Legislative solutions currently under consideration in 2016:
HB 5511, AN ACT CONCERNING DISCLOSURE OF COORDINATED AND INDEPENDENT SPENDING IN CAMPAIGN FINANCE:
This bill passed the House, only to die waiting on the Senate Calendar to be called for a vote. Connecticut, due in large part to the work of the Government Administration And Elections committee over many years, has arguably the best campaign finance system in the country. But an activist Supreme Court has weakened some of our laws. New avenues have opened for moneyed interests to exert undue electoral influence. Proposed improvements in this bill tighten up disclosure and regulation of independent expenditures.
SB 342, An Act Concerning Electronic Filing of Campaign Reports: The bill passed! It requires electronic filing of campaign finance disclosure statements with the State Elections Enforcement Commission for certain committees that raise or spend one thousand dollars or more, with several weakening exceptions that may or may not be abused in the future (and thus bear scrutiny.)
Budget Threat Averted: As often happens in deficit years, an attempt was made to raid the Clean Elections Fund. This is the heart of CT's publicly funded election system, which CCAG believes is the best in the nation. CCAG worked tirelessly behind the scenes, with its allies, to stop this penny-wise and pound-foolish attempted raid.
Organizing, education, and monitoring goals in 2016:
Democracy Spring: CCAG went to Washington D.C. and joined with hundreds of national groups from across the country in calling for the end of big money in politics. CCAG Director Tom Swan joined the likes of Mark Ruffalo and Noam Chomsky in publicly endorsing and assisting with the event. Only public oversight and control of campaign funding can ensure that every American has equal access to our democracy. Find out more about Democracy Spring, a national week of civil disobedience that took place during the week of April 11th-16th. Visit www.democracyspring.org for details on how it was structured and what you might do to end the domination by concentrated private wealth over our national election system.
Issue background, relevant reports, and related news:
The $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge was a contest tapping the creative potential of Americans across all political stripes with short, powerful videos in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United and get big money out of politics. The contest launched August 12, 2015 and ended December 2, with final round winners on February 2, 2016, and the grand prize winner announced on February 2, 2016 . You can watch all the winning videos here. Click here for the contest's complete original website.
From the 2015 legislative session:
Substitute for Raised S.B. No. 1126 AAC Revisions to Campaign Finance Laws:
2015's campaign finance bill had several important provisions. Dark money coming in to support or oppose Connecticut candidates would have been subject to disclosure. The bill would have closed loopholes and required outside groups to reveal all funding source for campaign-related expenditures, whether direct or through intermediaries (a current masking strategy).
Specifically it required disclosure not only of the top five donors to any entity making independent expenditures, but also the top five donors to those organizations included in the top five original donors.
- the bill would have capped the amount of organizational expenditures a state central party can spend on a candidate at $250,000, which had been made unlimited in 2013
- clarified the use of the word "candidate" to include incumbents and individuals who eventually run for office, meaning that illegal coordination may occur even before the individual is registered as a candidate (for example someone with an exploratory committee would be considered a candidate)
- would have increased PAC registration rules to include the name of an individual establishing a PAC as well as anyone acting on his or her behalf
- increased the maximum penalty for failing to file campaign expenditure reports