Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka are notably absent in the coverage of Civil Beat's recent poll about donors' influence on Congress.
Despite repeated requests, both senators declined to discuss poll results that show Hawaii voters believe they have less influence on their congressional representatives than wealthy donors and corporations. Both of Hawaii’s congresswomen, Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono, provided detailed responses to the poll results.
In a November interview — before Civil Beat conducted the poll — we sat down with Inouye and discussed how money influences politicians.
"I’m one of the lucky ones," Inouye said in that Nov. 30 interview. "Throughout my political career, I’ve never had a contest where I had to go out and beg… I would hate to be in a position, and I hope that I would have the good sense to quit this job if I had to raise millions."
Inouye said he makes a point not to look at his campaign finance reports as a way to avoid knowing who gives him money, but he acknowledged that it’s easy to tell who donated when greeting those who pay to attend fundraising events.
Spoiler alert for the senator, if he’s reading:
Since 1989, Inouye has received the majority of his individual donations — 62 percent — from out-of-state, according to the Influence Explorer website. He may not be begging for millions, but Inouye raked in more than $12.2 million in the last two decades. More than a quarter of that money came leading up to Inouye’s last re-election in 2010.
Political action committees gave him 34 percent of his total contributions during that time, with the biggest PAC donations coming from Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and Boeing.
As for Sen. Akaka: He received just 31 percent of his individual donations from out-of-state since 1989, but he has received a greater percentage of his donations from PACs: 49 percent.
Akaka’s biggest PAC donations came from the International Longshoremen’s Union, Alexander & Baldwin and the Air Line Pilots Association.