Letter: Keep special interest money out of Connecticut politics

To the Editor:

On May 16, the League of Women Voters is sponsoring a program titled “Money in Politics” with Shannon Clark Kief, legal program director of the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC). Attorney Kief is the administrator of the landmark clean elections campaign financing program known as the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP). CEP was established in 2005 in response to donor-related favors that landed former Gov. John Rowland in federal prison.

The Citizens’ Election Program limits the role of big money in state politics by granting public financing to qualified candidates running for statewide offices and the General Assembly who agree to abide by certain guidelines, including contribution and expenditure limits and disclosure requirements.

The money for CEP does not come from taxes but from the sale of abandoned property in the state, and constitutes only 0.0001% of the state budget. All of our elected state officers and 89% of the current legislators in the Connecticut House and Senate chose to run on CEP funding, and now serve owing no favors to special interests.

Unfortunately, the current Republican budget proposal recommends ending the Citizens’ Election Program, saying that it is not keeping special interest money out of politics. But facts show that the non-partisan SEEC which administers this program does a good job doing just that!

The League of Women Voters urges everyone who wants to “get special-interest money out of politics” to call their representatives in the Connecticut state House and Senate to stress their opposition to ending CEP. Now is not the time to revert back to “Corrupticut”-era campaign financing practices.

The public is invited to join the League on May 16 at 10:30 a.m. at the Town Hall Lower Level Conference Room to hear more about this important program.

Marilyn P. Carroll

President, Ridgefield League of Women Voters