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CT Political “Dark Money” Veto Urged

June 17, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. - Governor Dannel Malloy is being urged to veto a campaign finance measure passed this session that local advocates warn would open the door to more special interest and political "dark money."

According to League of Women Voters of Connecticut President Cheryl Dunson, her organization contacted the governor Friday and urged him to veto the measure. She explained that it increases campaign contribution limits, and it also weakens disclosure requirements for independent political ads by corporations and nonprofits.

"We should be following the example of New York, whose attorney general has adopted strong disclosure requirements for nonprofits engaged in electioneering," she declared.

Supporters of the measure say Connecticut law needs to be updated in response to the Supreme Court's "Citizen's United" ruling, although Dunson said the changes would do more to help politicians than to protect local voters.

Christine Horrigan, the League's government chair, is concerned the measure also weakens the "stand by your ad" requirements for independent political ads.

"We are rolling back disclosures which would allow people in their car driving to work to evaluate political advertisements, and to make informed decisions about the content of the message and who is behind it," Horrigan said.

Cheryl Dunson said there is no way to track exactly how much special-interest money is already pouring into Connecticut, although nationwide, the group "Open Secrets" said, nonprofits put $250 million into elections in 2012. Dunson said local people need more protection, not less.

"By not vetoing the bill, we are going back to 'Corrupticut,' which was our nickname in Connecticut as a result of all of the scandals, by having a governor is prison, the senator, treasurer: I mean, how much more do we need?", she asked. "So, the campaign system that was put in place was in response to that."

Dunson said Connecticut passed the nation's strongest campaign finance laws in 2005, but this measure weakens many protections, by providing new ways for political parties to raise money, and it allows them to make unlimited donations on behalf of candidates.

The measure is Public Act 13-180.

The letter to the governor is online at LWVCT.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT