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State Election Watchdog Stiffs Ganim On Public Campaign Funds, Ganim Pledges Court Action

June 21st, 2017 · 18 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, News and Events, State Politics

Ganim Testa fundraiser

Ganim and Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, a formidable fundraising team. CT Mirror photo.

If Mayor Joe Ganim is to receive public campaign funds in his quest for statewide office, he’ll need a court order. The State Elections Enforcement Commission on Wednesday validated a proposed declaratory ruling in May disqualifying Ganim from participating in the state’s Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races as he explores a run for governor. The commission’s unanimous ruling was based on a 2013 law banning candidates convicted of felonies related to their public office from receiving public campaign grants. Ganim was convicted of public corruption in 2003. See SEEC ruling here.

Ganim in recent days has interviewed lawyers to take his case to court. He has a $100 a head fundraiser scheduled for Thursday night at Testo’s Restaurant as part of an exploratory committee that allows him to raise a maximum personal contribution of $375. He has already banked close to $200,000 for his 2019 mayoral reelection in a separate candidate committee. Ganim is not precluded from running for statewide office, just the mechanism to raise money. If he runs for statewide office without access to public money he’d have to raise it the old-fashioned way through big donations.

Ganim statement:

“This ruling is disappointing but not surprising, given the draft previously released by SEEC. The law it is based on, however, is patently unfair and most likely unconstitutional. Those like me with a felony conviction long ago in their past have the legal ability in our state to restore their voting rights, run for and serve in elected office. There is simply no rational justification for denying equal access to public financing for all candidates who qualify for the ballot. This law makes it nearly impossible for tens of thousands of citizens to compete at a run for any state office or elected position. This section of the law also makes no public policy sense. It effectively prevents a candidate who has overcome parts of their past and restored their professional status from participating in a clean elections program. It knowingly and intentionally creates an uneven playing field with almost all state office candidates in Connecticut.

“We need to continue to have a nationally recognized clean elections program, but one that provides a level playing field for all residents who want to consider making a contribution through public service. Ultimately, the strength of our democracy comes from the ability of voters–not the elections commission–to choose who should be elected governor or to any office in Connecticut.

“Providing some candidates access to nearly $8,000,000 in public campaign financing while preventing others the ability to even compete for those dollars violates both the equal protection and free speech clauses of the US Constitution. I will be examining this ruling in detail with my legal team in the coming days, and will likely seek judicial intervention on this important voter rights issue.

“This is about fairness for Connecticut voters to have the right to choose who they want to represent them as much as is it for good citizens to have the right to seek public service in a fair system.”

The genesis of the 2013 law stems from state elections charges against former State Senator Ernie Newton from his 2012 legislative campaign. Newton was accused of falsifying campaign donations to qualify for a public grant. He went to trial, was convicted on lesser charges and received a six-month sentence. Newton is out pending appeal.

The Citizens Election Program was approved by the state legislature following the conviction of former Governor John Rowland more than 10 years ago. Under the program, to lessen the influence of money, candidates must reach a financial threshold in increments of $100 and less to leverage a larger campaign grant. For the 2018 races for state constitutional offices and legislature, it is estimated the state will expend roughly $40 million in public campaign grants.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Hey Joe you stole from the public , you were sent to prison and now you want the public to give you public monies to run for governor. That is pure arrogance. You have got to stop listenin to people telling you how great you are. Joe let me tell you the truth here. You are a lying ex con who fooled the black community into thinking you give a shit. You don’t. Your second term will go down as the worst mayoral term in Bridgeport’s history.

    now to Mario; Mario shame on you for being involved with this shithead.

  • Tom White

    Andy is on-target. What blatant arrogance! Let him test the constitutionality of the law in court. All potential voters will see his arrogance.

    Does everyone remember that he lied under oath during his trial and had his sentence increased?

  • Bob Walsh

    Yaaaa! My dog ate my campaign finance report!!!!

  • Bob Walsh

    “The law it is based on, however, is patently unfair and most likely unconstitutional.”
    Most likely unconstitutional???
    That is not what he was saying when this began. Then it was without a doubt unconstitutional. Hmm…….

  • John Marshall Lee

    If Ganim2 could maintain the fiction that he is interested in Bridgeport better than he is doing it, would people be less aggressive in offering their feelings?

    Just this week he was late for sitting as Chair of the City Council. Why?
    And when he did show, wasn’t he ill-prepared to preside over a scheduled hearing on parking meters, something processed rapidly through his office about 75 hours previously? Memory issues or things not going ‘my way’?

    And that brings at least five high school graduations were he is listed on the programs for comments or diploma distribution where he had scheduling issues and sent replacements at the last moment? What possible issues can be taking so much time or are so troubling to Ganim2? And why is so much time getting spent in Hartford? Could he be sitting in on Mayor Bronin’s staff meetings hoping to catch the signs to order the State’s largest City? If he can’t get it right with the citizens of the City, respectfully for all citizens, young and old, black, white or of any other color, and of whatever financial means, what is the base for an assault on so-called statewide office?

    What is the financial calculus when you threaten to sue a governmental body, Mayor Ganim? Do you huff and puff first assuming that this is threatening to judicial bodies as well as hopefully rallying your local supporters to your side? Forgetab outit!! Whoever did elect you, unless they got a job (when you were firing the 100 positions, remember)is growing ever more disappointed with your tall stories. Actually the decrease in the taxable Grand List is a “deep story” that some people are still learning. If their tax stayed stable, your word was gold. But when they went for an appraisal for a refi, or a reverse mortgage, or an equity line of credit, they found that the 54 mil rate did cost them added tax as you lowered their property value….and that was real.
    Assuming you were to prevail in a court case, how long will that take? What are the odds that you consider favorable? You can tell us your calculations honestly. It would likely be more favorable then voter speculation. By the way, with a family of lawyers (perhaps one or more able to help with such an action and less than an outside firm, maybe) were you to lose such a case after investing the expense of the legal action, are you likely to experience “remorse”? Just asking because you betray such little sense of connection with the people, their issues and the genuine longer term problems of the City, and people can see that. Where are your feelings? I there any room for the feelings of others to enter your calculations? Time will tell.

  • Jimfox

    It’s almost impossible to beat a State Commission’s unanimous ruling.

    Joe should just take Testa’s Mafia Money that will come to him like Pizza boxes on a Friday night, and keep Quite!
    Who we kidding if Ganim receives public campaign grant in court he’ll do both!

  • Ron Mackey

    Mayor Ganim, this is what you need to be focus on:

    Niche’s Safest Places to Live in Connecticut 2017
    96. Bridgeport
    Overall grade: C
    Public Schools: C-
    Crime & Safety: C-
    Population: 147,340

  • Donald Day

    Public campaign funds is not only a Joe Ganim issue it’s a State of Connecticut problem. Can Connecticut still afford to do this?

    Nearly 200 legislative candidates had qualified for funding under Connecticut’s clean-elections program, with the state disclosing that the 2016 election cycle it handed out $8 million in grants for that campaign cycle.

    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.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Hey Donald, the clean election idea is very good, the exicution in this cash strapped state, not so much. Elections are out of control expensive, obscene even, says the paid political fund raiser.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Joe Ganim out to make an appointment to see a proctologist. A LARGE BUG CRAWLED UP HIS ASS.

  • Bob Walsh

    Will someone tell Joe to let Mario know to year his BIG BOY TOES and cut out the grade school look.
    Oh I forgot. That’s supposed to be the innocent young man look that they think will foll the FBI.

  • Frank Gyure

    It became apparent that Joe Ganim had no interest in both the short-term and the long term in LAST years budget deliberations. He put out a budget with a killer increase in the mill rate and Ganim walked away from actively going to the Bridgeport Community to try to rally support for his budget. He was nowhere to be found.

  • Donald Day

    Hey Jennifer, how you been? Maybe it was a good idea, but has the level of congressional competence gotten better irrespective of who paid for the election?

    In 2014 and 2016 the State spent $41 million on elections yet Bridgeport school system is being underfunded. What could $41 million do in educating the children of Connecticut? Let me as a voter decide if I want to fund education or these lazy ass politicians elections.

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