Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Foley isn’t giving up just yet. The Greenwich mega-millionaire is appealing yesterday’s decision to allow rival Lt. Governor Mike Fedele to start spending his public funding on his campaign for governor.
One just needs to look to recent history to realize Fedele may not want to start popping corks just yet and may want to start spending the money on TV ads and elsewhere very quickly. This is the second time a crucial issue has ended up in court in this election cycle. And the first should have taught us all a lesson.
State Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz was originally deemed qualified to serve and therefore run for attorney general by a superior court judge. The question was over whether she has the required ten years of “active practice” of law. After losing at that level, the state Republican party appealed. The state Supreme Court reversed the lower court and Bysiewicz is nowhere to be found on any ballot for any office. The Foley – Fedele battle has an entirely different set of circumstances and points of contention but the lesson is: Nothing is over until it’s over. Real profound, The Shad realizes, but true nonetheless.
In the meantime, Fedele is free to start spending the $2.1 million he was deemed qualified to receive under the new (and now in doubt) public campaign financing law. Foley claimed Fedele was not entitled to the money because he pooled his qualifying contributions with those of lt. gubernatorial candidate Mark Boughton with some contributors apparently giving to both (in donations of $100 or less). The original idea of the small donation requirement was for a candidate to prove he had enough support to “earn” public money. Pooling lowers the bar.
Foley, for his part, is not only appealing but points to another seismic court ruling yesterday, this one from the 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals (see above). The court ruled, among other things, that the “triggering” provisions in the law that allow participating candidates for keep a spending pace with non-participants are unconstitutional and therefore Fedele at least doesn’t deserve at least that extra money.
From the public’s point of view, Foley is in danger of looking like the guy with hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk while simultaneously trying to stop Fedele from buying Marvin Gardens. Doesn’t seem fair to the average voter irrespective of the actual law.