CT Campaign Finance Reform down for the count
Wealthy candidates opted out in 2010 Gubernatorial race...by 2012,
Malloy administration's proposal to mix public financing and unlimited private cash was roundly panned.

C A M P A I G N    F I N A N C E   R E F O R M   R E D U X ?
What do we know about where the money is coming from and when do we find out?  Check it out from non-LWV source here.
Older news.

FBI Agents Turning Screws On CT Legislators
Hartford Courant
Kevin Rennie, NOW YOU KNOW
4:20 PM EST, February 20, 2014

Federal criminal investigators returned Wednesday to their stomping grounds, the Legislative Office Building in the state Capitol complex. Agents were in search of information about ties among some Republican legislators, a staffer and a Florida printing company that produces gazillions of copies of post cards and assorted brochures for candidates, many of whom use public funds to finance their political campaigns.

On Thursday afternoon, House Republican chief of staff George Gallo, a veteran campaign hand, resigned as federal agents continued to ask questions from their tense perch in the Legislative Office Building.

The state's misbegotten public campaign financing program did not invent corruption, but it may have created a lucrative new way to exploit some bad instincts. The expensive system involves raising a small amount of money from contributors to snag a big chunk of public money. The system gives a bucket of cash to candidates who previously would barely have had a nickel to buy paint for lawn signs.

Many of these candidates have no clue how to spend it. They turn to that curious hybrid class of politicos for direction: legislative staff members who double as campaign consultants. It's a dangerous combination but the rewards can be lucrative because there are millions of dollars (your dollars) to be spent on campaigns. Wednesday's questions, according to Capitol insiders, seemed aimed at learning about possible kickbacks between a printer and a campaign pooh-bah.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Despite Latest Evidence of Corruption, Lawmakers Consider Giving More Money to Parties, PACs
by Christine Stuart | May 29, 2013 8:34am

Behind closed-doors Tuesday, lawmakers were crafting legislation that would help them funnel more money to political party committees, legislative leadership committees, and political action committees.

According to Rep. Ed Jutila, who co-chairs the General Administration and Elections Committee, the “essence” of the bill is an attempt to address the Citizens’ United decision that allowed unlimited amounts of money to be spent by Super PACs either for or against candidates — even if those candidates participated in the public campaign finance system. Close to $700,000 in independent expenditures from Super PACs was spent in the 2012 election cycle.

“It’s one way to try and even the playing field,” Jutila said Tuesday.

Jutila said the amount of money individuals can give to the candidates participating in the Citizens’ Election Program will not change under the omnibus campaign finance bill, but the amount of money individuals can give to the two major parties, leadership PACs, and town committees will increase under the proposal.

The proposal comes just one week after a federal corruption trial demonstrated exactly how much sway money has over Connecticut politics and policymaking. During that trial, a cooperating witness detailed how he was able to use the donations to former House Speaker Chris Donovan’s failed congressional campaign and three Republican leadership PACs controlled by House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero in an effort to kill legislation detrimental to the interests of smoke shop owners.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CTNEWSJUNKIE website]

Governor's controversial campaign finance fix rejected
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
March 29, 2012

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's much-maligned proposal to let publicly financed candidates raise unlimited supplemental funds if opposed by a high-spending opponent was rejected Thursday by a legislative committee.

Instead, the Government Administration and Elections Committee increased the public grant for a gubernatorial race from $1.25 million to $2.5 million for a primary and from $6 million to $9 million for the general election.

The changes passed 10-5 on a party-line vote.

The Malloy administration's proposal to mix public financing and unlimited private cash was roundly panned by Common Cause, the Citizen Action Group, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and newspaper editorial boards.

"That was just a conversation starter, and it started conversations," said Sen. Gayle S. Slossberg, D-Milford. "But it also allowed us to have a very important discussion about how do you have a program that really works."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT MIRROR website]

Supreme Court: matching grants in public financing are unconstitutional
Deirdre Shesgreen, CT MIRROR
June 27, 2011

WASHINGTON--A narrowly-divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that supplemental grants triggered by an opponent's spending in state public funding systems are unconstitutional.

The 5-to-4 decision means Connecticut will not be able to revive the matching grants that helped fuel the bids of both Democrat Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Michael C. Fedele in last year's expensive gubernatorial contest, as they competed against two wealthy, self-funding opponents.

The case at issue in today's ruling involved an Arizona law that--just like Connecticut's--provided candidates participating in the state's public financing system extra funds based on their opponents' spending. Proponents of such matching-grant provisions argued that they fostered a more robust debate in elections, made public financing more workable, and helped guard against corruption by limiting special interest campaign contributions.

But opponents said they actually stifled free speech and punished candidates who declined to participate in public financing-because any money they injected into their own campaigns could trigger public grants to their opponents. In Monday's ruling, the majority agreed with the latter argument, saying that Arizona's matching grant system "substantially burdens protected political speech" and violates the First Amendment.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT MIRROR website]

Supreme Court campaign finance case has implications for Connecticut
Deirdre Shesgreen, CT MIRROR
March 28, 2011

WASHINGTON--Connecticut's public campaign financing program will be on trial--indirectly, anyway--before the U.S. Supreme Court today, when the justices will hear oral arguments in an Arizona case to determine whether supplemental grants, triggered by an opponent's spending are constitutional.

Such payments were doled out to both Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Michael C. Fedele during Connecticut's heated gubernatorial primary contests last summer, as they scrambled to keep up with their wealthy self-funding opponents. Just weeks before the state's primary election, a federal appeals court deemed those supplemental grants unconstitutional, prompting a special legislative session in Hartford to deal with the fall-out.

But two months earlier, a federal court in California ruled that a similar Arizona system, which also provided candidates participating in the state's public financing system extra funds based on their opponents' spending, was constitutional.

Now, the Supreme Court will decide the issue, which touches on a wide range of thorny legal questions, from campaign finance rules to freedom of speech.

Opponents of triggered extra payments say that system "punishes" candidates who don't participate in public financing and hinders their free speech. Supporters say such a system actually encourages more robust debate in elections and keep campaigns free of corruption by limiting the influence of special interest campaign contributions.

For now-Gov. Malloy, the funding from Connecticut's Citizens' Election Program was certainly critical. He got $2.5 million for the primary and $6 million for the general election in CEP funds.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT MIRROR website]

Senate Passes Campaign-Finance Law Fix; Rell Promises Veto
Hartford Courant
10:07 PM EDT, July 30, 2010


Amid one of the most contentious election cycles in years, lawmakers labored through the day Friday in an attempt to fix the state's campaign finance law, deemed unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. The Senate approved the changes Friday night and sent them on to the House.

The repair put forth by the legislature's Democratic majority and approved by the state Senate along party lines Friday night restructures the taxpayer-funded Citizens Election Fund and increases the size of the grants to those running for constitutional offices. In the case of gubernatorial candidates, the grants would double from $3 million to $6 million.

But Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has called campaign finance reform and clean elections a key part of her legacy, vowed to veto any measure that raises the ceiling on grants.

"I cannot in good conscience endorse an additional $6 million in public funding that will be used by candidates to bombard each other — and the public — with a relentless series of negative messages from now until November,'' Rell said in a statement.

"The public is already fed up with the nasty, negative campaign ads that are playing almost non-stop on TV and radio. Now legislators want to give away even more public funds — as much as $6 million — to keep these attacks going.''

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds, Rejects Parts Of State Campaign Law
By EDMUND H. MAHONY, The Hartford Courant
11:34 AM EDT, July 13, 2010

In a decision that will have immediate implications for one of the most competitive state political campaign cycles in years, a federal appeals court overruled a lower court's conclusion that the state's landmark campaign finance reform law unconstitutionally discriminates against minor party candidates.

However, in a densely worded, 56- page decision, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's invalidation of two of the finance reform law's "trigger provisions" that govern excess and independent campaign expenditures. The decision, written by appeals court Judge Jose Cabranes of New Haven, said the trigger provisions violate the first amendment rights of candidates and other individuals and organizations to "spend their own funds on campaign speech."

The decision on public financing of campaigns was one of two released in New York Tuesday on the state's campaign finance reform law.

A second 38-page decision upheld some and rejected other parts of the state law restricting campaign contributions and political activity by lobbyists and state contractors.

The appeals court upheld U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill's conclusion that the law's ban on contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, the principals of contractors and prospective state contractors is valid under first amendment free speech protections.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

First audit finds problems at campaign finance agency
Jacqueline Rabe, CT MIRROR
May 28, 2010

The state agency responsible for dispensing millions of dollars in public grants for candidates to finance their campaigns received a harsh audit last week.  State Auditor Robert G. Jaekle said several findings in the 15-page audit of the State Elections Enforcement Commission are common, but three critiques stand out.  Among other things, the auditors found that nearly $200,000 in expenses for equipment or services lacked documentation.

In a review of 25 expenditures during the first three fiscal years of the campaign finance system, SEEC did not have the proper receipts and paperwork on two occasions, or 8 percent of the time.
The state paid $192,261 to a private contractor for information technology, and no SEEC supervisor approved the purchase or verified that the amount billed represented services rendered, according to the audit.

"That is uncommon," Jaekle said. "It is possible the state paid much more than what it actually got."

The SEEC had weeks to produce the documents to prove they were accurately billed, he said.  The state also paid $4,190 for electronic data equipment but only had receipts for $599 worth of equipment.

"We found the agency paid for something and did not check what they were being billed for," Jaekle said. "They might have paid for something they didn't get. I'm am not saying that's what happened, but it opens the door to questions when the proper documentation is not there."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT MIRROR website]

Campaign finance reform law faces uncertain future
By Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register Topics Editor
Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advocates are pushing for a fix to the state’s campaign financing law, sooner rather than later, as federal courts begin hearings next month that could further complicate the 2010 elections.

Driving the issue is the potential that there will be two millionaire candidates for governor — Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Ned Lamont — who will opt out of public financing, which could leave opponents at a big disadvantage unless there is an approved public funding method to help them compete.

Portions of Connecticut’s campaign finance legislation were ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in August and an appeal by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is being fast-tracked for oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 13.

Meanwhile, the areas Underhill ruled against, namely additional requirements for minor parties to qualify for assistance, and a “trigger,” that would release additional funds for candidates being badly outspent by wealthy opponents, are stayed until a final ruling.

On the national level, the betting among high court watchers, is that the majority of justices will overturn 100 years of legal precedent that reined in corporate and union campaign spending.

Connecticut is one of 24 states where bans on direct corporate and union funds could be overturned in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the New Haven Register website]

Report: Madoff spent nearly $1 million on politicians
By Don Michak, Manchester Journal Inquirer
Published: Monday, December 29, 2008 10:28 AM EST

Bernard Madoff, the New York financial adviser behind an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme said to have cost the town of Fairfield $42 million in pension fund investments, spent nearly $1 million since 1991 to gain influence in Washington, according to a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group.

An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that over that period Madoff, his wife, and others associated with his company, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, made a total of $610,300 in contributions to federal candidates, parties, and committees.

The center says federal lobbying records also show that Madoff’s firm spent $590,000 to gain influence in the nation’s capital, with all but $10,000 of that money going to the firm of Lent, Scrivner & Roth, whose clients also have included AT&T, Chevron Texaco, Keyspan Energy, and National Grid.

Nearly 90 percent of the Madoff-linked campaign contributions went to Democrats, according to the center, with the most — $102,000 — going to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Manchester Journal Inquirer website]

Yale Professor Defends Connecticut's Campaign Financing Laws
The Hartford Courant
December 11, 2008


— A political scientist strongly defended Connecticut's new program of publicly financed campaigns Wednesday against discrimination claims by the Green and Libertarian parties.  Donald P. Green, a Yale University professor and expert on American campaigns, testified in federal court that the state has imposed reasonable requirements for minor candidates to qualify for public financing.

The Green and Libertarian parties are asking U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill to declare the new law unconstitutional, saying it is burdensome and unfair to minor parties.  Green disputed a contention by the minor parties, which was supported by a sworn statement from former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., that the law was designed to protect the two major parties.

"My view is that the [new law] makes it easier for minor parties" to compete, Green testified.

Another minor party, the Working Families Party, refused to join the challenge and instead has offered a sworn statement defending the law.

"The qualifying requirements, while challenging, are achievable," the Working Families Party said.

To qualify for public financing, any candidate must demonstrate public support by raising seed money in small amounts.  For a state House race, candidates must raise $5,000 in seed money and collect donations of between $5 and $100 from 150 donors. Qualifying candidates then are given a $25,000 public grant for a general election. The grants for a gubernatorial campaign are $3 million.  Minor party candidates are eligible for the full grant only if their party won 20 percent of the vote for that office in the previous election — or if they gather signatures equal to 20 percent of the vote.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Earlier stories...from the red-white-and-blue days!

Rell Exults After Vote;  GOP Legislators Parted With Governor

December 2, 2005
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, Courant Staff Writer
Gov. M. Jodi Rell celebrated the passage of far-reaching campaign finance reforms Thursday, even though fellow Republicans largely abandoned her on the issue and a court challenge is possible.

"We have set the standard," Rell said. "We are now a role model for the rest of the nation. I think that Connecticut can be very proud of this bill."

The Democratic-controlled Senate and House combined for nearly 14 hours of debate Wednesday night and Thursday morning, concluding at 2:44 a.m. with passage by the House on an 82-65 vote.

Seven hours earlier, the Senate voted 27-8 to approve the legislation, which bans contributions from lobbyists and contractors and creates a voluntary system of publicly financing campaigns for state office.

Only four Republicans in each chamber supported the bill, which was drafted by Democrats.

House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward, R-North Branford, rebuffed overtures from Rell's senior staff and led a vigorous floor fight against a bill that he described as badly flawed.  The political parties and legislative leadership's political action committees will be permitted to make unlimited expenditures, such as paying for direct mail appeals, on behalf of candidates who accept public financing.

"I found that loophole to be so overwhelming I couldn't support the bill," Ward said.

Rell said that she also was troubled by those provisions, but that bans on lobbyist and state contractor dollars, as well as public financing, go far to minimize what she called the corrosive influence of special interests in politics.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Set An Example In The State;  Cleaning up campaign finance would improve the legislature and the state.
New London DAY editorial
Published on 11/25/2005

Connecticut can set an example for other states by passing a comprehensive campaign-finance-reform bill that takes power out of the hands of lobbyists and special interests and returns that authority to the voters. This was the message delivered this week to state officials by leaders of the national League of Women Voters. It should be a rallying cry for all legislators who want a cleaner, more ethical Connecticut.

The issue has lingered in a special session in the legislature, largely because Democrats don't want to start any reforms now.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed a tough reform package earlier this year. She wants to make it illegal for state contractors and lobbyists, Political Action Committees and campaign ad book clients to contribute to candidates. She would also accompany that package with taxpayer-supported campaign financing.

This is a good plan. It takes the influence from special interests and it would lead to limitations on spending that would make election races fairer at all state levels. No longer would incumbents, well-financed by special interests seeking to influence legislation and contracts, be able to pile up huge sums of money and thus discourage potential opponents from running against them.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]