I have never seen a political ploy as shamelessly self-serving as the Republican’s attack on the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) in the budget that passed the legislature. Everyone knows that Republican caucuses grew in 2014 and 2016 due, in no small part, to dirty money that included some that was funneled through a Koch Brothers’ affiliated group in Ohio that was used to hide the source of the dirty money.
The proposal to eliminate the CEP will only encourage more of this shady spending and increase the potential for it to be effective. To propose this drastic change in our elections less than 11 months before the upcoming primaries is corrupt in its own right and if it were ever to become law we could be sure a return to Corrupticut is soon behind
A dozen years ago Gov. M Jodi Rell and legislative leaders had the courage to reject the corrupt ways of the past and enact a new system of public financing for state elections. While the U.S. Supreme Court and the legislature undermined some pieces of the reform, it is still a smashing success. Over 70 percent of candidates use the program every election cycle, numerous public officials state how they never could or would have run without it, people who were legislators before the CEP state how they feel much more accountable to their constituents instead of lobbyists and the program has had a positive impact on the budget by curtailing costly corruption and allowing the enactment of policies that have improved the state’s bottom line, like the expanded bottle bill.
This attack is not an effort to improve the state’s budget situation, but a blatant effort to gain a political advantage by monied interests. There are already candidates and possible candidates who have been making decisions about running for office in 2018. These plans have been based upon a system where if they can meet the qualifying threshold for the office they seek, they would be able to spend the rest of the campaign talking with voters instead of sucking up to donors. These people have raised hundreds of thousands of smaller contributions for a campaign whose conventions are only eight months away.
To change the rules now for a political advantage for themselves and the Koch Brothers is morally repugnant and needs to be called out for what it is. Gov. Rell and the legislature have been proven right for passing the reform in 2005. Their legacy of restoring trust in our government needs to be continued and not destroyed in budget shenanigans.
We applaud Gov. Dannel Malloy for his promise to veto this bill. We urge him, as the only person ever elected governor under the system, to pledge to save it for future candidates as part of the upcoming negotiations. And we call on the Republican leadership to stop using the budget crisis for political gain in a manner that would certainly return us to the days of Corrupticut.