each received from A&B while politicking in the Aloha State. Abercrombie and Hannemann were the next biggest beneficiaries, each getting about $34,000 from the A&B contingent.
The longtime real estate developer and agriculture business has been in the news recently in connection with water rights that are the subject of House Bill 2501, which would extend water leases for companies around the state. A&B’s off-and-on inclusion in the bill is seen by critics as a way around a recent court ruling that found the company’s diversion of East Maui streams for commercial agriculture in Central Maui was illegal.
A&B President and CEO Chris Benjamin was flanked by legislative leaders at a Capitol news conference this week when he said his company would permanently restore as many as eight streams for taro farms.
Much of the money donated to candidates goes through A&B’s political action committee, which, the data shows, has given out $275,575 in contributions to candidates from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2015. That makes A&B’s PAC one of the most active in the state, although far from the top of the list.
|Political Action Committee||Amount Donated to Candidates|
|Realtors Political Action Committee of Hawaii||$688,825|
|Hawaii Ironworkers Stabilization Fund PAC||$490,094|
|Hawaii Carpenters Political Action Fund||$476,970|
|Plumbers & Pipefitters Political Action Committee||$438,050|
|ILWU Hawaii Political Action Committee||$352,450|
|HSTA Government Relations Committee||$344,360|
|Hawaii Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust||$301,700|
|Alexander & Baldwin Inc. HiPAC||$275,575|
|Hawaii Government Employees Association||$267,897|
|Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry Stabilization Fund||$259,900|
|Local Union 1186 IBEW PAC Fund||$251,525|
|Hawaii Laborers’ Political Action Committee||$245,325|
|Committee on Political Education-General Fund & Political Contributions||$197,398|
|Painters Local Union 1791 PAC||$187,398|
|Local Union 293 State Legislature Fund||$180,000|
|United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646 AFL-CIO, PAC||$166,656|
|American Resort Development Association Resort Owners Coalition PAC (ARDA ROC-PAC)||$157,632|
|Local #1 – Political Action Committee||$152,575|
The top donors by far among A&B’s elite are executive chairman Stanley Kuriyama and David Hulihee, who is the president and CEO of Grace Pacific, which was acquired by the company in October 2013. Records show that Kuriyama gave at least $111,150 to state and local candidates from Nov. 8, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2015 while Hulihee gave at least $72,250.
Alexander & Baldwin also spent nearly $51,000 on lobbying from Jan.1, 2013, to Feb. 29, 2016, according to data from the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. The company’s lobbyists are Paul Oshiro and Meredith Ching.
The amount A&B spends on lobbying puts the company in the top 100 in the state, but pales in comparison to heavy hitters like the the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, Altria Client Services (a parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris) and Corrections Corporation of America, all of which have spent more than half a million dollars each trying to sway state lawmakers.
|Organization||Total Lobbying Expenses|
|Hawaii Children’s Action Network SPEAKS||$891,212|
|Altria Client Services LLC||$631,820|
|Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA)||$631,386|
|Corrections Corporation of America||$535,993|
|Turtle Bay Resort||$525,405|
|American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii||$367,511|
|Hawaii Medical Service Association||$334,037|
|United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO||$291,323|
|Outrigger Enterprises Group||$281,527|
|Queen’s Health Systems||$260,936|
|Kauai Island Utility Cooperative||$241,077|
Large sums of A&B money goes to candidates running for governor, mayor and county council, particularly in Honolulu and on Maui, where candidates have received $62,800 and $67,700, respectively for their races.
The data shows legislative candidates have received at least $148,125 from A&B and its affiliates from Nov. 8, 2006, through Dec. 31,2015. Senate candidates received at least $71,800 flowing in to their campaign accounts. House candidates received at least $76,325.
|State Senate Candidate||A&B Contributions|
|Dela Cruz, Donovan||$8,900|
|Chun Oakland, Suzanne||$150|
|State House Candidate||A&B Contributions|
|Takai, K. Mark||$850|