Connecticut Must Shed Its Legacy of Corruption

The Brennan Center urges Connecticut to pass comprehensive campaign finance reform, including a full public financing system.

October 30, 2005

TheDay.com
October 30, 2005

Connecticut Must Shed Its Legacy of Corruption
By James Sample

One year since the resignation of Connecticut’s former Republican Gov. John Rowland, and only one month removed from the resignation of a Democratic state senator on bribery charges, the Constitution State has a momentous opportunity to reclaim its good name. Now, in the wake of scandal, citizens find an unexpected cause for hope. State leaders of both parties have the power to pass sweeping state campaign finance reform. If enacted, it could quickly transform Connecticut from a model of corruption to a model of government.

The most substantial of the reforms under consideration is the establishment of a full voluntary public financing system for legislative and statewide elections. Under the system, candidates would have the option of accepting public funding along with heightened campaign restrictions, or running traditional privately financed campaigns. Were the system to become law, Connecticut’s legislature would demonstrate genuine leadership. Never before have sitting legislative incumbents in any state passed a full public funding law that would apply to their own campaigns.

The proposed legislation also curtails the influence of government contractors and lobbyists through pay-to-play restrictions and other measures. Ultimately, the bill aims both to eliminate corruption and to restore meaningful democracy: fitting goals for an original colony whose citizens once nobly opposed taxation without representation.