The state House of Representatives yesterday completed the override of Gov. Rell’s veto of the bill amending the state’s historic campaign finance reform law to comply with a federal court which struck parts of the original bill.
The House took the action to satisfy the court but not before House Minority Leader Republican Larry Cafero spent plenty of time trying to portray the bill as a handout to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Malloy. In any given House session, Cafero’s bluster is enough to make even hard-core politicos change the channel from CT-N to “E! True Hollywood Story—Cory Haim.” But yesterday’s diatribe was particularly filled with nonsense.
Cafero’s argument was that the fix of the campaign finance law would benefit only one person—Malloy when the truth is, Gov. Rell’s flip-flop on public financing in general and her subsequent veto of the ‘fix’ came only after it was clear self-financing, mega-millionaire Tom Foley would be the Republican nominee to succeed her. Consider:
• The governor was a supporter (although not one of the framers) of the original campaign finance reform bill that would grant up to $9 million to a qualifying candidate for governor. She vetoed the ‘fix’ that contained a maximum $6 million to candidates. Her veto came only after it was fairly clear that a self-financing candidate (Foley) would be the nominee.
• Even the $9 million was already budgeted for and expected to be spent.
• The governor called granting the $6 million in the fix “welfare for political candidates.” So what was the $9 million in the bill she signed and heralded? And she seems to be skating on accountability for this transparent change of heart.
• Cafero took the “the best defense is a good offense” approach to the issue and tried to portray the ‘fix’ as a hand-out to Malloy because he is now the only publicly financed candidate. Despite his drivel on the floor of the House, Cafero is an extremely smart guy. He knows full well that the original bill was passed when the race for governor was wide-open as well as the fact that the ‘fix’ affects all candidates for governor in years to come. It’s absolute foolishness to imply the bill was some sort of big favor to Malloy.
• It’s Gov. Rell who should have to explain her change of heart on the issue. In her closing months in office, she continues to have no sense of purpose or conviction.
• Finally, it’s not like Malloy will get an even playing field with his public financing. Foley will likely outspend him four or five to one anyway. Then again, Ned Lamont did just that and when the voters compared the two—millionaire businessman versus tested, successful government leader, it was an old fashion butt-kicking of Lamont by Malloy.