CT Common Cause Calls for Reforms to Protect Public Financing from Outside Spending

CT News: “The Citizens’ Election Program was passed to stop the pay-to-play culture that dominated our campaign finance system when John G. Rowland served as governor. For several election cycles, the program worked well and candidates had the opportunity to run free of special interest money if they chose to do so.

“This cycle, outside money spent in the gubernatorial race and in one state Senate race, has weakened the law and we must strengthen the program to provide candidates additional resources to get their message out in the face of outside funders. We also have to block candidates from coordinating with outside spenders by raising money for these entities.”

This was released in response to a piece criticizing the public financing system from a conservative nonprofit.

CT News; “Ask the third party candidates how they feel about the public finance system, or the Republicans who couldn’t meet the state’s high barriers to entry in the primary and general election.

“It is full-blown hypocrisy for the Democrats to say they support clean and open elections and then behave the way they did this campaign cycle.

“Look at newly-elected state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., who took money from the taxpayer-funded campaign system, then proceeded to spend hundreds of thousands more thanks to the state party.”

ME Commission Seeks Additional Funding to Improve Disclosure Efforts, IT

Maine Sun Journal: “The request, included in a list of changes to Maine statute proposed by Maine Ethics Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne, would divert the entirety of state revenue from lobbyist registration fees to the commission.

“The commission receives half of all lobbying fees, and the other half goes to the state’s General Fund.”  This currently amounts to between $55,000 and $65,000 annually.

“’Businesses, nonprofits and others are subsidizing the general costs of Maine government — just for the privilege of petitioning the Legislature,’ Wayne said in the letter. Instead, the commission staff would like to propose that our agency receive the entire fee and use the increased revenue for [information technology] expenses to better disclose lobbying and campaign finance information to the public.”

WI Assembly Speaker Criticizes Ethics Board as “Dysfunctional,” Provides Little Detail

Marshfield News Herald: “The Republican Assembly Speaker [Robin Vos] has deemed the GAB ‘dysfunctional and called its director and general counsel, Kevin Kennedy, an ’embarrassment’ who ‘needs to be gone.’ His critique has been long on vitriol but short on specifics.

“Vos likes that the board, which the Legislature created in 2007, is led by six former judges appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms. But he feels these judges are being manipulated by Kennedy and other staff into serving as “a rubber stamp.” [Brackets added]

MO AG Limits Contributions from Interested Party, Bans From Employees in Response to Criticism

St.LouisPublicRadio:

  • “No donations from individuals or entities involved in cases “currently pending” before the attorney general’s office, or that “have been been resolved in the past 90 days.”
  • No donations “from lobbyists, attorneys and their law firms’’ who represent those individuals or entities.
  • No donations from anyone employed by Koster’s office, either as staff or as a contract worker.

“Koster said in a statement that he also will ‘no longer accept gifts of any value from registered lobbyists.’

“Koster is not imposing any limits on the size of his campaign contributions; he maintains that campaign-donation limits don’t work.”

This comes on the heels of a piece from the New York Times detailing a close relationship between Koster and lobbyists with gifts:

“A result is that the routine lobbying and deal-making occur largely out of view. But the extent of the cause and effect is laid bare in The Times’s review of more than 6,000 emails obtained through open records laws in more than two dozen states, interviews with dozens of participants in cases and attendance at several conferences where corporate representatives had easy access to attorneys general.

“Often, the corporate representative is a former colleague. Four months after leaving office as chief deputy attorney general in Washington State, Brian T. Moran wrote to his replacement on behalf of a client, T-Mobile, which was pressing federal officials to prevent competitors from grabbing too much of the available wireless spectrum.

“’As promised when we met the A.G. last week, I am attaching a draft letter for Bob to consider circulating to the other states,’ he wrote late last year, referring to the attorney general, Bob Ferguson.

“A short while later, Mr. Moran wrote again to his replacement, David Horn. “Dave: Anything you can tell me about that letter?” he said.

“’Working on it sir,’ came the answer. ‘Stay tuned.’ By January, the letter was issued by the attorney general largely as drafted by the industry lawyers.

“The exchange was not unusual. Emails obtained from more than 20 states reveal a level of lobbying by representatives of private interests that had been more typical with lawmakers than with attorneys general.”

AR Rep Who Ran Supporting Ethics Initiative Speaks about Campaign, The People’s Support for Reform

Every Voice: “We spoke with Rep. Warwick Sabin, a first-term, Democratic member of the Arkansas House of Delegates, who spearheaded the amendment and won a grassroots campaign against the big money interests that were invested in the status quo.

“Despite a well-funded opposition, Sabin found that everyday people supported what they saw as commonsense reforms. “’For a lot people, it was very intuitive,’ said Sabin. ‘I mean, there were people who didn’t know it was already legal for lobbyists to buy things for elected officials.” And people were already suspicious of big corporate contributions to local candidates. “When you have money that big, people understand that there’s something that person is expecting in return. And it’s suspicious when somebody wants to spend that much on a particular candidate.'”

MA Editorial Joins Gov’s Call for Capping Contributions by Campaign, Calls for Further Limits on Money

Enterprise News: “There’s a reason Massachusetts campaigns begin 14 months before Election Day. Unlike federal laws, which limit donations by election cycle, state law goes by the calendar year. That encourages campaigns to get donors to give the maximum amount the year before the election, then go after them again the next year. It also means that, for incumbents especially, the pursuit of campaign contributions goes on year in and year out.

“Baker has proposed removing the incentive to squeeze campaign donors early and often. He has called for capping individual contributions at $1,000 for the primary campaign and $1,000 for the general election.”

Editorial also supports Baker’s proposal to change the primary calendar and calls for changing municipal election days to the general election.