Thursday, December 01, 2005

Campaign Finance Reform Passes House

House Approves Historic Measure 82-65

It's done.

The Connecticut House of Representatives passed one of the strongest campaign finance packages in the nation late last night. Here's the roll call vote. The bill bans state contractors and lobbyists from making contributions to political campaigns, ends so-called "ad books" and creates a public financing system for state campaigns.

An attempt by Democrats to strip the public financing element from the bill failed by 79-66 vote. (AP)

Gov. Rell has said that she will sign the bill.

Rell called the bill "truly historic" and said she was looking forward to signing it. She had been pushing lawmakers to pass a bill after they failed to reach a deal during the regular legislative session earlier this year.

"The people of Connecticut want these reforms. They want to remove the corrosive, corrupting influence of special interest money in our elections, and we can finally reward them with this landmark legislation," Rell said. (AP)

A quick look at the roll call shows that most Republicans voted against the bill, which is amazing for a measure that would largely benefit them. I could only find three that voted for it. The governor had promised support from her own party, but apparently was unable to deliver.

Many Democrats voted against the bill, including my own rep, Steve Jarmoc (D-59). Of course, now that public financing is in place, it'll be easier (I hope) to get rid of him.

The legislation will continue to be revised and retooled by the legislature:

But that doesn't mean the end to the campaign finance reform debate in Connecticut. After much discussion about loopholes in the legislation, lawmakers promised to return during the regular session in February to make further changes. (AP)

The bill isn't perfect. Third parties will suffer, the implementation date is after the upcoming election cycle and it's not entirely clear that it will dramatically decrease the influence of lobbyists, contractors and money in campaigns. I'm also a little suspicious of the speed in which it was done after months of hemming and hawing.

Yet this is also the strongest such legislation in the country, and it's an excellent place to start. We can build on this legislation in future sessions, and serve as a model for the nation.

The legislature should be proud of the work it has accomplished this year. With the passage of this bill, the historic 2005 legislative session, which saw the passage of a minimum wage increase, civil unions and now historic campaign finance reform, finally comes to a close. I have been very hard on the Democrats for stalling on this bill, but in the end they got it done. Bravo.

I just saw MikeCT's analysis of the situation posted in the comment section of the post just below this one. Check it out.

Update: Register your opinion! Vote in the new poll on the sidebar beneath the maps.

"Legislature passes campaign finance reform bill." Associated Press 1 December, 2005.


MikeCT said...

A highlight of my previous comments on the "no" votes:

Comparing the "no" list to Genghis' list of "races to watch" in 2006 (which was based on tight votes in 2004), here is a list of incumbents who could be vulnerable if their opponents focus on their refusal to reform state government:
Rep. Michael A. Caron (R), Rep. Hank Bielawa (R), Rep. Mike Alberts (R), Rep. Anne Ruwet (R), Rep. John Harkins (R), Rep. John "Jack" Stone (R).
Cathy Cook (R), another one on Genghis' list, was absent. I'd also add Rep. Bob Farr (D-West Hartford) and others to the vulnerable list if they get strong opponents.

Anonymous said...

The Connecticut Association of Lobbyists is expected to vote on the following resolution on December 8:
"The legislature has adopted this bill today as a significant step toward 'cleaning up state government.' Given the importance the lobbying community places on ethical behavior within the lobbying profession, we urge our members to comply with the provisions of the act immediately, two years prior to the effective date, in order to make certain that Connecticut's citizens know that the lobbying community shares their desire for the highest possible ethical standards in state government."

Although it was offered somewhat tongue in cheek, it looks like it may be adopted.

Independent1 said...

Wow, what a conglomeration of every idea, without throwing out any of the "bad stuff." Example: You get to keep PACs, but can't accept contributions from them. Where's that money going? Dinners at Hot Tomatos? The bill is riddled with stuff like that. It's no wonder they ran it through without any public hearings/comments, etc. Also, given the limits on expenditures, how is any state-wide candidate going to get on NY media without breaking the bank? The bill's a start, but boy it needs work.

Genghis Conn said...

Agreed about holes in the bill. Getting the thing in place at all was the big challenge. In future sessions, it can be changed and amended to close loopholes.

We do have to remember that something like this has essentially never been done before. It's going to take some work to straighten out all the kinks.

Anonymous said...

Mike CT:

When the buzz starts getting going that this will reduce funds available for state troopers and education grants so there is money available to pay for negative ads, I doubt the "no" votes on the bill will pay any price at all.

This is just the incumbent and newspaper monopoly protection act. Right now the Demos will control the state senate until the glaciers melt since no challenger can win a race spending $85K, you can't knock on enough doors in that big a district.

same as it ever was, same as it ever was

Anonymous said...

The lobbyist association has come to an agreement, effective upon signage, to make the pertinent language effective immediately. Also, I know numerous firms have placed bans on their lobbyists from contributing at any level until things settle down.

Suprisingly, Gov Rell actually lost her House Caucus votes, according to rumor, members were upset with her lobbying tactics...just imagine if she had a PAC to empty!

Anonymous said...

Why should a House R have voted yes? The party position and rank and file voters are against public finance, the spending limit in a house race is high enough to permit upsets (since you can meet a high % in that level face to face, need less media), and 1199 was left alone to do its thing.

At least the Senate R's got more incumbency protection

Independent1 said...

I saw this in the Bangor Me paper when I was (non-pc) deer hunting in Maine this year. It's a year out and they already have eight folks looking to dip into the pot.

Everyone holds Maine up as a shining example, but if you put in realistic "minimum support" that will allow third party candidates in, public financing will break the bank pretty quick.

Genghis Conn said...

It isn't a good sign that the governor apparently has more pull with the Democrats than with her own party. I'm not sure whether that's bad news for her or for the CT GOP, though.

Anonymous said...

The campaign finance reform bill reforms absolutley nothing that needs to be reformed in stae government but it is nice window dressing for Rell and the legislators - Democrats, and a couple of Republicans - to pass on to the public. The dissapointment appears to be Chris caruso but I gues that is all he could get.

FrankS said...

Some credit here has to be given to Amann and Williams for passage, though I still believe the Vermont cases will change the public financing of campaigns.

Rell's lack of involvement is clear, in failing to infulence members to support the measure, she's more of a lame duck governor.

Dan said...

I'm uneasy about the lack of a public debate about this legislation. Like the federal McCaine-Fingold "campaign finance reform" Connecticut's "reform" is sure to have many unintended consequences, such as stifling free speech rights and inviting litigation.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

The following article probably dooms mayor boughtons chances to be LG with rell. and you though new haven had problems!!!!

new world said...

Can someone please explain why lobbyists are banned because of their improper influence, but legislators like David McCluskey can be employed by the state employees union and this is not considered an improper influence? I don't see that there could be a more obvious conflict of interest. In both the case of McCluskey and a contractor, they each make a living on the basis of their relationship with state government, only in the case of McCluskey he can actually vote on the bills. How much money does McCluskey get every year from union donations? Could he have ever won his seat without their support? Does this man represent the unions or his district when something like prevailing wage comes to a vote? Why was there no effort on either side to prevent this?

Anonymous said...

All Rell is doing is distancing herself from Rowland in any manner of appearance possible - Williams and Amann played her well since the money will stil flow like it always has - it's a shell agme

Anonymous said...


Like many "reofms" this will be very popular until it goes into effect. So Rell will ride the good vibes for '06. The GOP legislators who correctly anticipate a backlash in '08 and '10 are positioned on the right side of this. In those years Rell will not be on the ballot, and probably will blame Amann and Williams for the devilish details, since they did not pass "her" bill in the '05 regular session.

lame duck had nothing to do with this

Anonymous said...

Who is kidding whom to Anonymous (12:04) Jodi Rell is going to have a long road to go against the Democrats with little support from the GOP in her ongoing attempt to distance herself from Johnny. She defintiely wasn't part of it but her kid did benefit from it when the State Police did whatever magic it was they did when the charges against her kid fooling around on Candlewood Lake went away - Who did that? Lady Jo MacKenzie - we'll never know because someday staewide GOP political hopeful Kevin O' Connor is too embarassed to do his job that he never did.

Blue in CD2 said...

So is this going to become the first notch in Rell's gubinatorial belt?

How much of the credit will she take, and how much will she leave for the House/Senate D's and R's?

I predict at least one more attempt at a sweeping referendum before the summer. Maybe a return to the issue of privatization of public programs.

I think Rell needs at least two or three major accomplishments to tout during her re-election campaign, and it seems that she just got her first.

Blue in CD2 said...

One more thing I forgot -

What are some opinions on this reform being challenged in court?

I think we will be seeing a legal challenge come sooner than we think.

I havent had the chance to check out the real meat and potato's of the bill, so im not sure how clear the language is and how far-reaching some candidates can take thier new financing options.

Anonymous said...

rehashing Rowland is like soooo Bill Curry...worked like a charm for him didn;t it

Take a hint from your lobby group...Moveon

ThemDems said...

A state Rep. can work for a union and still vote on union matters? I don't think so, if that were the case I'm sure the media would have a field day with that. Sounds like a typical angry Republican.

Anonymous said...

"David McCluskey (D-West Hartford) was elected to the Connecticut House of Representative from the 20th Assembly District in 1998.

...McCluskey was the Director of Public & Political Affairs for the Connecticut State Police Union from 1989-1997. He was the Staff Representative for the University Health Professionals, representing the nurses at UCONN Health Center from 1997-2001. Currently, he is the Education Coordinator for the Connecticut State Employees Association. Among his community service activities, he is a Vice President of the Greater Hartford Labor Council..."


ThemDems, I guess the media musta passed on this one, huh?

Nutmeg Nut said...

Chris Donovan did it, too, at the "Four Cs" community college union.

"I'm sure the media would have a field day with that"???

Wake up, folks.

ThemDems said...

Well it might be true that someone like McKulski can serve but I don't think he can vote on things directed at unions. He probably advocates his stuff, which is legal in my view but I don't think he can vote. I don't think the media missed anything here becasue the union-busting media would have questioned him on this if there was a problem.

Kerry Guy said...

It's not like McCluskey and Donovan are lawyers who can get no-show jobs with big firms. In a part-time legislature, people need to make ends meet.

Anonymous said...

David McCluskey votes on labor issues all the time; which is fine...these people are allowed to have jobs outside of their position, in fact, in a part time legislature it's required. Does this mean lawyers can't vote on constiuitional issues? Doctors, who are elected officials, can't vote on health care issues? McCluskey was elected by an electorate that knows who he works for...naturally you have to assume he advocates for what he knows and believes in. Isn't this the crux of democracy?

Also, the whole water ski incident is so ridiculously old...really? that's the best argument we have against jodi? her son, over 10 years ago, was on a stolen watercraft...that's the best we got? Come on people...lets do better than this.

Anonymous said...

At least there is no one at the legislature who introduces bills to directly benefit their employers. Oops. Well, I’m glad there is no one who is paid to be a fundraiser for a non-profit and uses their public office to solicit from lobbyists for that non-profit. Darn, that’s not true either.

Anonymous said...

"Look for the union label...., whenever you buy a state legislator...."

new world said...

Anonymous, a lawyer voting on a constitutional issue that might impact some aspect of his work is a lot different than a union executive voting on issues that directly benefit his union. Is there any doubt that when McCluskey casts a vote on a state union issue that it is not intended to benefit his employer? I doubt even he would deny it. Why then are we now saying that contractors and lobbyists are corrupting the process, but union leaders are not?

If what another poster said about Donovan being employed by a union as well is true, then in his role as House Majority Leader he is representing the interests of many more people than just those in his non-competitive district. The electorate has no recourse in this case, and the power of the advocacy he might provide is disproportionate to the number of people who benefit from it. This is literally the definition of a special interest hijacking the process. I disagree with you that this is the crux of democracy. I think it is a terrible distortion of it.

David McCluskey said...

In response to New World, whoever that courageous soul is, I have never denied /hidden the fact that I have worked for state employee unions. It is on the legislative website and my campaign literature.

I have NEVER served on the Labor & Public Employees Committee which has purview over state employee issues; NEVER served on the Appropriations Committee which has purview over the state budget; NEVER served on the Education Committee which has purview over the UCONN Health Center since I used to work for the UCONN Health Professionals Union); NEVER served on the Public Safety Committee which has purview over the CT State Police since I used to work for the State Police Union. The State Ethics Commission did not say I had to do this nor did it even advise me to do it. I did it on my own to avoid potential appearance of conflicts of interest.

I don't take gifts/food etc. from ANY lobbyists including labor lobbyists. If I attend labor OR business receptions, I reimburse for the costs associated.

The purpose behind having a part-time legislature, aside from reducing its power vis a vis the Executive Branch and reducing the volume of law (NOT always a bad thing), is to utilize the professional expertise of the legislators WITHOUT it personally benefiting the legislators. I drive a '95 Saturn that I bought used.

I sought an advisory opinion from the State Ethics Commission before I took office on what is and is not permissible for me to vote on as a state employee union staff person.

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe even Republicans and moderate Democrats will say I tell both sides of a state employee labor issue, not just the one favorable to unions when asked about an issue on the floor or in committee all the while advancing the interests/causes I have believed in since I walked picket lines with my dad in the 1960s when he was on strike as a toolmaker at Colt's Firearms.

I reserve the right to advance issues I believe in just as much as I defend the right of my friend Brian O'Connor to do so as a staff person for that right wing Rowland backer Larry McHugh, the head of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Years

Anonymous said...

Rep. McCluskey:

I presume that if a member of the Tomasso family won the Farmington state rep seat, you would have no problem with them voting on projects their firm was going to bid on?

I suppose it should just be up to the voters in Farmington whether to permit that, right?

Right? Boy would THAT be a nice Chistmas present!

BTW, nice touch that some liberals are still saying "Merry Christmas". I'm sure the CCLU lobbyist will straighten our friend from W. Htfd in due order.

Genghis Conn said...

Thanks for your comments, Rep. McClusky. These sorts of issues are why I sometimes think a full-time legislature would not be a bad thing.

MikeCT said...

The Republicans and cynics are out in force today on the blogs, trying to make sure that no one celebrates the historic victory we have won in campaign finance reform - not just a victory for Connecticut, but for the country. The opponents are flailing, now that they have lost the public, lost Rell, and even lost CT Conservative.

And the credit goes to the thousands of people who have written letters and e-mails and made calls for months and even years to get this done, as well as legislators - like Dave McCluskey - who have worked hard for years to build support among their colleagues. Special recognition must go to the member organizations of the Clean Up Connecticut campaign, particularly the CT Citizen Action Group, which has relentlessly run phone banks and organized visibility for months and months. This was a victory of organized people over organized money. Let's hope the 2008 elections will be the same.

MikeCT said...

The New Haven Independent reports on a little-noted provision of the bill that allows three municipalities to experiment with publicly financed elections, beginning with the next municipal elections.

Here's the excerpt from the official bill summary of what is required of the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC):

The bill requires the SEEC to establish a pilot program in up to three municipalities for public financing of campaigns for the following municipal offices: chief executive officer, municipal clerk, and municipal legislative body member. Participating candidates must agree to limit campaign fundraising and expenditures. Candidates choosing not to participate must abide by state campaign financing laws. The bill specifies that receiving public financing under the pilot program does not violate the state law’s prohibition against use of public funds (1) by incumbents, during the three months before the election, to mail or print flyers or other promotional materials to help their reelection or (2) during the five months before the election, for state or municipal promotional campaigns or advertisements that feature a candidate or promote his nomination or election.

The SEEC must establish an application procedure and selection criteria. It may not select a municipality unless its legislative body, or in the case of a municipality whose legislative body is a town meeting, its board of selectmen, consents to the participation. Each selected municipality must submit an implementation plan for the SEEC’s approval.

The SEEC must also study and make recommendations for public financing of municipal campaigns by January 2007.

Proud CT Republican said...

I just want to say thanks to Jodi Rell and CT Republicans for getting this reform passed.

This never would have happened without a Republican Governor, and the Republican Party in general.

This may be strange, but I think we might need to thank John Rowland too. Neither, Rell, nor this legislation, would have ever happened without him.

P.S. DeanFan84-- I voted for Bush twice. We won. You lost. Get over it.

Gabe said...

I've heard that Anonymous is skyrocketing up the list of most popular baby names for '05...

Gabe said...

Proud CT Republican -

Thank you John Rowland for being the most corrupt governor ever and helping get campaign finace passed.

Thank you to the three House Republicans who voted yes. And to the 40whatever that voted no.

PS Dean Fan isnt even on this thread!?!?!

PPS Clap hard enough and maybe President Bush will have won one of those elections...

Joe Jolly said...

I appreciate MikeCT pointing out the municipal language included in the bill. A small group of us down in New Haven have lobbied tirelessly over the last four years to just get the legislature to allow us the opportunity to create a municipal system (currently, a local system would possibly be in violation of state law). While this may seem like a relatively unimportant provision, those of us that have been fighting for this consider it a MAJOR victory!

DeanFan84 said...

Joe Jolly!

You should run for United States Senate against Revoltin' Joe Lieberman. Someone has to...

And if you do, women will vote for you based upon your charm and good looks. I'll vote for you based upon your age alone!
(If we send a 30 year old to the Senate, in 25-30 years CT we'll have the seniority that neither Joe, nor Chris Dodd will ever get....
Senate Majority Leader Joe Jolly, (D-CT), gotta love the sound of that.)

BTW, Money wouldn't be a problem, as MoveOn just announced that they will support a Democratic challenge to Joe. Read about it here.

And hey, if not you, what about Henry Fernandez? What's he been up to lately?

Thanks for your hard work on CFR. You should be proud of your efforts. I am.

Idiot CT Republican-- Finally, a CT Republican who admits to voting for Dumbya! What else will Rell and the Republicans take credit for? Civil Unions? LMAO.
Gabe and all, sorry I wasn't here earlier. I was out on a hot date.

Anonymous said...

DF, so how was Janeane Garafalo?

Lieberman will lose a CT primary or election when Rachel Hunter calls me and asks out on a date

Rachel Hunter said...


How about a romantic night of pizza and bowling?


Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight....

The legislature "cleaned up the system" but banning lobbyists from donating to candidates but those same lobbyists now can send a notice to his/her clients that tells them that Don Williams' PAC, for example, is having a fundraiser on a particular date and that it might be a good idea for the client to attend. With this PAC money Williams now can do "organizational activities" (including high priced polling, etc) on behalf of any Democratic Senatorial candidates. Sounds to me like they just shifted the power right to the leaders and didn't do anything to get rid of the influence of lobbyists.

If they REALLY wanted to clean up the system, they would have gotten rid of these PACs altogether.

Don't kid yourselves, people. They money and corrosive influences will still very much be alive and well in politics.

Anonymous said...

Wow, aren't those all the cool committees, David? Why are you up there then if you can't serve on any of the power committees? Is that good for your constituents?

I’m sure their glad that you can’t serve on the Education Committee because of your conflict of interest when your towns are struggling to get their share of education $$. Or is that Appropriations? Wait, you can’t serve on that either because of your conflict of interest. Why are you up there?

ThemDems said...

Bravo Rep. David McCLoskey!!!

First off it's great to have someone with your legislative experience join this board. Thank you for clearing the record. Republicans are Hell-Bent on smearing your record as an honest legislator just because you happen to work for a labor union representing the hard working men and women of our state. Thank you also for reaffirming my contention that you have never taken any politcal contributions from your union nor do you vote on matters directly related to your employer. It's these type of angry smear tactics by Republicans that have left a black mark on Connecticut's politcal system. It's people like you that will help remove corruption from Connecticut politics!

new world said...

Mr. McCluskey,
Thank you for your reply to my posting, I think that shows a great deal of class. I admire your passion for the issues you believe in, and it is refreshing that you participate in online discussions.

Nonetheless, I think you failed to address the point I was making, which is that regardless of how you cut it, a legislator who works for a state employee union is in a direct conflict of interest. No matter what committees you may excuse yourself from serving on, you are still a sitting legislator who votes on issues that benefit your employer. In Mr. Donovan’s case, his position as House Majority Leader allows him to influence the legislative process in a way that I feel is disproportionate to the power granted to him by the mandate of a single (non-competitive) district’s electorate. To put it simply, I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you or Mr. Donovan to vote in a way that acknowledges the competing necessities of the state’s overall well being when dealing with union issues. I think both of you would be compelled to vote with the unions regardless of what it might mean to the vast majority of Connecticut residents who are not members of SEIU or CSEA.

Furthermore, you say that you never take food from labor lobbyists, but do you turn down their PAC donations to your campaign? The answer is “no”. According to the 10/7/04 filing at the Secretary of State office, your campaign accepted thousands of dollars in PAC donations from AFSCME, AFL-CIO, UConn Professional Employees Association, and several other labor related PACs. I’m not saying that this is unethical or illegal or even wrong. You have the right to raise money according to the dictates of existing campaign finance law. What I think is wrong is to say that as a legislator who makes a living working for a state employee union and who receives a large portion of their campaign funds from state employee union PAC’s, you are somehow not representing a special interest in the legislature. My whole point to begin with was simply that if this campaign finance reform was intended to eliminate the influence of special interests, then how is it tenable to have legislators who work for an entity that benefits directly from their votes, and which sustain their political careers through political donations? With the loopholes built into the new campaign finance law, I would imagine that these labor PACs will continue to support you by donating to your hometown Democrat party and having them provide you with in-kind contributions. If the people of your district feel their needs are not represented, how will they able to compete with thousands of dollars being pumped in by labor unions from other towns, or the many out of district “volunteers” your campaign will have due to your union involvement? In my mind, this is not reform.

Please do not consider this an attack on you personally. The system is what it is, and I do not begrudge you your job, your position in government, or the way you run your campaigns. I just think the campaign finance reform argument has been intellectually dishonest for the reasons I've stated here.

Anonymous said...

The problem with McCluskey is not What he did or does as a rep but what he does as a union rep. When the government employees have better benefits and pay than the taxpayers paying for them well you know we get private industry job growth in the tank that DeStefano, who is supported by the unions, is blaming Rell for. The campaign fince isue is a sham - Rowland was a crook. Oh and Rachel, I'd rather go water skiing and name our kids anonymous

Dems in 06 said...

I got this article forwarded to me by the Malloy campaign, as I'm sure some of you all did as well. I thought this was sort of cool:

At one point, they called Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate and a supporter of public financing, and asked him to intercede with reluctant members of the Stamford delegation.

Malloy was seen on the House floor, talking to his local delegation.

from here

Good to see a candidate getting out and showing their support for something. I'm surprised Malloy isnt bringing up DeStefano's "I'm for finance reform but wouldnt give money back" blunder.

David McCluskey said...

The only thing more I can say to New World is that without having a full-time legislature in which outside employment is prohibited (and I am ambivalent about this) perceptions of and real conflicts of interest will always exist.

I do not believe my position as a staff person for a state employee union is that more problematic than that of an attorney, a doctor, a professor, a businessperson who serves in the general assembly and influences policy in their area of expertise. I have never had to vote on a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the state and CSEA. I have worked on bills that affect all state employee unions just like businesspersons (ie. how much corporations and wealthy people pay in taxes, how industries are regulated or how little regulatory agencies are funded), doctors, lawyers do in their policy areas.

I support being held to a higher standard as long as it applies to all legislators who have outside employment. If you want to discuss this in person after the holidays,I would be happy to do so.

Anonymous said...

Rep. McClusky, you have brought out the kryptonite to bloggers: "If you want to discuss this in person after the holidays,I would be happy to do so."

I think you are spot on on all your comments, especially about the professions of all legislators, not just those who work for labor organizations.

BTW - I would support a de jure full-time legislature instead of the current de facto one with staggered four-year terms.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the Courant Article as I had not picked up on the one year prior to election ban of Rell appearing in a TV Ad paid for by the voters. The day after she reluctantly announced her reelection, which she was holding off for the campaign finance legislation to pass in session but couldn't any longer because of her embarrassment with the press pushing her to decide or announce, she was on CT TV advertising CT as a place to do business - Art Diedrich used to do those ads - dumb on her part so the Dems probaly helped her

FrankS said...

How could you forget waste of money on the CT TV advertising our own state's vacation spots, travel safety or whatever. Though it nice to note that Diedrich is still involved.

Anonymous said...

So can anyone tell me how this cleans up campaign finance, when this whole bill is ripe with huge holes?

Joe Berenguer said...

Hi Friend! You have a great blog over here!
Please accept my compliments and wishes for your happiness and success!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
loans center
It covers loans center related subjects.
Have a great day!