Thursday, July 06, 2006

Campaign Finance Law Challenged

Remember that great campaign finance law passed during the landmark 2005 session? Remember the public financing part of it? Well, hold everything.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and several minor party candidates said Thursday they filed a federal lawsuit claiming Connecticut's campaign finance law violates the candidates' rights to free speech and association.
Democratic and Republican candidates would qualify for public financing of $25,000 for a House race, $85,000 for a Senate contest and $3 million to seek the governor's office if they meet private fundraising thresholds of $5,000 for a House campaign, $15,000 for a Senate race and $250,000 for governor.
"The Connecticut legislators who drafted this law in the dead of night knew that they were creating a system that would perpetuate two classes of political parties that are separate and unequal," said S. Michael Derosa, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and the Green Party's candidate for secretary of the state. (AP)

How did I know Mike DeRosa would be involved somehow... Sigh.

There's a fine line between encouraging complete equality and opening the door to a whole slew of minor candidates like DeRosa who would, even if fully funded, draw only about 5-10% of the vote: if that.

Yes, the thresholds are a little extreme. They should be lower, or some sort of sliding scale should be introduced (get 10% of the signatures, get 10% of the money). But full equality would just be a funding nightmare. We just couldn't do it.

I have a feeling that this law will be struck down. If so, it may time to look at other ways of leveling the playing field in the state.


"ACLU files lawsuit challenging campaign finance law." Associated Press 6 July, 2006.


Chris MC said...

On the subject of how the Governor is funding her campaign, Mayor Malloy fired this at Rell today:

I am deeply troubled by Governor Rell's conduct.
Months ago, we learned that the Governor's Budget Chief called the Speaker of the House attempting to squash an investigation into the illegal conduct in the Rell administration. We gave Governor Rell the benefit of the doubt.
Today, we learn that Governor Rell herself has threatened both the Speaker of the House and the chairman of the legislative committee investigating the matter, attempting to thwart an investigation that is clearly needed.
For this Governor to threaten legislators into keeping quiet, after vowing to bring a new age of ethics and reform to Connecticut, is heartbreaking.
This is all happening, by the way, in an administration that lacks any real oversight or accountability.
Rell's so-called independent ethics czar resigned months ago -- to be replaced by someone who reports directly to Lisa Moody. The absurdity of that arrangement is obvious to anyone.

Chris MC said...

Governor Rell's personal involvement in trying to suppress Legislative attempts to perform their proper oversight function is not justifiable on grounds of political partisanship.

Threatening the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the GAE with disclosure of wrongdoing demonstrates just how cynical the Governor really is about "ethics" in Hartford.

One of two things is true about Governor Rell:
1. She has personal knowledge of wrongdoing in the capitol but, because of her desire to avoid a pitched investigation of her Administration, beginning with her Chief of Staff, she has kept quiet about it. So she is knowingly withholding information of wrongdoing.
2. She has no personal knowledge of wrongdoing in the capitol but, because of her desire to avoid a pitched investigation of her Administration, beginning with her Chief of Staff, she is abusing her office in a vain attempt to strongarm the Legislature into neglecting its oversight function.

Either way, two inferences are unavoidable:
1. Lisa Moody is guilty.
2. Governor Jodi Rell knows it.

The True Gentleman said...

Inference #3: Certain Dems are also guilty of similar conduct.

Chris MC said...

TG -
Your inference #3 is predicated on Governor Rell having personal knowledge of wrongdoing.

The Speaker doesn't appear to be concerned about that.

So if she does have such knowledge, and hasn't reported the violation then, regardless of party affiliation, she is complicit in covering that up as well as what Lisa Moody is guilty of.

KerryGuy said...

Absolutely the law will be struck down. Next, the Lobbyist Association will join the suit. We will never have an election under this law, period. And since VT, the shining example always cited by good government types, just did away with their public funding of elections, my guess is we never see taxpayer financed elections.

cgg said...

Inference #3: Certain Dems are also guilty of similar conduct.

Which doesn't make Moody any less guilty.

Chris MC said...

It should be only a matter of time before someone outside of the blogosphere wants to know what Jodi Rell knows, how she knows it and when she found out.

The True Gentleman said...

I never said that it makes Moody allegedly less-guilty, only that it leads to a third inference...

bluecoat said...

Rell hasn't done anything because this hasn't been hit hard enough in the press or by the public; she only moves to avert crises, to win her way and to keep her snowy white image....

BRubenstein said...

crooks,theives,liars and political prostitutes aren't in only one party...

Derby Conservative said...

But what does any of this have to do with campaign finance?

Speaking of which Ghengis, the thresholds are just fine at the level they're at. If a State Rep candidate can't raise $5k, then they have no business running for that office. That is a clear indicator that they have no support.

Chris MC said...

DC -
You're kinda right of course. But recall that the efforts of Ms. Moody were perhaps correlated to the pending legislation restricting fundraising; and the Governor's pandering on the issue to the affect [sic] that she would remain above it all and not accept money from lobbyists, etceteras, the skillful way she exploited the rift between the House and the Senate Democrats on the campaign finance legislation now (again) in question....

Anonymous said...

Say what you will about Mike DeRosa - his lack of political instincts, his inability to run a campaign, his poor leadership of the Green Party - but jeez, he's willing to stand up against a law that clearly discriminates against third parties, and prevents alternative opinions from reaching the ballot. The problem is equating money with speech, and it runs contrary to the Founding Fathrs "decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

Had M Jodi Smell and her Repub/Dem cronies passed a legit campaign finance law, she wouldn't be in the hot water she is in with Lisa Moody - this is trouble of their own making.

To say that a state rep candidate who can't raise $5,000 has no support is to once again equate money with speech. How is it that the Secretary of the State sets one bar for ballot access, the polling institutions set another, unknown, unaccountable bar for electoral legitimacy and then the Legislature sets a third, almost impossible bar for financial legitimacy.

Suppose the Working Families Party used the campaign finance law as collateral, and found a bank (or union or welathy individual) to loan them $400,000 to collect 200,000 signatures ($2 a signature is reasonable) and obtained the $1.2 million in state funding. Boy, the Dems and Repubs probably didn't envision that.

Where there is a will, there is a way, and this law is unfair. As much as I hate to quote DeRosa, he is right that the law is designed to perpetuate a two-party monopoly. Coke and Pepsi both taste like malted battery acid.

Anonymous said...

The worst part of the campaign finance law is that it legislates the value of an elected office and sets a threshhold on what a vote is worth. If we extrapolate from the new law, votes in Hartford's 5th district, that of grand doyenne Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey, cost a baseline of $1.50 per vote. That figure comes from her 2004 vote totals, where she won her seat with 3,570 votes (to libertarian Richard Lion's 350 or so challenge votes). This year, she is running unchallenged (which isn't good for her neighborhood), and she will raise a minimum of $25,000, if not more. For what? A contender would have to raise $5,000 from the poorest neighborhood in the country to contest Kirkley-Bey, and wouldn't have a chance because of the entrenched Democratic machine.

Clearly, her Democratic leadership has solved the drug addiction, homelessness, prostitution, illiteracy and extreme poverty in her district. The amount of money wasted in a race like this is unfathomable, and all who signed off on the legislation should be ashamed for tilting the table towards incumbency.

This capaign finance law changes the locks on the doors to make them look friendlier, but there's still the same repression of more voices and choices for voters.

Anonymous said...

Derby Conservative - That's just the point. Raising $5k for state rep (and going upwards from there for higher offices) should be the threshold for all candidates to qualify for public financing, not just for Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, the new public financing law requires minor party candidates to also gather a gazillion signatures to qualify for public financing.

There should be a single threshold that all candidates meet to qualify for public financing. As you point out, the law sets a significant fundraising threshold. It also requires that money to be raised in relatively small amounts and from in-district donors. As a result, it is a pretty good method of preventing crank candidates from qualifying for public financing.

The additional signature requirement for minor party candidates is nothing more than a blatant attempt by the Democrats and Republicans to shut those minor party candidates out of the process.

For the record, (yeah I know, don't say "for the record" if you're posting anonymously,) I'm not a member of the Green Party. I also think Mike DeRosa is one of the more foolish people I've ever met. Even with the high bar for minor party candidates, the new public financing system is a lot better deal for those candidates than the current campaign finance laws.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this, but I used to work with Mike DeRosa in a non-political capacity over a year ago and we had no idea how involved he was in Green Party politics. What's his deal? I'm just curious, but it does sound like everyone comes up with the same impression of him that we all did.

Anonymous said...

I guess The ACLU will be very busy in the months ahead. I heard they are thinking about getting involved in The Town of Washington with the anti war crowd who held a"untown meeting" because the Board of Selectman voted down their request to have a Special Town meeting on July 3rd. So they had a meeting anyway and they are planning to bring a bunch of names back to the Board of Selectman and again try to get this on an agenda.

I think The ACLU should stay out of it and as far as this campaign Finance Law sounds like a Green Party Manuever as is The Town of Washington deal along with the Liberal Dems.