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Is State’s Taxpayer-Funded Campaign Finance Program Worth The Investment?

March 3rd, 2018 · 11 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Raise $250,000 in small donations and you receive a gubernatorial primary check of $1.25 million. Win the primary and you receive $6.5 million to spend on the general election. The other state constitutional offices, as well as candidates for state legislature, also receive corresponding amounts based on low-donor fundraising qualifications. Who pays for this? Taxpayers. Connecticut’s Citizens Elections Program of publicly funded races to lessen the influence of campaign contributors has its supporters and opponents. Some Republicans want to scrap the program that is expected to cost $40 million this year in a state bleeding money.

The voluntary public financing program was launched about 10 years ago in the aftermath of Governor John Rowland’s public corruption charges that forced him from office. The most anyone can donate to a statewide campaign is $100. For legislative races it’s $250. But once qualified, candidates devote full attention to wooing voters instead of begging for dough. You can opt out of the program. Some wealthy candidates this cycle will spend their own money. Mayor Joe Ganim is raising money outside the program. His 2003 conviction on public corruption charges prohibits his participation.

The Citizens Election Program is policed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission with a myriad of rules. With all the candidates for governor this cycle, spending will break records. Has the program become too expensive?

The Hartford Courant’s Russell Blair has more on this:

The crowded field for governor means it could be the costliest year yet for Connecticut’s public campaign finance program, intensifying criticism from Republicans who say taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to fund political campaigns.

With an expected price tag this year approaching $40 million, the program has been a frequent target for budget cuts as the state faces perpetual deficits, even among gubernatorial candidates who plan to apply for an election grant.

“We should get rid of it,” said Peter Lumaj, an attorney from Fairfield and one of more than a dozen Republican gubernatorial contenders. “People should be going out and getting donations instead of the taxpayers” financing campaigns, he said.

Full story here.


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11 Comments so far ↓

  • Donald Day

    State officials said that public campaign financing awards to candidates for 2014 will total more than $33 million – a record amount for Connecticut’s taxpayer-funded election system.

    The grants range from $28,150 for House races to $95,710 for the Senate. I no longer want to pay these clowns to run for public office and I think that $33 million dollars would be better spent on anything rather than electing clowns for public office, ANYTHING.

  • Ron Mackey

    Is State’s Taxpayer-Funded Campaign Finance Program Worth The Investment? HELL NO.

  • John Marshall Lee

    RON AND DON have voted…NO on taxpayer funded campaign finance as process in the State of CT. Neither man sees the value in the expense. How many persons of color, otherwise qualified to run for these public offices, have the wherewithal to self-fund a campaign and must depend on potential lobbyists for a great deal of fiscal backing?? So if the current campaing finance program is scrapped, does that mean it is another tool of “white supremacists”? What am I missing?

    Voting is a civil right, and taxpayer cough up real cash to maintain the machinery to maintain the voting process. The expense is nearly the same whether we have 15% of registered voting or 55% of registered voting or probably 85%. Why not send a bill for $10 to all who are registered but fail to vote in regular elections? New source of revenue? Reminds registered of a right that they can but do not live up to? Less than a movie on the big screen? Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      JML, the only thing you do is to question things but you provide NO solution just questions. By problem with the system in Connecticut is the formula.

  • Donald Day

    Those were opinions not votes. What’s the difference of having your head up the ass of a lobbyist or your political party?

  • John Marshall Lee

    New source of funds…..possible solution????
    Lack of voting by registered…..possible solution???
    Whose head is where? Time will tell.

  • Tom White

    Well Ron Mackey, JML had a suggestion. What say you?

  • Penfield Light

    Campaign finance is often trotted out when the people are unhappy with the notion that money buys elections. How does that change just because the money comes from the people?

    When we allow government to take from the people and spend on themselves we are merely exacerbating the problem.

    So we give candidates public money to run for office, they get elected and then what? They think it’s their job to continue to spend public money since that’s what got them to their position in the first place. The government doesn’t actually produce anything, they take from the people and redistribute as they see fit. If we give our money to them so that they can convince us to let them rule us, how does that benefit the people?

    Lumaj is 100% correct.

  • Donald Day

    Well said Penfield Light, my sentiments exactly.

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