When "Independent" Expenditures Aren't

Posted by Karen Hobert Flynn on April 24, 2014


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Let me get this straight, the DGA has a right to call money raised by the Governor and spent on his behalf "independent?"

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) filed suit in federal court yesterday against Connecticut's State Election Enforcement Commission alleging that Connecticut's strong campaign finance laws interfere with their First Amendment right to spend millions of dollars in so-called "independent expenditures" in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

The problem for the DGA is that Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut served as its Finance Chair in 2011 and helped them rake in more than $20 million; and at least $1.4 million of that came from Connecticut donors. So if the DGA spends millions on behalf of Malloy when he runs for Governor, can they say with a straight face that these expenditures are "independent?"

Of course they can't. Because if Malloy is raising money for the DGA and then they turn around and spend it on his behalf, that is called "coordination" and by definition, it is not "independent." According to the Connecticut Mirror, both the DGA and Malloy have used the same consulting firm, Global Strategy Group. Global Strategy Group has done polling for the DGA and Roy Occhiogrosso is a former staffer of the Governor's and he is now a Global employee and adviser to Malloy. If activities are coordinated between a campaign and another political entity, then it is not "independent" under federal or state law.

The DGA does not have a First Amendment right to break campaign finance laws.

Common Cause Connecticut and their ally Connecticut Citizen Action Group have called on Governor Malloy to tell the DGA to withdraw their lawsuit.

Malloy has been a champion of campaign finance reform and credited Connecticut's landmark Citizens' Election program for helping him have clean resources to compete against a millionaire in the 2010 primary and a millionaire in the general election.

There is more at stake here for Malloy. This lawsuit could pave the way for Malloy's millionaire opponent Tom Foley to be able to run under Connecticut's public financing program and then give millions of his own money to two independent expenditure groups, one of them run by his own treasurer, and those groups could then spend millions on Foley's behalf. Of course, we all know that wouldn't be "independent" spending either -- but that is the convoluted logic at play here.

Call Governor Malloy today at 1-800-406-1527 and tell him to ask the DGA to drop their lawsuit!

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Disclosure

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