To the Editor:
It is distressing to learn that some of our state legislators hope to eliminate Connecticut’s highly successful Citizens’ Election Program (CEP).
CEP makes it possible for qualified candidates to run for state office even if they are neither wealthy nor beholden to special interests. It helps to keep our elections clean and to level the playing field for new and young candidates. In the 10 years since CEP began, the vast majority of state legislators have relied on CEP funding in every election.
Some legislators argue that CEP has not kept “dark money” out of our elections. They are conflating Connecticut’s CEP with the federal Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which allows private campaign contributions, including contributions from undisclosed sources, for ads and other tools aimed at persuading voters. They are ignoring the fact that our State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) monitors candidate compliance with CEP. Similarly, the argument that we “can’t afford” to fund elections is flimsy, considering that CEP constitutes only 0.0001 percent of the state budget, and that it is funded by the sale of unclaimed property – not from taxes.
What we really can’t afford is a return to the days of “Corrupticut,” the “pay to play” climate that landed former Gov. John Rowland in jail.
It is hypocritical for our General Assembly representatives and senators to oppose CEP, considering that 89 percent of them ran on CEP funding. Thanks to CEP, they are able to serve their current terms without owing favors to special interests.
The League of Women Voters advocates for continuation and strengthening of the Citizens’ Election Program. We hope our legislators will make the right choice: preserve and strengthen CEP to help keep Connecticut’s elections free and fair in perpetuity. For a brief description of the Citizens’ Election Program, visit CEProud’s website.
League of Women Voters of Norwalk Steering Committee
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