Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rell Proposes Full Public Financing of State Campaigns

Yes, you read that right.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has made a dramatic offer to revive stalled campaign finance legislation, proposing full public financing of campaigns for offices ranging from the General Assembly to governor beginning in 2010.

With only days remaining in the legislative session, Rell's staff promised legislators that the governor would drop her opposition to public financing if lawmakers accept her call for strict limits on contributions from state contractors, lobbyists and political action committees. (Pazniokas)

Can anyone tell me why this is bad? Limiting contributions from contractors, lobbyists and PACs sounds, well, ideal. Democrats and other supports of public funding, however, are a bit suspicious at the turnaround:

"What is the governor's [motive] in this? That's really the question," said House Speaker James A. Amann, D-Milford. "Is it political, or is it pure?" (Pazniokas)
"I hope to be proven wrong, but I am wary of last-minute deals supported by historic opponents of real campaign finance reform," [executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group Tom] Swan said.

It does seem a little... odd. But so far, a catch is not forthcoming. There are two possibilities here. You decide which makes the most sense:

1. Governor Rell has decided that the only way to get her limitations on contractor, lobbyist and PAC contributions through a very resistant legislature full of politicians addicted to those sources of revenue would be to offer public funding, which she previously opposed, as a compromise. This isn't entirely out of character for her: when backed into a corner, she does tend to want to compromise her way out.

2. This is part of some evil GOP conspiracy to take over the state and quite possibly kill puppies.

My instinct is to look this compromise over carefully, first, and then, if all seems to be above-board, take it! A better offer is probably not forthcoming.

Pazniokas, Mark. "Rell Offers Reform Package." Hartford Courant 2 June, 2005.


stomv said...

Just out of curiousity...

how much money from state contractors + lobbyists + PACs goes to Dems? To GOPers? Do her ethics convienently help the GOP fundraising machine relative to the Dems?

Genghis Conn said...

I know that Democrats get a LOT of money from lobbyists and PACs--but so do Republicans.

Maybe the intention here is to make GOP candidates competitive in a race against Democratic incumbents.

stomv said...

I won't claim it is her intention -- but it's always easy to take the philosophical/ethical/moral high road when you have something to gain directly.

MikeCT said...

The reservations I have heard from Dems about banning donations from specific types of people and organizations are about the constitutionality of these bans. Not being familiar with the legal and constitutional issues, I can't comment on the validity of these claims.

Genghis Conn said...


I've heard the same thing about the possibility of, say, contractor or lobbyist bans being unconstitutional. Since giving money is regarded as "political speech" (I still don't buy that) and is protected... it may not be legal.

Which makes this even odder for Rell. She may lose what she wants in the courts and be stuck with full public funding of campaigns.

MikeCT said...

Well, now that I think about this some more, I'm puzzled about the constitutional issues and why a ban on lobbyist or contractor contributions would be necessary. My guess is that the constitutional issues are not so much with the general "money as speech" issue, but with singling out lobbyists and contractors for exclusion. But if campaigns for legislators AND the Governor are *fully* publicly financed, then there are no private contributions to exclude - except for candidates who choose not to participate in the public financing. So what are we banning? Maybe the Gov doesn't fully fund them, or the ban is for campaigns that choose not to accept public financing?

FrankS said...

Rell is offering little, as any outright ban is sure to be struck down (That was the Buckley Case) and money has already been given for 2006 elections.

It's interesting though, if she's looking at running against

Blumenthal - No campagin fund, but he hasn't accepted PAC, lobbyist or contractor money in any race.

Bysiewicz, DeStefano & Malloy - have taken money already.

She's probably just distancing herself from Rowland and challenging the declared candidates to support the idea, since it's unlikly the legisation could be enforced before 2006.

If she personally adopted this standard, assuming she declares herself a candidate, without legislation then it would mean something.

CT05 Admin said...

This is an attempt to kill the legislation on the table and avoid responsibility for doing it.

The Governor is utterly insincere on this. The fact is that with just days to go in the session, putting new legislation through the process of committee reviews is physically impossible. And nobody wants to go into special session this summer.

It is nothing but a public relations maneuver. This is the same position she took earlier in the session, with the same intent - kill campaign finance reform that, according to Common Cause, would make Connecticut the most progressive on this issue in the country.

The earlier posts are correct: the Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot restrict spending. That includes special interests as well as political parties and individuals.

The proposal is not an honest one.

mccommas said...

I hope the above post it true. But a real Republican would not have calculated and spun the issue this way. Rell has proven herself to be a RINO. She worries to much about what the Hartford Courant Editorial Board thinks and not enough about what her base thinks.

alberthaanstra said...

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Groetjes Albert