Can Elections be Clean? Senate & House Republicans Want to Bring Back Clean ElectionsJanuary 29, 2015
Senate & House Republicans Want to Bring Back Clean Elections
Hartford – Connecticut Senate and House Republicans are calling for the state to clean up its clean elections program. At a press conference at the Legislative Office Building today, Republican legislators outlined a plan to close loopholes in the state’s current public campaign financing laws.
“A decade ago, Connecticut made a deal with the taxpayers of this state: Underwrite the elections and take the money out of politics. Today, the system that we have bears little relationship to the program that was originally adopted and that taxpayers and voters were sold,” said Representative Themis Klarides (R-Derby), House Republican Leader.
“Time and time again we have seen the majority party chip away at the clean election system that Connecticut once took great pride in. We created a public financing system to ensure honest, fair elections. But that’s not what we have now. It’s time to close the loopholes,” said Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven), Senate Minority Leader.
“We must re-double our efforts to eliminate certain grants, reduce the money we spend on elections and curb the influence of outside groups that have been allowed over time to re-enter the field,’’ said Representative Klarides.
The Republican legislators are proposing a package of legislative reforms to election laws including the following changes.
1) Cap organizational expenditures by state parties
Currently, political parties can make unlimited organizational expenditures on behalf of participating candidates. Republicans are proposing the following limits:
- Candidate for Governor $250,000
- Candidate for Constitutional Officer $75,000
- Candidate for State Senate $10,000
- Candidate for House of Representatives $3,500
2) Reduce individual donor limits to state parties from $10,000 to $5,000
In 2013, individual donor limits to state parties was increased along with the amount state parties could make in organizational expenditures to a campaign. Republicans are proposing to roll back donation limits to previous levels.
3) Stop state contractor funds from being used in state races
The State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) needs to be able to enforce Connecticut’s current laws that prevent contractors from donating to state races. Republicans are proposing legislation to help SEEC enforce this law.
4) Eliminate grants to unopposed candidates
Currently, candidates for state office (constitutional officers, senators, and representatives) are eligible for Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) grants even if they are unopposed. The amount of their grant equals 30% of a full-grant. Republicans are proposing to eliminate these grants.
5) Reduce all Citizens’ Election Program grants by 25%
By reducing CEP funds across the board, the state can save taxpayers approximately $7 million in gubernatorial election years and $2.4 million in Presidential years.
“Swiss cheese,” said Senator Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury) ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. “That’s what Connecticut’s current campaign finance law resembles. The holes in the state law have made the political process more impure, lessened transparency in the system, and rendered elections watchdogs toothless. Money has trumped sunlight in Connecticut — a state which was once a model for clean elections. 2015 presents us with an opportunity to fix what is broken in the system, and I hope this is will be a bipartisan accomplishment.”