Speaker James Amann “absolutely” will run a campaign finance reform bill through the state House, even if Senate President Donald Williams- a fellow Democrat- doesn’t sign on.
In the latest of an extraordinary series of events today at the state Capitol, Speaker of the House James Amann (D-Milford) said he would run a campaign finance bill through the House if he and the governor came to an agreement, even if Senate President Donald Williams (D-Danielson) didn’t sign on.Amann’s statement comes after Gov. Jodi Rell offered legislative Democrats full public financing of elections, in return for a complete ban on adbooks and lobbyist contributions. Rell’s offer is very close to a reform proposal supported in committee by state Rep. Chris Caruso (D-Bridgeport), co-chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. However, Williams had opposed full public financing, instead asking for a watered down reform that would still allow sizable PAC contributions to Senate candidates. But in a surreal move, Senate Republicans announced today that they now support public financing. This reverses their position against using tax dollars for elections, a stance the caucus had held for years. With the reversal, Democrats now have a much easier time corralling enough votes to pass a bill that includes full public financing- not Williams’s version.So when Amann held a press conference in his office this afternoon, ctnewsjunkie.com asked if he would run a bill in the House that he and the governor approved, but not Williams.“Absolutely,” Amann said, adding that if Caruso supported a bill and recommended it to him, “we’re going to run the bill.“That sets up a scenario where the state House could pass a reform bill- with the governor promising to sign it- and Williams remaining as the only impediment to its passage. We asked Williams’s office if he would fear taking the entire blame for the failure of campaign reform in such a scenario.“It’s a hypothetical situation Senator Williams doesn’t expect to come about,” says Lawrence Cook, a Senate Democrat press aide. “He fully expects to be part of any negotiation on campaign finance reform with the speaker and the governor.”