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Political gift limit blocked

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Two men who went to court to challenge contribution limits and other state campaign spending laws can each give $2,500 to a noncandidate political action committee that supports traditional marriage and opposes abortion and physician-assisted suicide, a federal judge ruled this week.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett said the state is asking the judge for a stay while it appeals the ruling to the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals. If the judge denies the state’s request, the state will ask for a stay from the appeals court, Bennett said.

Jimmy Yamada, of local contractor A-1 A-Lectrician Inc., and Russell Stewart went to court because a state campaign spending law would have limited each of their contributions to Aloha Family Alliance to $1,000 for the upcoming general election.

The law limits contributions to a noncandidate committee from single donors to $1,000 per election. A person may contribute $1,000 for the primary election and another $1,000 for the general, or up to $2,000 per election cycle.

Yamada and Stewart did not contribute to AFA for the primary election.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright issued a written order Thursday directing the state to allow Yamada and Stewart to contribute $2,500 to AFA for the general election as long as AFA gives money only in support of issue-based activities and does not give money to individual candidates.

Seabright’s order does not allow others to exceed the contribution limit, nor does it address Yamada’s and Stewart’s challenges of other state campaign finance laws.

However, Bennett said, "The order has much broader implications."

The order comes in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January that said government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections because such a ban violates constitutional free speech guarantees.

Yamada, Stewart and their lawyer could not be reached for comment yesterday.

 

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