Role of Parties Increases In 2014 Fundraising Efforts
The Connecticut Democratic Party maintained its fundraising pace in May and was able to raise about $195,000, including six $10,000 donations from individuals and $20,000 in donations from Political Action Committees.
The party also brought in money from Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy’s re-election campaign, which purchased a voter file from the party for $10,000.
The Connecticut Republican Party was able to raise about $35,900 during that same time period. However, while May wasn’t a large fundraising month for the GOP, they still have about $157,000 cash on hand after a better than usual April.
According to federal reports, the Democratic Party raised about $1 million through May 31 and the Republican Party raised about $454,702.
Reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission show that Democrats raised about $239,227 and Republicans raised about $97,317 in their state accounts during the first quarter of 2014.
With candidates qualifying on a weekly basis for clean election grants, the amount of money the party has to spend on their campaigns has become more important than in years past. A change in the state’s campaign finance laws in 2013 allowed state parties to spend unlimited amounts of money on clean election candidates.
The argument was that candidates had to be given the power to counter the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and the potentially large amounts of money coming from outside groups.
Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. agreed that the relevance of the parties was “amplified by the changes in the law.”
He said it made the party the conduit for major donations that can no longer be made to clean election candidates. Those participating in the clean election program can only accept donations under $100. Individuals can now give the party up to $10,000.
“For supplemental coordinated money the state party is the only game in town,” Labriola said Tuesday in a phone interview.
The Democratic Party already figured out that it played an increased role in the 2014 election and increased its field staff months ago, while other party staffers shifted over to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign.
The Republican Party is in a transition period too. Tom Foley, the endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate, finished raising the $250,000 he needs to qualify for the clean election grant and is sending some of his staff, including his Finance Director Lauren Casper, to the Republican Party to help with their fundraising efforts.
Labriola declined to comment specifically on any personnel changes beyond the addition of Casper.
“We have the potential for a robust fundraising effort,” Labriola said. “We are transitioning staff to execute our victory program.”
Labriola admitted that the Republican Party is a little behind in its fundraising efforts, but unlike the Democratic Party it had a contested convention and it will have an Aug. 12 primary. He said they are trying to transition as quickly as possible into their new role.
The 2013 campaign finance reform legislation also eliminated the restrictions regarding negative campaigning on behalf of publicly funded candidates.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey has said that particular change was allowed because Super PACs spending money against candidates can go negative with just weeks to go in a campaign. He said if that candidate is publicly funded, they probably don’t have enough resources to respond to a false accusation. He said they wanted to make sure that a PAC controlled by legislative leaders or the party would be able to respond on behalf of that candidate.
However, it should be noted that political parties will only be able to spend money from their state accounts on state candidates. Each party’s federal account is reserved for Connecticut’s Congressional delegation.