Two Courts Rule For And Against Citizens Election Program

Many people believed that the U.S. 2nd Court of Appeals would leave Connecticut’s campaign finance law alone until after the November elections, but they ruled to today, just as candidates are qualifying before the Primary deadline.

Disagreeing with the lower court on leveling the playing field for 3rd party candidates.  Lifting the ban on lobbyist contributions, while leaving the ban in place for state contractors and apparently also ruled against providing supplemental grants to candidates faced with high spending opponents.

Its a mixed bag, disappointing in my view.  We would like to see the playing field leveled, lobbyist contributions at least limited, and the supplemental grants provided.  It makes no sense that giving supplemental grants to one candidate limits the free speech of an opponent, or that erecting higher standards for third party candidates serves a vibrant democracy.

Meanwhile, also today, the Superior Court ruled in favor of the State Election Enforcement Commissions interpretation of the law, allowing for the combining of contributions from Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

New Haven Independent <story>

Hartford Courant <blog>

AP <story>

Some good news in the New Haven Independent Article:

[State Sen. Andrew McDonald], noted that the Second Circuit ruling doesn’t immediately take effect. The panel returned the case to a lower court judge who originally decided it, Stefan Underhill, for review. That can take weeks or months. And the gubernatorial campaigns were not parties to the federal suit.

In addition, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which administers the law, intends to ask the the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to review Tuesday’s decision en banc (before all 25 judges); and barring a victory there, to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal advised candidates to proceed under the current law’s rules for now.

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