Common Cause Hails Rejection of Democratic Governors Challenge to Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Laws

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  • Dale Eisman

Common Cause and other campaign finance reform advocates have won an important victory in Connecticut, where a federal judge on Tuesday rejected a Democratic Party group’s attempt to sidestep a tough state law on political spending.


U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall refused to block state authorities from enforcing Connecticut’s disclosure and coordination laws, effectively rejecting allegations by the Democratic Governors Association that the laws infringe on free speech rights. The judge said the DGA lacks standing to challenge Connecticut’s coordination law because the group’s claim that the state will investigate and prosecute it for coordinating with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign is speculative.


The Court also denied the DGA’s motion for a preliminary injunction to overrule the state laws’s definition of “expenditure; Hall made clear that the definition and disclosure requirements are constitutional.


“We are pleased that the DGA did not succeed in undermining Connecticut’s strong disclosure and coordination laws,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause’s senior vice president for strategy and programs. Common Cause lobbied for passage of those laws, which Malloy supported and signed.


Malloy is seeking a second term under Connecticut’s “Clean Elections” law, which allows participating candidates to finance their campaigns with a combination of small donations from individuals and grants from a special public fund. The law limits coordination between participating candidates and “independent expenditure” groups like the DGA that want to raise and spend money – often raised from anonymous donors — on the candidate’s behalf.


Malloy has been a prolific DGA fundraiser. The party groups had asked Judge Hall to rule that the state cannot investigate whether his DGA fundraising and other activities are being coordinated with his official campaign, a potential violation of state law.


“We are grateful to the attorneys at the Campaign Legal Center for their expertise on disclosure laws and their work on the amici brief that they submitted on behalf of Common Cause of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the League of Women Voters of Connecticut,” Hobert Flynn said.

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.