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Opinion: Connecticut lawmakers try to silence public debate

During this time of extreme and, at times, violent political activism some lawmakers in Connecticut are trying to silence public debate by exposing private citizens’ information.

House Bill 5589 requires the state government to publish an online database identifying people, the cause(s) they support, and where they live.

That’s a bad idea.

Supporters of Sandy Hook Promise or Connecticut Citizens Defense League should be able to support their cause without political activists and wild conspiracy theorists knowing their address — just as donors to Planned Parenthood or Family Institute of Connecticut shouldn’t have to list their names on a public database just because they wish to support those groups.

This bill threatens the First Amendment rights of Connecticut’s citizens by intimidating them into silence with the legitimate fear that they will face reprisals.

We’ve all seen it happen in the past — infamous stories of private citizens harassed and threatened because they made a private political donation which then became public.

And that could very well happen here in Connecticut if this legislation passes.

So I encourage you to email your lawmaker now about House Bill 5589 and this important First Amendment issue.

Our lawmakers need to be reminded: Transparency is for government. Privacy is for the people.

Carol Platt Liebau is president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.

6 comments

DeeeMooo April 23, 2017 at 8:55 am

According to its website, “the Yankee Institute develops and advances free-market, limited-government solutions in Connecticut.”

They also oppose a bill that will shed light on the sources of money for the various special interests and PACs in the state of CT.

Don’t fall for this malarkey. They’re not concerned about your privacy – they’re against light being shed in the dark corners of our political system.

Wineshine April 23, 2017 at 10:18 am

So interesting that the Democratic Connecticut legislature comes up with an idea that they would label the president a Fascist for advocating. The hypocrisy knows no boundaries.

McKeen Shanogg April 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Typical Yankee Institute far-right scare tactics. Below is the text of the bill. You tell me where it says donors to Planned Parenthood would be outed. The bill is about dark money, an antidote to Citizens United and opaque pay-to-play by outside special interests.

“AN ACT CONCERNING CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.
To (1) create bright lines between coordinated and independent spending, (2) address in statute independent expenditure political committees, (3) increase disclosure of sources of funds used for independent expenditures, (4) require board of governance authorization before certain entities make certain campaign-related disbursements of funds and disclosure of such disbursements to shareholders, (5) prohibit independent expenditures or covered transfers by foreign-influenced entities, and (6) impose limits on covered transfers.”
https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB05589&which_year=2017

McKeen Shanogg April 23, 2017 at 1:05 pm

P.S. far from “silencing public debate” as claimed in the misleading headline, this bill shining a light on campaign contributions would promote a true debate. It would enable voters to tell what each candidate really stands for, who is backing them and why.

srb April 24, 2017 at 6:05 am

How disingenuous. When you click on the link about the bill on Yankee’s website it’s all a bunch of rhetoric, nothing substantive about the Bill…

Donna April 24, 2017 at 9:45 am

The Yankee Institute supports the continued influence of dark money in political campaigns. This is basically a pro-Citizen’s United, pro-Koch brothers entity masquerading as a public service organization. Disclosure laws are important to reining in the leviathan created by Citizen’s United. Don’t let the “Yankee” in the name fool you.

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