GOP Senators: Democrats are Destroying Clean Elections

October 10, 2014

The Senate Republican Caucus Submits Comments to FEC

Hartford – The Connecticut Senate Republican Caucus today slammed the state Democratic Party for trying to circumvent campaign finance laws and allow money from state contractors into the gubernatorial race. The caucus submitted comments to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today opposing a request made by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) that would skirt state law.

The DSCC wants to use funds from their federal campaign account to pay for a Governor Malloy campaign mailer, although federal campaign funds are not allowed to be used to support state elections. The federal campaign account contains donations from state contractors which are prohibited from funding state candidates. Thus, if the DSCC funds a state campaign with money from their federal campaign account, they will be funneling contributions from state contractors directly to a state candidate.

“I am tired of watching the Democrats in our state chip away at our landmark campaign finance reforms. Their request to the FEC deliberately tries to circumvent the laws enacted to keep campaigns clean. It is another attempt, among many, to completely destroy clean elections,” said Senator John McKinney (R-28), Senate Minority Leader.

“Our law prevents state contractors from making contributions to state candidates, thereby eliminating the threat of ‘pay-to-play’ relationships,” said Senator Len Fasano (R-34), Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore. “Legislators need to be able to make decisions without being influenced, or appearing to be influenced, by special interests. For months Democrats have skirted around this law, directing state contractors to make contributions to the state Democratic Party’s federal account. Now, they are ready to cash in.

“We cannot stand by and allow them to manipulate the system for their own needs. Grabbing money donated by state contractors to pay for a state candidate’s expenses at the very least creates the undeniable appearance of corruption,” said Fasano.

The Senate Republican Caucus raises three ethical and legal issues regarding the Democratic Party’s request in their comments:

1) State ban on contractor contributions
The state’s Campaign Finance Reform Act passed in 2005 includes a total ban on state contractors and prospective contractors contributing to the campaigns of elected state officials. This ban was upheld by a federal court. If the state Democratic Party uses funds in their federal account to pay for gubernatorial campaign expenditures, the funds donated by many state contractors legally will end up being used to fund a state candidate, an illegal transaction.

2) State sovereignty
State elections fall outside of federal oversight and therefore must follow state law. Connecticut’s law is more restrictive than federal law and was passed in response to serious past abuses of the system and should be respected. Additionally, a recent ruling by the State Elections Enforcement Commission did not find a state contractor at fault for violating any law directly when they solicited contributions to the DSCC federal account. That ruling was made given the understanding that federal accounts could not be used to support state candidates. If such accounts were permitted to fund state candidates, this ruling most likely would have been drastically different.

3) Governor’s agreement to comply with state election laws
Governor Malloy chose to voluntarily participate in the Citizens Election Program which requires him to comply “with the requirements of the Program, including all applicable statutes, regulations and declaratory rulings.” Included in these statues and rulings are those that prohibit the acceptance of contributions from state contractors. The governor would be in violation of the CEP laws if he used federal account funds that include contractor contributions to pay for any campaign expenditure.

Comments from the Senate Republican caucus are attached. Also attached is a list of contractors who contributed to the DSCC’s federal account.