For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 1, 2005
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998-6736
Suzanne Novak, 212 992-8637
Connecticut Legislature Passes Sweeping Campaign Finance Reform Bill
Bill Restores Integrity to Elections, Levels Political Playing Field
New York, NY Today, Connecticuts Legislature passed an unprecedented campaign finance reform bill combining restrictions on special interest groups with full public financing. Saying the bill makes Connecticut a national leader on campaign finance reform Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell promised to sign it into law.
The bill signifies a key victory for the national campaign finance reform movement and, now, little more than a year removed from a government corruption scandal, places Connecticut at the forefront of state-initiated clean elections reform.
Connecticuts action shows that while Washington, DC is consumed with it own corruption issues, many states are pressing forward with bold and courageous reforms, says Michael Waldman, Executive Director of the Brennan Center for Justice. This bill makes a number of significant strides ranging from public financing to direct restrictions on special-interest money. This action also shows that elected officials close to the ground understand that the public can and will support public financing.
The bill marks the first time legislative incumbents passed a full public financing law that applies to their own political campaigns. This bill represents the high watermark of bi-partisan cooperation with a Democratic legislature coming together with a Republican Governor to pass this landmark bill. Connecticut joins Maine and Arizona as states with voluntary full public financing for legislative offices. The systems in Maine and Arizona were passed by citizen initiatives. Candidates who choose to participate in the public financing system will be required to meet a “qualifying contributions” threshold demonstrating that they have sufficient public support. They will then be eligible for public funding for their campaigns.
In addition to public financing, the bill also bans contributions from special interest groups. Lobbyists, state contractors and prospective state contractors are prohibited from making contributions to candidate committees for legislative and statewide offices, candidate-affiliated political action committees (PACS) and party committees. It further closes business PAC contribution loopholes and makes contribution limits for business and labor PACs equal.
The Brennan Center advised Connecticut’s Executive and Legislative Branch Working Group on Campaign Finance Reform this summer in the groups efforts to draft a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill during a special session. The Brennan Center has been providing constitutional analysis on campaign finance law to legislators and advocates at the national, state and local levels since its inception in 1995. Click here to listen to the Brennan Center’s Suzanne Novak’s comments on Connecticut Campaign Finance Reform with NPR.