The state Senate voted along party lines to override Gov. Rell’s veto of the updated campaign finance reform law. Parts of the landmark law were found to be unconstitutional by the 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals. The state House returns to consider an override vote on Aug. 13.
The appeals court objected to the “trigger provisions” of the original law which granted a publicly financed candidate more public money when the opposing, self-funding candidate spent a certain amount—the “triggering” of more funds. The state Senate decided the way to fix that was to grant the entire amount—$6 million for a gubernatorial candidate—upfront. Gov. Rell vetoed that fix, saying she couldn’t support spending more money.
State Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney (D-New Haven) countered that it is not a new expenditure at all because the $6 million was already budget for, anticipating that the entire $6 million would be triggered. Looney points out to The Shad that the bill Rell vetoed actually decreased the maximum amount of money a candidate could receive. “Arguments that we increased spending are bogus,” Looney said. “On the contrary, the original bill allowed for a maximum of $9 million for a gubernatorial candidate—$6 million to the candidate [if all the triggers were met] and another $3 million for ‘independent expenditures.’ The bill that the governor vetoed didn’t have the extra $3 million,” he said.
State House sources tell The Shad they have the votes to override in that chamber too, they just needed to find a date when enough state Representatives could get back to the capitol. That date is the 13th.
Public financing of campaigns has been a hot point of contention in this year’s gubernatorial contests. Republicans Tom Foley and Oz Griebel say it’s a misuse of taxpayers’ money. Republican Mike Fedele is participating in the program. On the Democratic side, Dan Malloy was the first of any candidate to qualify and is participating. Ned Lamont says he supports the program but is still self-funding, saying he has to self-fund to compete with the likes of a multimillionaire like Foley.