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Common Cause and Citizen Action Join Connecticut Campaign Finance Case

February 28, 2007

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jonathan Rosen, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, (646) 452–5637
Andy Sauer, Connecticut Common Cause, (860) 539–6846

Common Cause and Citizen Action Join Connecticut Campaign Finance Case Brennan Center Leads Litigation Team

Hartford—Three former candidates and two good government groups were granted permission today to intervene in litigation in defense of Connecticuts Citizens Clean Elections Program.

U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill granted a motion to intervene brought by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law on behalf of Connecticut Common Cause, Connecticut Citizens Action Group and former major and minor party candidates for public office in Connecticut. The Courts ruling will allow the parties to join the case in defense of the Clean Elections Program and the restrictions it imposes on contributions by lobbyists and state contractors.

Connecticut voters deserve the chance to elect people who arent beholden to lobbyists and big money, said Suzanne Novak, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center and lead counsel for the groups joining the litigation. This law will level the playing field and give regular people a fair shot at being heard in Hartford.

The Brennan Center has successfully defended state public financing laws in Arizona and Maine and is currently defending North Carolinas public campaign finance program. Joining the Brennan Center as co-lead counsel in the Connecticut case will be a team of lawyers from the New York office of Hogan & Hartson L.L.P., a leading national law firm, based in Washington, with substantial experience in litigation concerning voting rights and campaign finance. Attorneys from the Campaign Legal Center, Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry LLP, WilmerHale and Democracy 21 in Washington, DC also are part of the litigation team representing the defendant intervenors.

Leaders of good government organizations hailed the judges decision and pledged to vigorously defend the provisions of the law banning contributions from lobbyists and their families. 

Connecticut enacted the strongest campaign finance law in the nation in wake of the worst scandal in state history and under unrelenting pressure from citizens, who were tired of reading stories of one political scandal after another, said Andy Sauer, executive director of Connecticut Common Cause. Under the old system lobbyists and state contractors, along with their family members, were able to leverage large amounts of campaign contributions to influence elected leaders. Connecticuts new law reduces that influence, and the people of Connecticut have overwhelmingly supported this major reform. 

The founder of Connecticuts Green Party, a new defendant in the lawsuit, called for the court to uphold the law despite the limits minor parties would face accessing public financing under the law.

“I think the public financing program would allow people like me, who are interested in public service, but don’t have wealthy friends, to have a real shot at public office, said Tom Sevigny a former candidate for State Representative and State Senate on the Green Party line. While all viable candidates should be permitted to participate in the program, I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to require minor parties to demonstrate that they have the support of enough people before we start handing out our tax dollars to them.

Connecticut took steps to make its laws comprehensive and reduce the ability of special interests to game the system.  We are confident that the laws are constitutional and will be upheld, said Novak.