Shelton legislators: Change public campaign financing law [Shelton Herald]

February 23, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Shelton Herald

Shelton’s three Republican state legislators have joined a GOP effort to reform the state’s Citizen’s Election program, which provides public financing to qualifying candidates for state offices.

In the 2014 elections, the state spent $33 million on the program — and that is too much, said state Sen. Kevin Kelly and state Reps. Jason Perillo and Ben McGorty.

They want to reduce grants to candidates by 25%, and eliminate grants to unopposed candidates.

Under the proposal, a qualifying candidate for governor would receive $4.9 million rather than $6.5 million. The allocation for state senator would go from $94,690 to $71,017, and for state representative from $27,850 to $20,887.

Would save taxpayers money

Republicans said the reduced grants would save state taxpayers about $7 million in gubernatorial election years and $2.4 million in presidential election years.

The legislators also want to stop state contractors from donating to the federal account to fund a state race, cap organizational expenditures by state political party organizations, and reduce individual donor limits to state parties from $10,000 to $5,000.

They said there is a need to repair “numerous erosions to the integrity of the program” since it was enacted in 2005.

The campaign finance system relies on the use of public funds that are distributed to candidates after they meet certain fund-raising criteria and thresholds.

‘A false promise’

“Over time, Democrats have eroded the protections our state once championed,” Kelly said. “Without reforms to repair these protections, the entire public financing program is nothing more than a false promise to keep elections clean.”

Perillo said Democrats “have systematically disassembled the most important parts of our campaign laws, replacing them with system that does not keep up the state’s part of the bargain on maintaining clean elections.”

According to McGorty, “The original aim of the state’s clean campaign finance measures has been corrupted over time by a majority who, after each successive campaign season, found something additional that was inconvenient in the law and sought to remove it.”