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.”

MO Leg. Introduces Lobbying, Disclosure Reforms as Outside Groups Push Gift, Contribution Limits

Columbia Tribune: “The bill filed Tuesday by Rowden would ban gifts, bar legislators from working as lobbyists for two years after they leave office and prevent them from soliciting lobbying jobs while in office. It also would require subcontracting lobbyists hired by principal lobbyists to disclose the actual client being served and make it illegal for the governor to offer jobs in exchange for votes on legislation. He addresses campaign finance issues by requiring that legislators and statewide elected officials disclose donations greater than $500 within 48 hours during legislative sessions. Rowden’s proposal would control anonymous campaign funding by not-for-profit companies by requiring any not-for-profit that spends more than 25 percent of its budget on politics to disclose all of its donors. The seven bills filed today, four by Rowden and three by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, cover many of the same issues but do not include a ban on lobbying gifts. Instead, Barnes filed bills for faster and more detailed reporting.”

The IRS or SEC Could Help Reduce Dark Money

This piece ties the two trends of relaxing campaign finance limits and disclosure laws and tightening voter id laws and explores potential solutions from the IRS and SEC

Salon: “What if Washington, D.C., adopted a comprehensive disclosure law? In 2010, Congress came within one vote of overcoming a party-line filibuster to pass the DISCLOSE Act. Since then, the need for improved transparency has only grown more urgent and it’d be nice if the Republican Congress would adopt a donor ID law. (Don’t hold your breath, said Demos’Liz Kennedy.)

“Better to lay your bet on the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is supposed to protect shareholders and the “integrity of the markets.” It could issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose political spending to shareholders.”

“Or maybe the taxman could help. The Internal Revenue Code does not require nonprofits organized under section 501(c)4 or 501(c)(6) to disclose their donors to the public. Yet, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act calls for exactly those groups to disclose their donors when they run “issue ads” that mention a candidate. Confusing? You bet! The law and the code don’t match up and things get even muddier when you factor in other federal agencies. As this chart demonstrates, the tangled web of campaign finance is enough to give even an offshore banker a migraine.