Cleaning Up CT!!!
Ya know, it always seems to be an empty cliche when politicians say that we need to get “lobbyists” out of our election process. And with the SCOTUS soundly favoring the “corporations are people” sentiment as witnessed in Citizen’s United, it’s going to be an uphill battle trying to get the levers of our government back into the hands of the citizenry. However, Connecticut provides an interesting illustration that there is hope. The state passed some very progressive finance-reform laws and the results were telling:
The level of state funding is where Connecticut has distinguished itself from other states that offer public financing. Its grants for legislative candidates are up to six times larger than those provided by Maine and nearly 20 times greater than those offered by Arizona. Unlike those states, whose initial attempts at public financing drew between 25 percent and 35 percent participation rates by legislative candidates, nearly 75 percent of the candidates participated in Connecticut in both 2008 and 2010. One of the consequences of the law: It increased competition for legislative seats. In both 2000 and 2004, at least one of the major parties failed to field a candidate in nearly 40 percent of Connecticut’s legislative races. By 2010, that percentage had fallen to 29.
“The state has made enormous progress, transforming from ‘Corrupticut,’ an example of rampant wrongdoing after years of scandal, into a model for campaign financing and the future of democracy,” says Beth Rotman, who directed Connecticut’s Clean Election Program from its inception through January 2011.
“There’s always been the idea that legislatures will never give up special-interest money,” says Adam Skaggs, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Connecticut’s experience kind of shows the lie in that suggestion.”
Hopefully other states will begin to follow their lead. —John/Uncle Eb