Democratic governors challenge Connecticut campaign finance law

Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:49pm EDT

Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut speaks to mourners gathererd inside the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. REUTERS/Andrew Gombert/Pool

Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut speaks to mourners gathererd inside the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Gombert/Pool

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(Reuters) - The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates.

The lawsuit said the state unfairly treats independent money spent on ads and other political messages by the national group as contributions to particular candidates, and thus subject to campaign finance limits.

"Connecticut's campaign finance laws ... conflict with Supreme Court First Amendment precedent and place a cloud of uncertainty over what DGA may say or do without fear of prosecution," the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut said.

It asked a judge to block the State Elections Enforcement Commission from enforcing its rules. A spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, who will defend the state against the lawsuit, declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

Connecticut is one of 36 U.S. states with a gubernatorial election in November.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of decisions in recent years has cleared the way for big-money donors to play a larger role in political campaigns. A landmark 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case allowed independent groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on issue advertisements, which are not linked to a particular campaign.

Earlier this month, the high court also knocked down an element of federal campaign finance law by allowing individual donors to give money to as many campaigns, parties and committees as they wish.

Those decisions, and the rapid growth in spending by SuperPACs funded by private interests, have served to diminish the relative influence of parties, said Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

"It may be that the parties want to become more like SuperPACs and that may be the only option the have right now given the Supreme Court decisions lately," McLean said.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, faces a potential election rematch with a strong Republican rival, Tom Foley, a businessman who lost the 2010 election by less than 1 percent of the vote.

A March poll by Quinnipiac University showed the two men tied, each having the support of 42 percent of likely voters.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Dan Grebler and Grant McCool)

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Comments (13)
xyz2055 wrote:
The move by the Democrats serves as notice that it isn’t just Republicans with their Grover Norquist’s and Koch Brothers that support the growing Oligarchy in our country. The ability for the most powerful to spend any amount of money they want to support special interest agendas is threatening our country. It puts more pressure on the average voter to not get taken in by the rhetoric. To be independent and do a better job of ACTUALLY vetting the candidates and the issues. It’s the only chance we have to combat the this growing threat.

Apr 23, 2014 9:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bakhtin wrote:
I don’t see how allowing unlimited funds is free speech. Surely allowing those with the most funding to drown out the speech of the lesser funded is a violation of free speech. Free speech is where every voice gets the same airtime on TV and radio, and the same funding for printed media, so they all have an equal voice.

Citizens United has turned US politics into little more than a shouting match. As a genuine democracy needs informed voters, this is not a good thing.

Apr 23, 2014 10:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gahermit wrote:
no political party or pac should be tax exempt

Apr 23, 2014 11:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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