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Seeking Public Campaign Cash For Governor Run, Ganim Suing State Watchdog Group

August 2nd, 2017 · 7 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events, State Politics

A lobbyist convicted of bribing a state official would not be permanently prohibited from receiving public campaign funds, nor a convicted murderer, according to a lawsuit expected to be filed this week in federal district court on behalf of Mayor Joe Ganim who’s seeking relief from a state ruling that blocks his participation in Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program based on his 2003 conviction on public corruption charges. Ganim is exploring a 2018 run for governor.

Louis George, a lawyer with Hasset & George, argues in the complaint that the State Elections Enforcement Commission which approves public campaign grants violated Ganim’s constitutional rights in a narrowly tailored provision of campaign finance law approved in 2013. The genesis of the provision was state charges leveled against former State Senator Ernie Newton for violations of campaign finance laws during his 2012 legislative run. Newton is appealing his conviction and subsequent six-month sentencing. He’s also a candidate for City Council this year. The original public money law was passed following the conviction of former Governor John Rowland on public corruption charges.

What’s at stake? Millions in public campaign cash, more than $1 million in a Democratic primary and more than $6 million for the general election if Ganim gets that far. Under the CEP program gubernatorial candidates must raise $250,000 in donations of $100 and less to receive a primary jackpot of $1,354,250 based on the 2014 statewide election cycle. The SEEC indexes the size of the grant each election year.

This lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of these two provisions of Connecticut General Statutes:

(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, no candidate may apply to the State Elections Enforcement Commission for a grant from the fund under the Citizens’ Election Program if such candidate has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, in a court of competent jurisdiction, any (A) criminal offense under this title unless at least eight years have elapsed from the date of the conviction or plea or the completion of any sentence, whichever date is later, without a subsequent conviction of or plea to another such offense, or (B) a felony related to the individual’s public office, other than an offense under this title in accordance with subparagraph (A) of this subdivision.

And section 9-706(b)(12), which requires a candidate applying for CEP funds to execute a written certification stating in part:

The candidate has never been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, in a court of competent jurisdiction, a felony related to the individual’s public office, other than a criminal offense under this title in accordance with subdivision (11) of this subsection.

Ganim is not prohibited from running for governor. He’s barred from public campaign dollars for the voluntary program. If he presses on without public funds he can raise it the old-fashioned way through a maximum personal contribution of $3,500 for governor. Since inception of CEP about 10 years ago no candidate for statewide office has been successful running outside of public dollars. The lawsuit asserts the law and SEEC decision creates an unfair hardship for candidates such as Ganim who’ll spend most of his time raising money while qualifying public grant recipients have no such burden.

In addition the lawsuit argues that prohibiting Ganim from CEP fails to accomplish the intent of the statute encouraging the expenditure of funds without assistance from special interest groups, or anyone who might expect later favor.

The complaint cites for relief the First Amendment regarding a person’s freedom of association and freedom of speech including the right to participate freely in political activities such as elections. It also asserts the law banning Ganim undermines the CEP’s goals of combating public corruption and promoting clean elections.

The lawsuit defendant is Michael Brandi, executive director and general counsel for the State Elections Enforcement Commission in his official capacity.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • John Marshall Lee

    While Mayor Ganim pays an attorney to argue his case, perhaps the taxpaying public in Bridgeport should float a petition to the Court indicating that as taxpayers in the State of CT they resent the use of these funds in the situation of anyone who has abused the public trust as Ganim did.
    Secondly it can be argued, Ganim2 is not open, accountable, and transparent as promoted in his campaign and the taxpayers of Bridgeport resent his lies “Stop Raising Taxes” and lack of critical priorities for families in the community around education and youth activities. Local funding for education has been flat for several years.
    Bridgeport residents and taxpayers have provided a test case for whether “a second chance” for Ganim has been a good idea. Let the people speak today, in the only manner practical as they are routinely shut down in the City Council chambers by Committee chairs. What will the people say? Time will tell.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Joe Ganim is a little slow on the uptake. What plays down here in Bridgeport will not go over in the bedroom communities surrounding Hartford and New Haven.

    Things must be slow if Joe has the time to sue for campaign welfare.

  • Lifelong Bpt

    Please tell me there is someone in BPt that is running in 2 years that will retire him from office? Then he go back to Air BNB or UBER whatever the hell else is out there.
    Did he not notice the NATIONAL reaction to winning BPT mayor again?

  • Frank Gyure

    to put it succintly, Ganim is dead in the water as to any statewide political campaign..etc. I doubt that Ganim can win even re-election in Bridgeport as Mayor. Ganim is a lame duck/dead duck in the water. It’s only a matter of time until Ganim becomes history.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Seeing as Mario/Joe skipped July as far as having a fundraiser,expect one in August,not sure if it will be for Joe’s ridiculous Governor run or the even more far fetched re-election for mayor,either way Joe&Mario make money this month…

  • Bob Walsh

    If the city of Bridgeport is wasting a dime on this lawsuit I will sue the city of Bridgeport

  • John Marshall Lee

    Joe’s Saga…. (August, 2017)
    Ganim1 had a law license, a family, a lovely home, and a fond future when he was elected Mayor that first time. Whatever his character or opportunity, bad choices were made that cost the public and Ganim dearly. After serving seven years for multiple felony convictions, the home sold his law license lost, the family apart, and the future was uncertain when he departed the half-way house. Regaining the law license seemed to founder on the absence of remorse for and recognition of the damages done to and suffered by the community. Fame and fortune…..disappeared?

    What to do? A campaign for Mayor? Accountable and transparent? Stop Raising Taxes!! A primary win? An election win? Improbable, but happened! City residence? B2B caper? Two years into the ‘second chance’, perhaps less than satisfying? Office of PUBLIC INTEGRITY? Campaign promises trod into the dust when taxes rose! No pursuit of predecessor fiscal games? Accountable for any priorities? Steady ignorance of school operating budgets and education of 21,000 youth? Frequent insubstantial photo ops with Council members?

    Ganim2 looks out to the Governorship opening in 2018? “Statewide campaign” funding with multiple events builds the war chest? But what do statewide voters see in Ganim2 that is transferable or scalable to a State in trouble? Parking meter initiatives and expertise?

    What if the war chest gets large enough to help a beleaguered State Democratic party compete? Is it possible to polish remorse and secure a right to practice law again? How does the taxpaying public feel they have been served with Ganim2’s quiet personal “bridge building”? Too many questions? Time will tell.

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