Not long ago Connecticut adopted a landmark campaign finance reform law.
As a result of that law, candidates running for governor who wanted to participate in the public financing system could not accept donations greater than $100.
For few short years Connecticut’s campaign finance law served as a model for the nation.
When more and more large corporate and private financial contributions were flowing into American political campaigns, Connecticut did the right thing and adopted a system that limited the growing influence of “big money” on politics and public policy.
But then Dannel Malloy got elected and started chopping away at Connecticut’s campaign finance model.
With the help of the Connecticut General Assembly, Connecticut has quickly gone from having one of the best campaign finance systems in the nation to one that borders on being a complete and utter joke, at least as it applies to the gubernatorial election of 2014.
Governor Malloy’s re-election dreams count on millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to pay for his campaign plus millions more in private contributions that he is trying to syphon through the Democratic State Central Committee. The scheme is the result of a loophole that Malloy expanded in order to create a pipeline for large private donations to flow through to his campaign effort.
The change was achieved when Malloy pushed through legislation that doubled the amount of money an individual can give to the state parties, raising the limit to $10,000 per person.
Financial donations to political parties ARE NOT supposed to be “directed” to the benefit of any one candidate but Malloy and his advisors have created a new system in which it is very clear to corporate interests and the rich that if they want to support or reward Governor Malloy they should do so by writing out large checks to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee.
Under Connecticut’s new system, while Malloy will still need to collect some $100 checks to qualify for his share of public financing dollars, he can and is telling donors to write out checks for up to $10,000 so that he can then use those extra funds to benefit his campaign.
Perhaps the best example of this outrageous strategy can be seen in the recent action taken by the CEO of Northeast Utilities.
As explained in a story written by the Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter, Jon Lender, the head of Northeast Utilities sent out an email in September to top NU executives that they should support Malloy – not by giving him $100 so he could qualify for public financing – but by writing out a check for up to $10,000 and sending it to the Connecticut Democratic Party.
As Lender revealed, Northeast Utilities Chairman and CEO, Thomas J. May’s email read;
“The next gubernatorial election cycle is upon us, and I am asking each of you to join me in financially supporting Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy”
May added, “Please make contributions payable to: CT Democratic State Central Committee — Federal,”
The email was sent to 48 NU executives and has resulted in about $50,000 in contributions and counting.
Northeast Utilities and the Connecticut Democratic Party both claim that the fundraising letter was legal.
Maybe, although the directed donation portion of the fundraising solicitation definitely highlights a potential problem for NU, Democratic State Central and Malloy.
But just as important, is the fundraising letter moral or ethical?
And the answer to that is absolutely not.
Regardless of whether it meets the “letter of the law,” the gimmick Malloy and Northeast Utilities has engaged in is not only offensive but violates the spirit of Connecticut’s historic campaign finance reform effort.
Democrats worked hard to pass campaign finance reform law.
Almost every single Democratic member of the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives campaigned on their vote for the campaign finance reform legislation and pledged to continue to support Connecticut’s premiere campaign finance legislation.
And yet here we are just a few years later and Connecticut’s Democratic governor and Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee have managed to turn Connecticut’s campaign finance law into a charade.
Democrats across Connecticut should be outraged that while we talk of good government and a government dedicated to the People rather than to the big donors, we have a Governor who is turning our efforts into a joke.
You can find Jon Lender’s full article here: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-money-for-malloy-1204-20131203,0,5220948.story