Fasano Statement re: Criticism of Budget Cut to Citizens Election Program

May 9, 2017

Hartford – Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement in response to a press conference held today regarding the state’s Citizens Election Program (CEP) and the Republican budget proposal which cuts state funding for campaigns.

“The state cannot keep up with managing funds for a program that is a mere shadow of the original bill and is no longer an effective tool in keeping elections clean as we’ve seen in recent years. I voted for and still support the CEP in its original form. If the Democrats were receptive to the reforms Republicans have proposed in the past to restore the CEP’s integrity, then I wouldn’t be suggesting cutting the program now. But what we have today has been completely stripped over the years by Democrats. Under a Republican governor Democrats supported a strict program. But as soon as a Democratic governor was in play, they exploited the rules so they could maximize the distribution of money. Republican proposals to restore the system to what it once was have been repeatedly rejected by Democrats in past years – including our proposals to cap organization expenditures by state parties, reduce individual donor limits to state parties, eliminate grants to unopposed candidates, stop state contractors from donating to federal accounts to fund a state race, and reduce all CEP grants to make the program more sustainable.

“I have no problem discussing ways to restore funding for the CEP if Democrats are finally open to closing the loopholes they created. But we need to look at the budget as a whole – something Democrats have yet to do. Connecticut Democrats have not put forward a budget for either the January consensus revenue numbers or the new projections. They have failed to fulfill their responsibility to the people of our state. Until they offer a plan to address the state budget, they are in no position to criticize those who have made tough decisions to address our state’s financial crisis.”

 History of Efforts to Weaken the CEP:

–          Just 3 days after the 2010 primary Democrat lawmakers overrode Governor Rell’s veto of Public Act 10-1 and doubled the amount of taxpayer funds to $6 million, filling Gov. Malloy campaign coffers.

–          Gov. Malloy tried unsuccessfully in March 2012 to allow publicly financed candidates to raise unlimited funds from special interest groups if they faced a high spending opponent.

–          In June 2013 Democrats opened the CEP program to a flood of special interest money when the voted to pass Public Act 13-180 which did the following:

  • allowed unlimited organizational expenditures from state central committees
  • doubled individual limits to PACs and party committees including federal accounts
  • allowed organizational expenditures to be used for negative campaigning

–          Democrats voted down legislation proposed by Republicans to strengthen the Citizens Election Program.

–          In October 2014, state Democrats asked the Federal Election Commission to declare that it was legal for the party to use money from its federal campaign account to pay for a planned campaign mailing asking voters to re-elect Gov. Malloy. Despite objections from the State Elections Enforcement Commission, they moved forward without approval. The State Elections Enforcement Committee launched an investigation into the state Democratic Party spending money from its federal account, which included donations from state contractors, to pay for a gubernatorial reelection mailer. The party dodged subpoenas from the SEEC. After a legal battle, in June 2016 the state Democratic Party made a settlement with the SEEC. The toothless settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing. Rather, it requires Democrats promise to follow state law moving forward and requires they make a “voluntary payment” of $325,000 to the state – in exchange the case was dropped, investigation halted, and subpoenaed emails remained concealed.