Barack Obama’s rejection of the federal public finance system sets up an interesting question for candidates running for state office. Should they opt in or out?
Connecticut’s groundbreaking public finance system, although noble on paper eliminating special interest money, is a scam created by incumbents to protect incumbents. Want to run for state representative? You raise $5,000 in small contributions and win a $25k windfall. For state senate raise $15k and receive $85k for a total of $100,000. Problem is, it’s extremely difficult to defeat an incumbent with such a low expenditure. Incumbent state reps such as Chris Caruso and Bob Keeley, in the position to make friends by virtue of their positions, are difficult to defeat under any circumstances. Throw in their franking privileges, another legal scam, and it’s even tougher. Franking privileges include the taxpayer-paid government mailers that serve as de facto campaign pieces. “Look at all the great shit I’ve done for you as your representative” the government mail piece proclaims shamelessly, a map highlighting the millions for this and the millions for that. It’s called power of incumbency. And a lot of the time, the projects highlighted on the map never even materialize because they never reach state bonding authorization.
Want to even the playing field? Eliminate franking privileges during election years.
The public fundraising system is voluntary so candidates can go the traditional route to raise more money but such a move could set them up for criticism. There is a flip side to this: many challengers cannot raise more than the legal threshold provided in the public financing system so they take the free dough.
This is the first year the Connecticut finance system will be implemented broadly so we’ll see how many incumbents will be taken out.
Fig’s New Farm
My ol’ brother in arms CT Post reporter Mike Mayko has a story today wondering why former State Sen. Ernie Newton, doing time for accepting bribes, was transferred from the federal camp in Fort Dix, NJ to the one in Lewisburg, PA. The Lewisburg Camp features a special drug program for offenders with a long substance abuse history. (My guess is, Ernie’s probably in it.) Entering the program that focuses on life skills rather than the typical mundane world of doing time (do the time, don’t let the time do you), provides eligibility to shave many months off an inmate’s sentence. It would place Ernie on the street a lot sooner than his scheduled release in the summer of 2010. Not all inmates have time shaved for entering the program, but it’s time better spent. I get the feeling the Moses of his people will be running for something again.
Another Fabs Film Fest
Hey, you missed the screening of The Accidental Mayor, filmmaker Larry Locke’s docudrama of Johnny Fabs? You have another shot to see it to benefit the Burroughs Community Center. Details below:
After a sold out first screening, the public is invited to attend a second benefit screening of THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR, a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Larry Locke, of Westport, Connecticut. The screening, scheduled for Monday, June 30, 2008 at 7:00 P.M. at the Community Theatre Foundation, 1424 Post Road, Fairfield, will benefit the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport.
Filmed from 2005 through 2008, Locke had unprecedented access to John Fabrizi’s inner sanctum, capturing both the successes and failures of his dramatic four-year tenure as mayor. THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR is a raw, compelling tale of a man whose personal struggles directly reflect those of his hometown.
In 2003, Fabrizi became THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR of Bridgeport. Could he live up to the terms of office? Surprising even himself, he defied expectation and helped his city believe again after 40 years of missed opportunities and broken promises. Fabrizi wore Bridgeport on his sleeve but would it be enough to overcome his personal demons? Under the glaring lights of the national media, Fabrizi takes Bridgeport on a wild roller coaster ride that leaves both him and his city changed forever. For more information, visit www.contemporarylives.com
Tickets are $25.00 each. Proceeds will benefit the Burroughs Community Center. Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling the Burroughs Community Center at (203) 334-0293 or by visiting the Center, 2470 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and Sunday from 9:30 A.M. – 3:30 P.M. One ticket will be reserved for each $25 donation made online at https://www.donatetoburroughs.org/ donation_page.html.