US APPEALS COURT RULING MAKES A ‘COMPLETE MESS’ OF CT’S CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM LAW

Even the most veteran attorneys at the state Capitol don’t know quite what to make of the US Court of Appeals decision striking down some and upholding other parts of Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law. The law, passed in 2005 after much debate and refinement, allowed public financing for qualifying candidates for everything from the state legislature to governor.

One veteran attorney, without expressing an opinion on the ruling itself, tells The Shad the court basically blew up the state’s law and no one is quite sure what impact it has on the current election cycle or how it can be fixed to satisfy the 2nd Circuit. In essence, it’s a potentially disastrous minefield of uncertainty.

The court said the state cannot ban lobbyists’ or their families’ contributions to political candidates; cannot ban contractors or lobbyists from soliciting contributions; but can deal with funding for minor parties just as it does. Also importantly, the court ruled unconstitutional the “triggering provisions” of the law—when a self-funded candidate spends a certain amount, more public funding is granted to the participating candidate under the law.

The 2nd Circuit also basically said, in laymen’s terms, “And oh, by the way, we know you’re neck deep in the current election cycle so how about fixing this fast.”