The Legislature’s rejection of the destruction of the Citizens’ Election Program is a step in right direction
- Cheri Quickmire, David Vance
Dangers for program lurk in the details
Connecticut reform advocates applaud the legislature for rejecting the proposal included in the earlier budget to eliminate the Citizens’ Election Program in the proposed compromise budget and Governor Malloy for vetoing that heinous proposal. “We are pleased to see that legislative leaders have rejected the all-out attack on CEP, which if it had been eliminated would have resulted in more corruption and increased the role of outside dirty money,” said Tom Swan, Executive Director of CT Citizen Action Group. “We couldn’t believe that such a radical change in how we run elections so close to the 2018 cycle would be seriously considered as part of the budget. We are very happy to see this vital program saved”.
Advocates continue to be concerned about possible provisions that are clearly designed to protect incumbents and to encourage shady behavior by campaigns by restricting the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s investigative and enforcement capacity. “People are trying to include these rats in the budget to protect incumbents and to limit accountability for public – proposals that didn’t pass through the regular legislative session,” said Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director, Common Cause in Connecticut.
It is irresponsible and shortsighted to attack the program. Specific attacks include:
- Compressed timelines and smaller grants for later qualifying candidates – this is incumbent protection. It is harder for first time candidates to raise qualifying funds, especially in primaries;
- Increased donation limit to $250.00 – weakens role of small donors and makes it easier for people with rich friends to qualify;
- Increased qualifying limits by inflation – skews the system towards people with means and away from working/lower income people;
- Arbitrary timelines into elections investigations without additional resources are clearly designed to lessen enforcement of our laws and let election law violators run out the clock.
Scandals are sure to follow when political contributions from special interest once again become the coin of the realm in Hartford. Sacrificing clean elections to reach a budget deal is irresponsible. We know how that story ends and it does not end well for the citizens of Connecticut. We call on the legislature and Governor Malloy to reject these attacks on our democracy.