They say that politics makes strange bedfellows.
That was the case on Saturday when the 10,000-member Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the Connecticut branch of the American Civil Liberties Union joined together against a campaign finance reform bill.
The House Democratic majority postponed any vote on the bill – number 5556 - after a Democratic caucus showed that there was a lack of support. Various groups were lobbying against the bill, but Republicans said that the bill collapsed in caucus when Democrats refused to increase the public financing for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the 2014 election to $9 million, up from the current maximum of $6 million. Republicans said that Democratic legislators are up for reelection this fall, and they did not want to hike the money available for Malloy’s 2014 campaign by $3 million.
“The $9 million was a problem for their caucus because this is in the wake of the largest tax increase in state history and a deficit,” House Republican leader Larry Cafero told Capitol Watch. “Their angst was: with the backdrop of that, we’re going to give the governor $9 million? The hypocrisy that is on top of that is astounding. Clean elections, we’re going to get special interests out of politics. The hypocrisy is astounding by a governor who claimed to be transparent and on the side of clean elections. It’s laughable.”
But Malloy’s senior adviser, Roy Occhiogrosso, said Saturday night that the bill was not generated by Malloy, but was instead written by the Democratic-controlled legislature.
“It was their idea,” Occhiogrosso told Capitol Watch. ”The governor’s proposal would have kept the number at $6 million and would have allowed the governor to raise private funds if a self-funder raised more than $6 million. … We had almost no input into it.”
Malloy’s team tried to help, but got nowhere.
“Andrew McDonald reached out several times in the last few days and asked for a meeting … and got no response,” Occhiogrosso said.
Regarding the bill, Occhiogrosso said, “It was a mess.”
Two unlikely allies – CBIA and CCLU - were both lobbying against the bill because of the reporting requirements. The bill stated that the board of directors of any corporation or nonprofit would need to vote every time that the entity spent more than $4,000 in a political expenditure.
Currently, large corporations like Hartford-based United Technologies and Fairfield-based General Electric only convene their boards for huge issues and never sign off on bills as small as $4,000. The board would not only need to convene, but the vote by the board would need to be published on the company’s website within 48 hours. The corporations said that board of directors are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the corporation and only set broad policies. A lower-level employee in the company would be approving expenses at the level of $4,000.
“You don’t bring those things to a board now,” said Joseph Brennan, the chief lobbyist for CBIA at the Capitol. “Connecticut is putting a spotlight on itself. We just don’t think it’s good public policy.”