Reformers Urge Democratic Governors to Withdraw Challenge to Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Law

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  • Dale Eisman

In a letter to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, head of the DGA, the organizations asserted that a lawsuit filed by the DGA last week puts the governors in league with efforts “by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to eviscerate campaign finance laws.”

The federal lawsuit seeks to protect Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s ability to raise money for the DGA, including some the DGA would spend in so-called “independent expenditures” to support his reelection campaign.

Connecticut’s campaign finance laws were overhauled in the wake of a pay-to-play scandal that sent former Gov. John Rowland in prison in 2005. The state’s “Citizens’ Election Program” permits candidates to run on small contributions from individuals combined with grants from unclaimed assets.

Rather than pursuing litigation attacking that system, “the Democratic Governors Association should be standing with reform Democrats in the vitally important efforts to prevent corporations, big donors and other special interests from completely dominating our political system,” the groups asserted.

“The success of the Citizens’ Election Program will be derailed if Connecticut candidates coordinate and raise large contributions for Super PACs and groups like the DGA to be spent on their elections,” the reform groups argued.“Similarly, if candidates are allowed to solicit money from prohibited sources that is used to support ads by outside groups favoring those candidates, our campaign finance laws will be fundamentally undermined.”

The letter’s signers included Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Media and Democracy/Progressive Inc., Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Democracy 21, Demos, the League of Women Voters of the U.S., Public Campaign, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.

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.