Secretary of the State Candidate Criticizes Exploratory Committees

New Haven Register: ‘Unofficial’ candidates criticized <read>

Gerry Garcia, Democratic candidate for secretary of the state, said candidates who use exploratory committees, rather than candidate committees, are “gaming” the system by getting around contribution limits.

Garcia is among a handful of candidates who have officially declared interest in a specific statewide office. For governor, that group includes Democrat former House Speaker James A. Amann, and Republicans Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, Scott Merrell and Tom Foley.

Democrats with exploratory committees looking at the gubernatorial race include Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, former Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy, state Sen. Gary LeBeau of East Hartford, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi and Ned Lamont, the 2006 Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, while House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero is also weighing his options.

Garcia, in a statement, asked that his fellow Democrats officially commit to the public financing system and declare their candidacies. An official candidate for governor who wants to qualify for public financing has to raise $250,000 in $100 increments.

Those in exploratory committees can accept individual contributions up to $375.

In our view exploratory committees represent a loophole in the current public financing law.  Candidates can collect and spend huge sums in the name of exploring runs for office.  We can see the need for a couple thousand for exploring a run for the legislature or perhaps a low six figure number in exploring a run for Governor, but in our understanding an almost unlimited amount can be spent “exploring”.

On the other hand, unilateral disarmament can be risky.  At least on the Democratic side, the leading candidates or Governor are all doing it.  Would Bysiewicz, Malloy, or Lamont be handicapped by individually choosing to end their exploratory committees?  Or would they gain votes.

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