Publicly funded elections promote good government

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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


7 responses to “Publicly funded elections promote good government”

  1. Bryan Meek

    The program needs to be eliminated post haste. “Conflating”? Is that what you call the millions of dollars in “dark money” that flowed through Governor Malloy’s campaign last time around? To keep up with all the outside money, the GOP candidate resorted to the same. So not only did the money not stop flowing, but we had to pay out of our own pockets as well. Given our current fiscal calamity, how exactly has this helped anything? This whole thing is one big land grab for the campaign industry and needs to go immediately. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for candidates ice cream socials and spaghetti dinners to drum up votes.

  2. Elona Vaisnys

    Bryan Meek got a few facts wrong. Gov. Malloy ran on CEP–clean– funding (which comes from the sale of abandoned property in the state, not from taxes) and won against Mr. Foley. Mr. Foley had chosen to raise money in the traditional way–no limit, but lost. So, the next time, Mr. Foley also applied and got CEP funding for his campaign.He and Mr. Malloy got the same amount of CEP financing. Speak of playing on an even field!
    Wonderful program. When people run on Citizens’ Election Program funding, they get elected owing no favors to any special interests. CEP was established for a very important-to-democracy reason.

  3. Bryan Meek

    On top of the $13 million we gave to Dan Malloy to run his first and second campaigns. Federal funds from the state’s Democratic Party were also used to run millions of dollars of advertisements completely against the spirit of CEP.

    Malloy’s campaign paid a $325,000 fine to the SEEC to settle their complaint against him for this transgression after the election.


    This is why CEP is a total joke and must go. $40 million would have more usefulness expanding Malloy’s bus ways to nowhere than sponsoring local politicians ice cream socials and pizza parties.

    CEP is a good idea on paper for a state that isn’t on the verge of bankruptcy like ours is.

  4. Elona Vaisnys

    You are way off when you speak of millions of dollars of advertisements with federal funds on behalf of Gov. Malloy’s campaign. It did not reach half a million.
    But you are right that the Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) took the state’s Democratic Party to court for printing voting-related mailers to benefit candidate Gov. Malloy who ran on CEP money and had signed a contract to stay within CEP funding. The Democrats won’t do it again. That penalty was no slap on the wrist.
    State Election Enforcement Commission administers CEP itself and is fierce about protecting its integrity. Connecticut can be proud of its Citizens’ Election Program without reservations. A quick overview of CEP is at https://ceproud.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/ceproud-prezi-text-1-8-17update.pdf

  5. Bryan Meek

    Well your $40 million feel good program has us resulted in a $5 billion hole right now. The whole thing is indefensible. If you want to pay for candidates to have ice cream socials and pizza parties, please do it with your money, not mine.

  6. NonPartisan

    Why aren’t the funds being applied to the states general fund?

    These programs are sending us into bankruotcy.

  7. Elona Vaisnys

    You must be mixing CEP up with something else, because the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) comes to 0.0001% of the state budget. Too puny a sum to cause bankrupcy.

    You seem to have misremembered something else about CEP —CEP is not using your money (taxes). It is funded from the sale of abandoned property in the state. Now, if you have some _abandoned_ property in the state, then do retrieve it, so that CEP will not sell it and use it provide candidates for state offices with equal-funding to run their campaigns.

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