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Fight for Clean Elections Moves Forward

PHOTO: Campaign money played a bigger role in 2014 than in any midterm in history, But Connecticut's U.S. senators are take less PAC money than average, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal accepting only 14 percent of his campaign funding from PAC money. Credit: Official U.S. Senate Photo
PHOTO: Campaign money played a bigger role in 2014 than in any midterm in history, But Connecticut's U.S. senators are take less PAC money than average, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal accepting only 14 percent of his campaign funding from PAC money. Credit: Official U.S. Senate Photo
March 9, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. – The corrupting influence of money in politics is getting worse, according to recent reports by Clean Slate Now and the Center for Responsive Politics.

They show that last year's midterm election was the most expensive in history.

Outside spending on Senate elections has more than doubled since 2010, and campaign contributions from political action committees rose by 34 percent for U.S. House candidates in 2014.

Mark Mehringer, executive director of Clean Slate Now, sees a bright side in the growing movement for clean elections, and says an increasing number of candidates are choosing not to take PAC money.

"It's essentially a way of taking a principled stand and making it clear to voters that you care about not being bought, and you're going to do something, you're not going to come out with this line once again that everybody else does of, 'Well, they can contribute to my campaign but they're not buying my vote.' Nobody believes that line," he states.

The League of Women Voters, with more than 150,000 members and supporters nationwide, recently testified before the Federal Elections Commission, urging the agency to set new rules requiring full disclosure to help stem the tide of money flowing into elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.

Mehringer points out Connecticut already has adopted public funding for state legislative races. And he says that attitude also is reflected in the U.S. Senate delegation, because Connecticut's senators accept less than the average senator, who gets about 25 percent of his or her campaign funding from PACs.

"Both of their senators rely a little bit less on PAC money than what I've seen most places,” he says. “Both senators were only in the teens – 14 percent for Blumenthal and 16 percent for Murphy."

Clean Slate Now recently endorsed the Government by the People Act, which would provide matching funds for candidates who refuse PAC money. And, the nonpartisan group Represent Us is working to introduce anti-corruption acts in states, cities and towns across the nation.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT