More than 77 percent of successful candidates in 2012 and all current statewide office holders were publicly financed, a report released Monday found.
Fresh Start: The Impact Of Public Campaign Financing In Connecticut, was authored by Miles Rapoport, president of left-leaning policy center Demos and former Secretary of the State. In addition to the report, Rapoport and current Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wrote a letter to New York lawmakers, urging them to adopt a public financing system in their state.
Connecticut’s voluntary public financing system was launched in 2008 as part of the state’s 2005 legislative response to the corruption scandal of former Gov. John Rowland. Named the “Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program,” the program offers grant money to candidates who raise a certain amount of money through small donations.
The report touted the state’s public financing program after finding that it reduces special interest influence, allows more people to run for office, and results in a more diverse group of candidates elected.
“There is no longer a need for the financial connection,” said Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney. “The playing field has been leveled and everyone has to compete based on the merits of their proposals.”
Arguing that public financing results in a government that better serves the interests of Connecticut’s working and middle class residents, report authors pointed to legislation passed since the program’s inception, like paid sick leave for service workers, a minimum wage increase and the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.
“Arbitrary obstruction measures done as favors to special interests are declining,” the report found. Used to support that claim was a quote from former House Speaker Chris Donovan, whose congressional campaign fell apart last summer amidst an investigation into fraudulent campaign contributions.