The odds of the Citzen's Election Program (CEP)- Connecticut's public financing of elections - surviving intact for the 2010 election cycle grow longer by the hour. Lawmakers, in fact, may be cooking up a remedy that preserves public financing for Governor and statewide offices, but eliminates the CEP for legislative seats.
With the reform law in jeopardy and the presence of at least three or more well-healed candidates in state races willing to spend gazzilions to buy an election, the old axiom first spoken by the 1960s CA Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh applies to CT more than ever: "Money is the mother's milk of politics." There's a good chance we'll see lobbying kings Pat Sullivan, Jay Malycynsky, Brendan Kennedy and their brethren writing more checks than planned at the Officer's Club and other watering holes around Hartford before this campaign season ends.
Preserving any part of the CEP will be hard. That's too bad. The law's implementation has spawned an unusually capable field of candidates for statewide offices in both parties who saw a level-playing field. They need a system in which their ideas and records might count as much as all the "mother's milk" they'd have to raise to compete.
All of this stems from the Green Party of CT vs. Garfield case and a ruling that found the law was too restrictive for minor party candidates to get in the game. The ACLU and the Greens want to make sure the field is level and not tilted toward a two-party monopoly. One of the good questions to pose now is how have other states such as Maine been able to implement and preserve public financing without adverse court rulings.
On Monday March 15th at the Hartford Public Library the Hartford Votes ~ Hartford Vota Coalition is sponsoring a panel discussion on the issues of money in politics and campaign finance reform, and how it affects Connecticut. The panelists include: Heath Fahle, Policy Director, Yankee Institute; Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director, Connecticut Common Cause; Beth Rotman, Director of the Citizens' Elections Program, SEEC; State Representative Gary Holder Winfield, New Haven and others. The forum is set for Monday, March 15th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the HPL, 500 Main Street, Hartford. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860.695.6282.