Thielen Turns Down PAC Support, But Criticized by Hawaii GOP for Backing from Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood

Laura Thielen
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Laura Thielen

Laura Thielen, candidate for State Senate District 25, was criticized earlier this week by Hawaii Republican Party Chairman David Chang, for a statement she made earlier this week.

Thielen, a Democrat running for state Senate District 25, pledged to campaign exclusively on grassroots support and sent out a statement maintaining she has stuck to that promise.


“When I decided to run for office, I also decided that I would not seek or take any funds from Political Action Committees, or “PACs’,” Thielen said.  “PACs are springing up around the country to spend huge amounts of money on political campaigns.  But the source of some PAC dollars is not public information, and you don’t know who is attempting to influence the politician through these donations.  Plus PACs tend to be focused on narrow interests, which don’t necessarily represent the broader community interests.”

Thielen said she raised $59,539 in contributions from 115 individuals and a couple small businesses, and turned down offers of funds from many PACS during this election.

“Candidates shouldn’t wait for legislatures to adopt campaign finance reform.  We can take steps ourselves to make sure our campaign funding is transparent to voters and that we focus on broader community interests,” Thielen said.

But Chang said although Thielen is disavowing PAC support, both the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood have spent money on her race.

“If she really wanted to disavow PACs, she would ask them to not spend money on her race. It is also convenient to state her position after she has received help from them. We need elected officials that are consistent with their positions and will work hard on doing what is best for the district and not worried about what happens with contributions for a PAC,” Chang said.

In response, Thielen said: “The point I was making is I’m taking the steps I can as a candidate regarding the funds that are under my control.  If we want to control how PACs spend their funds, that will take legislation.  I do support campaign finance that would give greater transparency on the sources of funds given to PACs.  Also on subsequent government contracts that may go to PAC donors. But in the meantime, I made a decision not to take PAC money for the reasons given.  It’s a start.”
Thielen is a former member of the Board of Education and the former Director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and runs a farm in Waimanalo. She is running against Fred Hemmings, who held that Senate seat until retiring in 2010. Hemmings is a Republican, a world champion surfer and paddler and has served in both the House and Senate. Their district includes Kailua, Waimanalo and parts of Hawaii Kai.





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