Hartford Advocate: Public Financing: Waiting For A Solution

Hartford Advocate Article: Waiting for a Solution, Scrapping the state’s public financing for campaigns could trigger a range of other problems, by Gregory B. Hladky <read>

The fate of Connecticut’s system of using taxpayer dollars to pay for political campaigns is about to be decided by a federal appeals court. And, if part of this public-financing scheme is ultimately declared unconstitutional (as seems likely), it could trigger one bad-ass mother of a legislative brawl.

Lawmakers are already sweating over U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill’s findings that two key sections of the law violate the constitution. One concerns the ban on state political contributions by state lobbyists and contractors; and the other decrees how minor party candidates are treated. The state is now appealing those rulings…

“We support campaign finance reform,” DeRosa [, Mike co-chairman of Connecticut’s Green Party] insisted. But he said it’s ridiculously unfair to make a minor-party candidate for governor collect 200,000 valid voter signatures starting in January 2010 in order to qualify for public funding for the 2010 election…

State Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney worries that’s exactly what could happen if any part of the law is declared unconstitutional.

Looney doesn’t agree that it would be simple to change the rules requiring minor parties jump through special hoops to get funding that automatically goes to major party candidates. “I don’t think there is a fix that can be undertaken without cratering the entire system,” he said.

The Advocate article covers the concerns of those on all sides of the issue:

  • Are contribution restrictions on lobbyists, consultants, and their spouses appropriate and constitutional?
  • Are different hurdles for independent and 3rd party candidates appropriate and constitutional?
  • Can the law be fixed?  How? When?
  • Will the playing field change between now and the 2010 election?
  • Courts and the legislature usually move slowly, yet they are able to act quickly.

See our earlier coverage.

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