CT News Junkie | OP-ED | Connecticut’s Publicly-Funded Campaign System Is A Joke

Social Networks We Use

Connecticut Network

Categories

Our Partners

OP-ED | Connecticut’s Publicly-Funded Campaign System Is A Joke

by | Nov 6, 2014 9:03pm
() Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, Opinion

shutterstock


Here’s one last poll I’d like to see the numbers for — how many Connecticut residents woke up Wednesday morning excited about four more years of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy?

Unfortunately for Republican candidate Tom Foley, it appears voters chose the devil they know (or is it the porcupine?) instead of the devil they didn’t know. Foley claimed he released an agenda that would move the state forward, but it was an anemic agenda at best with few details and no inspiration. It certainly wasn’t enough to convince voters they’d be better off under a Gov. Foley than they are now.

Woulda shoulda coulda.

So now what — what will four more years of Malloy mean? The few policy ideas Malloy tossed out — which were on his website, but I don’t remember him ever talking about them during a debate — were that he’d introduce universal pre-k to the state by 2019 and hand more state projects over to union labor.

Oh, and that he’ll keep doing what he’s done the past four years to stimulate the economy. Yikes. We’ll see if that means four more years of tepid economic growth.

The problem is, voters didn’t buy Malloy’s vision, because there wasn’t a vision. They just liked Foley less. Not a ringing endorsement for either candidate.

Not that Foley didn’t face formidable obstacles in his second race for governor, besides his own lack of political acumen — this state has proven its deep-blue bona fides once again as it resisted change at every level. Not one of the statewide races went to a Republican, while across the country Republicans cleaned-up, even in other deep-blue states.

There are some deeply entrenched systemic issues at work in Connecticut, not to mention the single-party dominance, which allows the Democrats to collect and spend gobs of money to maintain its hegemony.

Witness the demise of the state’s public campaign finance system.

When I say demise, I mean in spirit only, because in reality you’ll never see the politicians in Hartford let go of these tax dollars now that they have them. The power of incumbency is to perpetuate incumbency.

Like so many well-intentioned government programs, the state’s publicly funded campaign system sounds so good on paper, but in practice the program has left Connecticut worse-off, and has cost the state’s taxpayers millions in the process.

Think of the promises behind the law — cleaner government! Freer and more-open elections! More competition!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Ask the third party candidates how they feel about the public finance system, or the Republicans who couldn’t meet the state’s high barriers to entry in the primary and general election.

It is full-blown hypocrisy for the Democrats to say they support clean and open elections and then behave the way they did this campaign cycle.

Look at newly-elected state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., who took money from the taxpayer-funded campaign system, then proceeded to spend hundreds of thousands more thanks to the state party.

He blamed his need for more money on the “Yankee Institute and a number of other organizations dump(ing) over $1 million in State Senate races…” in 2012.

Uh, no we didn’t. Outright lie. The Yankee Institute is a non-profit and gives no money to support or oppose political candidates during an election. By law, we can’t, and we don’t. Do you really think our friends who run the public sector unions would let us get away with something like that?

The public sector unions, on the other hand, spent millions in this year’s state elections. They are the only state contractors (and the largest state contractors at that) who are allowed to give money directly to the state party, instead of having to filter their money through the federal account like the other contractors.

Connecticut Forward, the Democratic PAC that sent the mailers that were challenged by Republicans, got $2.25 million from the Democratic Governors Association, and then another $900,000 from AFSCME, $500,000 from AFT, $500,000 from SEIU, and $10,000 from the Teamsters. That’s almost $2 million dollars from the unions just for this one PAC.

Money gets into politics for one reason — to influence.

I guess we know what Malloy is going to be doing for the next four years — working for the people who paid to put him there.

Suzanne Bates is the policy director for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. She lives in South Windsor with her family. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Share this story with others.

Share | |

Comments

(33) Archived Comments

posted by: Voice of Reason | November 7, 2014  12:53pm

Ms. Bates,

On an election night were Republican upheaval swept across the country like a red plague of fear, words cannot describe the sense of relief I felt Wednesday morning to learn that Tom Foley was not my governor. But hey, that’s me.

posted by: Noteworthy | November 7, 2014  12:57pm

Public financing of campaigns should just end. It works better on the local level, but at the state level, it just gives the legislators and top slots a wad of taxpayer dough while they whore out the meaning of clean elections and greater representation. Marry this with their complete disregard and rejection of the FOIA pledge - where’s the integrity in serving the public?

posted by: cnj-david | November 7, 2014  2:00pm

“I guess we know what Malloy is going to be doing for the next four years — working for the people who paid to put him there. “

You mean Governor Dannell Malloy isn’t gong to do anything more for me then he did over the last four years?  Gasp.  Shocked. 

Are you implying, (or am I simply inferring), that I can look forward to four more years of increased taxes, less transparency in government, and more trampling of my constitutional rights?

Gee willikers, I thought this was the party of “hope and change”.

That’s right, that’s why I’m wearing a t-shirt this very moment that says “I’ll keep my guns, money and freedom—you keep the change”.

Unfortunately for me, and a fair number of other Connecticut residents, the Republican party failed to run a good campaign—and it’s four more years of King Dan.

How utterly disappointing.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 7, 2014  5:32pm

Ms. Bates—why don’t you also include the outside money that supported Foley?  Are you afraid of the answer? 

If the system is so terrible, why did almost every state-wide candidate adopt it?  Ditto for the vast majority of state senate and state rep candidates, Republicans as well as Democrats, both incumbents and challengers? 

What Republicans are you talking about who “couldn’t meet the high barriers”?  The law requires that you demonstrate a broad base of support before you get public funding.  What’s wrong with that?

I agree that the law unfairly treats third-party candidates and it should be enlarged to include them under the same rules.  But Jonathan Pelto couldn’t even get 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot, much less meet the hurdle for public financing, so why should the taxpayers fund his campaign?

The Citizens Election Program is our best defense against rich candidates (Foley, Lamont, the wrestling lady, the guy who just ran in the 5th against Esty) and outside money (the Kochs, Bloomberg, Republican and Democratic Governor’s Associations, etc) buying our elections.

And finally, what union is a state contractor?  Union members work for companies or for government agencies.  Surely you understand the difference.

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 7, 2014  6:18pm

shinningstars122

Ms. Bates I was excited to read your byline but I had to go halfway through the piece before you even started to address the issue.

It is time to get over the Malloy shock. You yourself have looked at the results and it was not just the “takers” who made the difference in this election.

Either way you can look forward to newly elected Joni Ernst’s comments from the Senate floor come January on C-Span.
.
Sorry I am digressing…back to your piece.

Not once did you ever mention the impact of Citizens United on both parties.

How about posting the stats for the GOP end of the game?

Don’t worry I’ll do that for you

Outside groups gave Malloy $8.3 million and Foley $6.7, someone must have been mad with the deal they got from Foley in Iraq.

One group gave $1.7 million in the final week to stump for Foley… A Public View.

The bottom line is that all this new anonymous dark money will be flooding into state and local elections moving forward period.

You’ll have to Recuse yourself if you honestly want to be objective and write about this crisis undermining our Republic.

Of coarse for the soon to be 114th Congress repealing Citizens United by legislation is dead on arrival.


The bottom line Ms. Bates is you’ll have to attack both sides of the problem and support a full repeal of Citizens United by an act of Congress and signed by the President.

As we already know that will not be the case no matter which party is in power.

Look at the bright side Foley saved $11 million this time around and hopefully he will have a taxable income this year.

Malloy is depending on it.

posted by: Breeze | November 7, 2014  7:12pm

Another pundit telling us what our votes meant. In actuality, what she thinks they meant. Nice try though. Yea Malloy!

posted by: perturbed | November 8, 2014  6:52am

perturbed

Just two—no, make that three—comments:

1) It’s always necessary to have some basic information about a topic before reading an Op-Ed by Suzanne Bates, to avoid being easily (and intentionally) led astray. Here’s a start: Final Tally For Governor’s Race: More Than $30 Million .

2) Kevin Rennie was more eloquent:  If Only Tom Foley Had Paid Some Taxes.

“Public financing of campaigns is now revealed as a con that takes tens of millions of dollars every two years from taxpayers and adds it to money raised from special interests that advocates told us a decade ago had to be banished from politics. The system that’s been rigged in the Malloy years allows — some of the solicited would say requires — those interests to contribute while candidates continue to collect enormous amounts of public funds for their ads and consultants.”

(As usual, using a link to the piece produced by a Google search of the title should get you past a subscription wall.)

3) I actually agree with Ms. Bates that Connecticut’s publicly-funded campaign system is a joke. (There’s a first time for everything!)

—perturbed

posted by: ctguy | November 8, 2014  1:41pm

Ms Bates apparently Senator Kennedy was mistaken when he cited the Yankee Institute as a source of funds but that does not translate into his statement on other sources being inaccurate. 
The Yankee Institute is well known as GOP think tank.
Regarding the attacks on public funding are you asking for limits on outside money? Regarding third party candidates does the name Lowell Weicker ring a bell in that brain of yours? 
The attack on unions is telling in that no such attacks are leveled on dark money sources. Unions today are all incorporated and as far as I can tell can do as any other corporation does.
Perhaps if you looked at some figures on pre-k education you may be a bit more hopeful on it’s impact. Public school performance is an issue every parent in CT is concerned with and elevating the discussion in upper grades through the use of pre-k is a positive thing. It just may free up single parents to seek more meaningful, rewarding jobs by removing a tremendous burden. Do you have any concept of what pre k childcare currently costs parents? How much economic activity is lost because the expense of childcare or pre-k outweighs the gain?
Sorry but I see nothing but poor me here

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 8, 2014  2:31pm

shinningstars122

@ Perturbed yes it deeply flawed but until there is the political will from both parties, or even a journalist, expect more of the same.

I would not doubt it will be $50 million next time around.

Just look at Rick Scott who spent $62.7 himself to win so lets look on the bright side it could have been alot worse here in the Nutmeg state.

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 9, 2014  9:44am

shinningstars122

Time for mid-term fun facts 2014.
How much did $3.7 billion spent on this mid-term elections get?

Lets see as of 2014 there were 206,072,000 eligible voters in the US.

36.6% of them would be 75,422,352 who actually voted. The lowest number since 1942 in the middle of WW II.

3,700,000,000 / 75,422,352 = $4.91 per vote. Probably split that in half for both parties so it would be only $2.46 per vote.

In the 2012 election only 131,144,000 or 64% voted so those poor dark money non- profits had to shell out much more money per vote this time around.

Either way what a bargain for the GOP and the Koch brothers!

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 9, 2014  10:06am

shinningstars122

If we look solely at the Governor;s race the numbers are much more alarming.
$30 million spent divided by 1,078,407 votes cast.

Drum roll please…
$27.82 per vote!

Way to go kids!

posted by: perturbed | November 9, 2014  2:32pm

perturbed

@shinningstars122— It’s worse than deeply flawed. This time around it was practically useless. All it did was cost precious tax dollars. But with over half the dollars spent coming from special interests, the two candidates were/are just as beholden to those special interests as if no tax dollars had been spent. The only winners were the media that collected the $30M.

There is an inherent conflict of interest: the polls we elect need our votes, yes, but that requires huge sums of money. So the polls need large donations from special interests. Unfortunately—and contrary to what all those special interests have convinced one political persuasion or another—what’s good for those special interests is typically *not* good for the rest of us. The special interests across the political spectrum are predominantly motivated by self-interest, not some professed public interest. Then, while the voting public has shown they can be easily bought by a barrage of 1 or 2 minute cartoons and demand only vague, empty promises in return, the special interest benefactors demand real payback. This is an over-arching issue that ultimately makes us powerless to address all other serious problems we face.

Suzanne Bates wrote:

“Money gets into politics for one reason — to influence.”


While that’s true, the opinion piece would be more respectable if it weren’t framed in petty partisan politics. Pretending the conservative half of the debacle isn’t just as self-interested as the liberal half (or worse, pretending it doesn’t even exist) isn’t honest or, ultimately, as persuasive as acknowledging that influence peddling comes from all directions.

And no, I don’t expect this will change, shinningstars122. It would require reform initiated by the very polls that are so tangled in conflicting interests. The situation looks bleak.

The more sophisticated forms of “election engineering” (what are the real terms? “Experiment-Informed Programs”? “Micro-targeting Voter Modeling”?) now coming into practiced add a whole other dimension to this problem. It will be interested to see how they change the dynamics of future elections as they become more widespread, more sophisticated and more effective. Somehow, I fear the result will be an even less perfect democracy, as more money is spent to influence smaller and smaller slices of the population with narrower messages crafted by real-time social experimentation.

—perturbed

posted by: Christine Stuart | November 9, 2014  9:55pm

Christine Stuart

Perturbed,
You should know the $30 million cited by the Courant is not accurate. It’s a much higher number. The federal funds spent on the Malloy mailer have not been accounted for neither has all the party funds that were spent on the two clean election candidates. Check back for our story tomorrow on the topic.
Best
Christine

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 9, 2014  10:18pm

Christine—I wondered if the $30MM included the funds spent through the parties’ federal accounts.  Apparently not.

Unfortunately there’s ample precedent here.  Linda McMahon spent $50MM of her own money in 2010, which was $10 million per congressional district.  At that time (and probably still today) it was the largest per capita amount ever spent on a campaign.

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 10, 2014  6:11am

shinningstars122

@Perturbed I whole heartily agree and if you have read my numerous posts on the subject i was not understating its effects on our democracy.

I think the bigger crime is the lack of indignation, or even support, from our conservative friends on this blog.

If we as a people are to shift this system to something that supports our true beliefs toward freedom and liberty, and a representative democracy, then it is clear the left and the right, as well as the larger middle, need to work together.

So far that is the not the case and that is exactly what these special interests and dark money non-profits want from the electorate…silence and complacency.

posted by: SilenceDogood | November 10, 2014  7:58am

As is usual, we the “electorate” are the problem. We whine about money in politics, but open the checkbook when our favorite party or politicain breathlessly extolls us to give money now because the other guy has more and will use it to destroy our way of life. We are suckers! We should not give a single dollar until Citizens United is fixed, (and the stupid CT money scheme). Yes, big money people will keep on giving, we can all root on our favorite dark money PAC and save our money for ourselves - we’re going to need it.

posted by: Greg | November 10, 2014  9:47am

Here we go again- Republican Party hack mad about losing, blame too much money in politics.  Don’t talk about spending by the GOP candidate or (R) elected officials “working for the people who paid to put him (them) there.” Nor address the “corporations are people” meme at all.

Then again I suppose Eric Cantor’s cronyism never existed, nor does his million dollar job now that he’s out of office.  No, not in a “my party iz good ur party iz bad!” column.

Indeed, repeal Citizens United and stipulate Muh Rights and Muh Freedums apply only to individuals (read: humans).

I have to agree: Where are the conservative commenters on this?

posted by: GBear423 | November 10, 2014  10:32am

GBear423

@ Greg, Dimlylitstars122, et al, you have absolutely no shame. and a reminder-  it was the columns about dan malloy seizing federal campaign dollars for his State Office bid where there was anemic left winger commentary. His seizure of those funds intended for Federal office candidates and non-partisan voter information was coincidentally after the State Election Committee ruled its okay for Corporate Officers at Northeast Utilities to email their employees to donate to the federal campaign accounts.
So spare us the righteous indignity of the evil republicans and their corporate dollars. Those dollars may not be made the old fashion way, but it sure as hell is better than democrats hijacking their campaign funds from all our paychecks every week. Eventually the chickens will come home to roost, this is not a sustainable system.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 10, 2014  11:57am

Gbear—Malloy didn’t “seize” anything.  The Democratic State Central Committee raised funds through its federal account for party building activities—all perfectly legal at both the federal and state level.  I assume the Republicans did the same.

None of those funds were ever intended for “non-partisan” activities.  That’s what the League of Women Voters does, not any political party which is partisan by definition.

As for the SEEC ruling concerning Northeast Utilities, I can only say that when in a former life I was Vice President in a Fortune 50 bank, every year I received a request from the Vice Chairman of our division asking me to contribute to the Bank’s PAC, and every year it went into the round file.

This was twenty years ago, before Citizens United made such appeals unnecessary.  Now the guys at the top (and they are mostly guys) can simply use corporate funds without bothering the peons who work for them. 

What do you think of that system?  Do you like corporate funds (not PAC money) being used in campaigns?

posted by: Greg | November 10, 2014  12:36pm

Gbear: Indeed I have no shame.  Nor do i have some moral obligation to The Party to point a finger at the Democrats as Ms. Bates does above while being blind to my own party’s cronyism.  I mentioned Eric Cantor; would you feel better if I mentioned Chris Dodd and the MPAA also?  Oh BTW, you’re dead on with the lack of left-leaning anger at the Dem mailer, although deliberately skirting election law isn’t the point of the above.

Frankly I’m tired of this blind, partisan moral superiority of whichevers party apparatus of which one decides to kowtow without question; conveniently pretending their Big Money is the rightous Big Money and the other guy’s is teh evil.  I’m also tired of the incessant money-in-politics memes: Koch Brothers!  Unions!  Soros!  Wall St! 

The broader point is whether either party’s followers want unlimited Big Money in politics or not, and whether a statutory tax and liability shelter should have the same rights as actual human beings.  Some of us very clearly think not.

posted by: robn | November 10, 2014  1:11pm

The donated real dollar amounts will never reflect the paper value of the thousands upon thousands of man hours donated by union footsoldiers who exchanged time with campaigns in order to protect their own narrow financial self-interests. This has monetary value and campaigns should be accountable for this.

posted by: SocialButterfly | November 10, 2014  1:29pm

@LongJohn47: As a fellow former banker you know the Malloy used taxpayer funds to swing the election his way when when on election leave he bonded a bundle of taxpayer money to give aid for winning votes to Connecticut towns and cities and others.
We all will be paying for Malloy’s victory for a long time.
Credit Malloy for knowing how to get around the system that you did not give him credit for.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 10, 2014  2:36pm

robn—“accountable”?  For volunteer time?  Do you see campaign activity by actual human beings as intrinsically evil and needing regulation?

posted by: robn | November 10, 2014  5:26pm

LJ47,

Labor can’t have it both ways; either their labor has value (like they say) or it doesn’t. In any event, I wouldn’t have such a bee in my bonnet about volunteerism if Labor’s effort in CT wasn’t such a transparently concerted effort to line it’s own nest with taxpayer dollars.

PS I personally volunteered weeks of my time canvassing for Dems against Bush in Philly neighborhoods that were considered too dangerous for fragile idealists, so please don’t try to propagandize me with your version of democracy.

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 10, 2014  5:47pm

shinningstars122

Hey @Gbear if your man won, well it would have been fair and square becaue all of this is legal.

That is the problem it should not be legal for either party.

As you gloss over the posts to just fish stuff out as the stuff to inflame your position you once again fall into your unrelenting partisan banter and miss seeing the greater problem.


>>>> Those dollars may not be made the old fashion way, but it sure as hell is better than democrats hijacking their campaign funds from all our paychecks every week.

I hate to burst your bubble but your recall Tom Foley, he just lost the election, took an equal amount of public financed campaign dollars…$6.5 millions by my last count.

So please do us all a favor and make sure you spread your rage equally.

You are either for or against Citizens United.

Stop sitting on the rail @Gbear. You can’t have it both ways.

I am glad the debate is expanding here…there is hope that conservatives and progressives might agree on something and more importantly work together to change it.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 10, 2014  7:44pm

Social BF - facts, please. How much $ and which towns?  As a former banker you should be used to working with numbers.

robn—of course Union members are working for their own interest.  So are Greenwich hedge fund guys who want their earnings taxed as “carried interest” instead of income, or the small business owner who wants accelerated tax write offs on capital expenditures, or commuters who want more subsidies for trains but don’t advocate for buses, or seniors who want lower property taxes because their kids graduated long ago and public education isn’t as valuable to them as it once was.

Self interest drives the capitalist system, and according to the Supreme Court it should drive our electoral system too.  So get mad at unions if you want.  Just save some of that righteous indignation for the other selfish players as well.

posted by: SocialButterfly | November 10, 2014  10:08pm

@LongJohn47: If you wanted facts you should be reading the news releases: “Malloy Pours Millions Into Connecticut Towns and Cities For Election Day” New Haven Register, Nov.1, 2014. As a retired banker you should find time to capture important news releases by yourself. Fortunately I find the time to keep informed.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 11, 2014  12:02am

I have to admit that the New Haven Register isn’t on my reading list.  So I went to the source—Malloy’s press releases in October.  http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/browse.asp?a=4010&bc=0&c=29008

Yes, there’s money being handed out (surprise!), there’s also money saved ($325MM reduction in long-term debt for teacher pensions), multiple actions on the ebola crisis, job creation efforts, replacement of the Walk Bridge for rail commuters, crime statistics—lots of stuff to show that as Governor he gets things done.

All of this was political, of course.  Unfortunately most voters aren’t paying attention until the last 2-3 weeks before election day (if they pay attention at all), and both sides cram a lot of activity and promises into that very small space.

So incumbents gather up everything they’ve been working on and roll it out just before the election, just as challengers trot out everything they say they’ll do differently. 

And yes, this is intended to influence voters.  if you read the Courant’s data analysis, Malloy improved his vote margins over Foley in many parts of the state, not just the cities.  And this time Malloy didn’t need a third party candidate taking votes away from Foley in order to win.

Some of us believe that the purpose of government is to serve the interests of the people as a whole, to pool resources and power in order to get things done that the private sector with its profit mentality doesn’t want to do. 

If we accept that people vote their self interest and believe that that’s okay, then it’s natural to showcase what you’ve done as Governor to make people’s lives better.

CT has a strong governor system; that is to say, a lot of power is vested in that office.  Strong governors, like Malloy, use that power to advance the public good, and one way they do that is by concentrating resources where they are needed.

Finally, I personally believe that the real test for any bonding is whether it looks like an investment that will pay for itself over time.  Upgrading roads and bridges and trains, for example, is an excellent investment in that regard.  Most education bonding is as well. 

Looked at in this perspective, virtually all the bonding announced in October meets that criteria.  Was the timing political?  You bet.  Will the state be better off if the money is spent?  I think so, but only time will tell.

posted by: Suzanne Bates | November 11, 2014  12:24pm

@LongJohn47 I didn’t include the GOP money because the Dems won, so the money they get will talk, not the GOP. And I’m not surprised anyone took the money! Why wouldn’t they? It’s great for the candidates, just not so much for taxpayers.

@shinningstars122 See above. Plus, I really don’t think Citizens United did much at all. Everyone’s blaming more money on that ruling, but the money was going up up up before, and would have after. See the spending on Obama’s 2 campaigns.

@ctguy Love the new “dark money” thing. So Star Wars. Scary. No, I’m not. I think money is going to find a way to chase the dollars government has to spend regardless of how many regulations the gov’t passes. Really, the legislature is in charge of passing those regs, so not surprising they do what helps them.

@Greg I don’t think Malloy won because of money, I think he won because Foley didn’t present a vision.

And, just for the record, I don’t think money on the right is any more virtuous than money on the left – I just take a pragmatic approach here. All of this money is there for a reason. I’ve yet to see a law or program that makes it better. As we’ve seen in CT the last few cycles, spending more money does not necessarily equal winning. That should make us happy.

What bothers me most is the hypocrisy of the state Dems – they say they want clean elections, but they don’t, do they? They want to win. So they work the system so they can say one thing and do another.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 11, 2014  5:53pm

Suzanne,

Yes, the Dem constitutional officer candidates won, though by greatly reduced margins (except Malloy, of course, who did much better than four years ago).

But you’re missing a very key point—in 2010 none of the statewide R candidates used public financing, and in fact several denounced it.  This time all but one did.  What does that tell you?

At the state senate and state rep level, the overwhelming majority of candidates used public financing.  those that didn’t were either in very safe districts (e.g., Scott Frantz), or failed to qualify.

Public financing has become the norm in state elections, and it enables many to run who otherwise wouldn’t be able to mount a credible campaign under the old fundraising system.

You might think that public financing favors incumbents, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Public financing puts candidates on a level playing field in terms of money, and the number of competitive races since the program was introduced in 2008 is much higher than before.

There are problems, of course.  Chief among them is the ridiculous hurdle that third party candidates face, which is totally unfair.  In my mind any candidate who meets the basic requirements (e.g., state rep raising $5000 overall and 150 contributions from towns in his/her district) should get the grant.  The current system favors the two major parties, not incumbents, and it should be changed.

The ability of the state party to spend money is also a problem.  It was enacted after Citizens United when the legislature saw “dark” money begin to flood the state in 2012, and it was purely a defensive measure. 

Malloy exploited it to the max, raising millions for the state party outside the Citizens Election Program (the official name of public financing) which was then spent on “party building” activities, like field organizers.  I assume the Rs did the same.

the state Democratic party also dumped a ton of money into the State Senate campaign of Ted Kennedy, again with the runaround of donations from interested persons (like family members) to the federal account which was then spent to support his election. 

This was clearly wrong, though not illegal, and it shouldn’t have happened.  The Kennedy’s could easily have set up their own 501(c)4 and gathered and spent whatever they wanted, and if I had been in charge I would have asked them to do so.

But the vast majority of state senate and rep campaigns got no support from the state Democratic Party, and they ran and won or lost on the public financing grant.  Consequently, none of them is overly dependent on PACs and are clear to vote their conscience in committee or when legislation comes to the floor.

This is a major shift from pre-2008, and one that CT should be proud of.  It hasn’t eliminated the influence of special interests, but nothing ever will.  It has, however, significantly reduced their power and this should be celebrated.

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 11, 2014  9:40pm

shinningstars122

Ms. Bates with all due respect you are completely off base with that statement.

How about you try digging into this preliminary data from last week?

Nationally groups that are partially or completely non-disclosing spent $219 million, with 69% being spent by GOP groups.

Then you can pile on another $215. 6 million from groups that do not disclose their donors at all.

Its an epidemic Ms. Bates and you think it is business as usual.

Obama’s reelection campaign benefited mightily from the Citizen’s United ruling as did the Romney/Ryan campaign.

Since 2010 each succeeding election has costed more than the previous.

How much is too much for you?

We would all love to know that figure?

$5 billion? $10 billion?

posted by: Suzanne Bates | November 12, 2014  12:39pm

@LongJohn47 You make interesting points, but I wonder if the party will use some of its federal money on senate/house races in 2016 since it won’t have any races at the top of the ticket to prop up. We’ll also see if the Dems in the legislature make any more changes to the program to make things even easier on themselves. Completely agree with your comments on third party candidates.
@shinningstars122 At some point they make themselves fools by spending so much money, because people just start tuning them out. The law of diminishing returns.

posted by: shinningstars122 | November 13, 2014  6:17am

shinningstars122

Ms. Bates I hardly think they feel that way at all.

Pay to play is in our country’s DNA now it is simply and completely legal.

I hope that was sarcasm by the way.