Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has deposited his check for $6.2 million from the State’s Public Finance System.

As a result of Connecticut’s landmark 2005 campaign finance reform bill, in return for raising $250,000 in contributions of under $100, Malloy (and the Republican nominee for governor) have each received $6.2 million in public funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.

The original concept, which passed following the conviction of Governor John Rowland in 2005, was that in return for a multi-million dollar campaign donation from the public, candidates would agree to forgo private funds raised from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees, the wealthy and other special interest.

But that was before Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly torpedoed the most important elements of the law.

Now, in addition to the $6.2 million in public funds, Malloy and his political operatives have collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign into the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account, much of it from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.   The political maneuver was made possible thanks to a proposal Malloy and the Democrats pushed through in 2013.

In addition, a “separate” political action committee called Connecticut Forward, has already raised $2.5 million to run ads in support of Malloy and against his opponent, Tom Foley.  To date, about $1.3 million of Connecticut Forward’s money has come from the Democratic Governors Association, $900,000 from the AFSCME union and $250,000 from the American Federation of Teachers.  In the coming weeks, the Connecticut Forward PAC is expected to raise another $3-$5 million or more in their effort to promote Malloy’s campaign.

So how on earth did we go from having one of the “best” campaign finance reform laws in the nation to a campaign in which Malloy gets $6.2 million in public funds, while accessing another $10 million or more in campaign donations including money from state contractors and others who personally benefit from the governor’s policies.

While a portion of the blame rests with the unprecedented Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, in which companies were determined to be people for the purposes of campaign finance laws, Connecticut’s present campaign laws, along with their appearance of corruption, rests on the shoulders of Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Legislature.

A June 1, 2011 Wait, What? post entitled, “Oh…Remember When Democratic Leaders were for Campaign Finance Reform,” observed, “Democrats Complete the Task of Undermining the State’s Public Finance Law.”  And yet the worst was still to come.

As background, back on January 27th, 2010, when then-candidate Dan Malloy spoke out after a Zogby public opinion survey found that 79 percent of Connecticut voters supported public financing and the Citizens’ Elections Program, Malloy said;

“In my view, this poll should serve as proof of just how strongly Connecticut voters feel about campaign finance reform, and as a warning for those candidates who think they can brush aside the Citizens’ Election Program…”

At the time, Malloy was echoing the sentiment of Democratic Party leaders.

Following the passage of Connecticut’s historic campaign finance law, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan wrote;

“Almost 230 years ago, the founding fathers took a huge risk when they signed the Declaration of Independence and set the wheels in motion for the world’s greatest democracy. Today, this historic campaign finance reform legislation reaffirms that this is a government for the people, not special interests. This campaign finance reform bill is our declaration of independence. We can look our constituents in the eye and say we created the strongest campaign laws in the United States.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams’ rhetoric was equally impressive, with an official biography that read,

“Since his election as Senate President, Senator Williams has been a leading advocate for cleaning up government. He authored legislation to reform the State Ethics Commission and supported sweeping changes to the campaign finance system and the state contracting process. With the creation of a publicly funded campaign finance system in 2005, Connecticut now has the strongest reform laws in the nation.”

But when candidate Dan Malloy became Governor Dannel Malloy, the official view and strategy when it came to campaign finance reform changed dramatically.

In Malloy’s first budget, the new governor took aim at the State Elections Enforcement Commission by reducing its funding, its autonomy and its authority.

At the time, State Senator Gayle Slossberg, the only Democrat to vote against Malloy’s plan, was quoted as saying, “I just think that the proposal in front of us undermines the independence and the integrity of the [State Election Enforcement Commission and the other] watchdog agencies,”

But Malloy’s effort to undermine Connecticut’s campaign finance law had just begun.

As the 2013 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to a close, Malloy and the Democrats passed legislation that allowed candidates to keep the public campaign finance funds while opening the flood gates to tainted campaign contributions.

The bill doubled the amount of money private donors could give to political parties, removed the cap on how much political parties could spend to support candidates participating in the public finance system and created a massive loophole by allowing candidates, in this case Malloy, to better coordinate their activities with political parties and other political action committees.

The anti-campaign finance reform bill did not get a single Republican vote in the State Senate or House of Representatives.  On June 19, 2013 Malloy signed the legislation into law, which in turn, prompted former Governor Jodi Rell to observe;

“After a dark period in our state’s history, Connecticut became a role model for the nation with … our campaign finance reform. How sad that the Democrat governor, Democrat legislators and the Democrat Party are so greedy for campaign cash that they would willingly destroy what we so proudly enacted just a few short years ago.”

At the time, few fully appreciated how the legislation would change the political landscape, but you can read more about the Democrats successful effort to destroy Connecticut’s campaign finance law in the June 2013 CTNewsJunkie article entitled, “Malloy Signs Bill Changing Campaign Finance Reforms of 2005.”

Now, with just weeks to go in the 2014 gubernatorial election, laws have been changed to the point that instead of having $6.2 million, the Malloy campaign effort will probably spend in excess of $16 million to try and get a second term in office.

Of course, thanks in no small part to the same changes in the law, Tom Foley and the Republicans will be spending an equally obscene amount of money.

Finally, as Wait, What? readers know, the entire system is also rigged against third-party candidates.  Meaning in this campaign finance war of mutually assured campaign destruction, they only candidate not double and triple dipping, while still using taxpayer funds is third party candidate Joe Visconti.

So let’s hear it!  Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

  • buygoldandprosper

    Because of his warped and corrupt “leadership, Dan may well get another four years. It is a sickening thought.
    Pay-to-Play Danny, as I have said pretty much since he was elected, has bought the election. This time around New Haven will “deliver” the votes like Bridgeport did last time.
    I can feel better about writing in PELTO but it won’t make me feel good either.
    Get in line folks and head for the nearest exit behind everyone else rushing to get out of Connecticut.

  • Mary Gallucci

    Let’s see–the republicans
    are going to do exactly the $ame thing, as this is really about the
    2-party corporate-owned system we have. Is it better when a
    millionaire/billionaire like Linda McMahon spends “her own” money? I
    guess that’s another way to keep challengers away–or at least anyone
    who is not a millionaire/billionaire.
    The loopholes should be closed and caps should be placed on what can be spent by any candidate for any office–and there should be caps on how many ads they can run.
    Christie will be riding his white charger into Connecticut again soon,
    with a big check from the Republican Governor’s Association. He dare
    not take a train, or, by god, travel on the George Washington Bridge!

  • buygoldandprosper

    “That’s who we are…that’s what we are…”
    Dan Malloy, re-writing his term in office and twisting facts like he did for the last three year.
    That’s who he is. That’s what he is. A compulsive liar, looking for another four years to suck the life out of the body politic. Oh! And another four years of Cathy at GHAC…

  • WEP

    Jonathan, are you going to register (or whatever the process is) to be a write in candidate? I can’t stomach voting for any of the other candidates for governor. I have always supported Democratic nominees for governor, but not this year. It’s time to send Democrats the message that we expect them to act like Democrats, not Republican Lite.

    • jonpelto

      Yup, paperwork sent to Secretary of the State, anyone who writes in Pelto/Murphy will be casting a vote that will be counted.

      • WEP

        Thank you!!!

        • WEP

          Also, please do post instructions about exactly how to write in our vote so we’ll be sure they show up in the count. Thanks, Jon.

  • Ronald Peterson

    There is another choice. and he is the only candidate WITHOUT his hand in your pocket. How does it feel Mr. & Mrs. CT taxpayer to know your supporting candidates you don’t even like. Send a message. Vote Visconti.

    • Mary Gallucci

      Well, he might not have his hand in *my* pocket, but I don’t like looking at the pistol in his.

      • Ronald Peterson

        are you afraid of people with guns?

        • Mary Gallucci

          I am disheartened by a society that deems gun ownership a necessity; and perplexed by those who say that as long as we’re all carrying guns, we can rest assured. I believe just the opposite–in a truly civilized society, I should be able to walk the streets and go about my business with no fear of guns, openly carried or concealed.

    • WEP

      I’m sorry but I’m not looking to go farther right wing than Malloy and Foley. I want a Democrat, someone who values workers and public education.