Greater Bristol Legislators Want to Bring Back “Clean” Elections

February 2, 2015

Legislators from greater Bristol want state government to clean up its Clean Elections Program.

Republican legislators on Jan. 29 outlined a plan to close loopholes in the state’s current public campaign financing laws.

“A decade ago, Republicans and Democrats joined together to create a clean election system that Connecticut took great pride in,” said Sen. Henri Martin (R-Bristol). “Since then, the Connecticut system has grown to look like swiss cheese. Let’s seize the opportunity this year to close the loopholes in our elections laws and make our state a national model again.”

“I believe there is a strong need for campaign finance law reform in this state after having witnessed what I perceive to have been an abuse of the current system,” said Rep. Whit Betts (R-Bristol). “We should adhere to one of the important goals of CT’s campaign finance laws, which is the prohibition of state contractors giving money to candidates running for Governor or any state office. I also fully support the proposal that candidates who have no opponents should not receive any state funds for their campaigns.”

“By strengthening our current laws, we have an opportunity to show the taxpayers of this state that we support an honest and transparent campaign finance system,” Rep. Cara Pavalock (R-Bristol) said.

“We are heading in the opposite direction by increasing expenditures for state campaigns, particularly in light of our enormous state deficit and shrinking economy,” Rep. John Piscopo (R-Thomaston) said. “I think it is wrong policy that taxpayer’s hard earned money be used for our campaigns. I hope that someday it is repealed.”

The 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.

The 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in June.