Party, Outside Spending in CT Elections Prompt Calls for Public Financing Reforms

CT Mirror: “State contractors spent freely to support the re-election of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a publicly financed candidate, despite a prohibition enacted in 2005 in response to the bid-rigging scandal that toppled Republican Gov. John G. Rowland.

“The state’s laws on disclosure fell short as Republican Tom Foley, also a publicly financed candidate for governor, benefitted from a $1.17 million contribution from an out-of-state Super PAC, whose financial backers remain unknown.”

“It is unclear who will be the commission’s champion.

“The Malloy administration, which has stripped the commission and other watchdog agencies of staff and other resources, says only that it will watch with interest. And legislators, who are their own special interest group when it comes to election laws, tend to view campaign-finance rules through the narrow prism of self-interest.

“The top leaders of the General Assembly, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, already disagree on whether the legislature should impose a new cap on the expenditures a state party can make in support of a publicly financed legislative candidate.”

Outside Spending Used to Criticize CT’s Public Financing Program

Courant: “Connecticut’s candidates for governor spent close to $13 million in public campaign financing in this past election. Outside ‘independent’ special interests spent an estimated $17 million on the same race, a fact critics say is proof the system is broken beyond repair.”

At least a dozen bills already have been filed by Republicans in the 2015 General Assembly to repeal or reform Connecticut’s once-heralded Citizen’s Election Program. But the fate of the bills proposed by the Republicans is uncertain in a Democrat-controlled legislature.”

“The State Elections Enforcement Commission, the agency that runs the public financing system, is planning to meet Tuesday to discuss its own reform proposals.”

“‘It’s safe to say we will oppose any proposals to eliminate or weaken the program,’ said Joshua Foley, an SEEC attorney. Foley said reforms the commission will consider are likely to include those that strengthen controls over the outside ‘dark’ money that flooded into Connecticut’s 2014 governor’s race.”

NM, AR MO, CT, ME Most Likely Places to Seek Reform

Huffington Post:

New Mexico: Outside Spending & Coordination

“New Mexico was one of the worst-prepared states for the altered campaign finance landscape wrought by the Citizens United decision. The state’s laws had no legal definition or standard for either independent expenditures or coordination between an independent group and a candidate or party committee. And, like every other state, New Mexico did not require disclosure of donors to nonprofits active in electoral politics.”

Arkansas: Ethics & Disclosure

“Arkansas voters this year passed a ballot initiative with significant campaign finance and ethics reforms, including a total ban on direct corporate contributions to candidate campaigns. The state-level reform group Regnat Populus hopes to build on this success with an initiative in 2016 to expand these reforms and enact new disclosure rules for independent groups.”

Missouri: Contribution Limits, Gifts & Disclosure

“These outsized contributions [from a Missouri mega-donor] that came after Missouri ended its campaign contribution limits are sparking action.

“Democratic lawyer Brad Ketcher said he will propose a constitutional amendment for the ballot that would re-establish contribution limits for legislative candidates, place limits on lobbyist gifts and impose strong coordination rules on independent spending.”

“The issue is gaining attention from Republicans as well. Republican state Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Jefferson City) introduced legislation to require disclosure of dark money spent by nonprofit groups on elections, ban lobbyist gifts and increase campaign finance disclosure.”

Maine & Connecticut: Public Financing

“In Maine, this means lawmakers would be allotted public funds in an amount appropriate to counteract the dramatic increase in independent spending since Citizens United. Maine Citizens for Clean Elections is working to get an initiative on the ballot in the next election.

“Connecticut legislators are expected to tackle similar fixes, according to groups involved in reform efforts.”