With Gov. Jodi Rell saying she will make a decision “soon” on whether to call a special session on campaign finance reform, supporters of public financing for elections called a press conference today to try to keep the issue in the news and the pressure on legislative leaders. Will it work?
Gov. M. Jodi Rell told ctnewsjunkie.com today that she will make a decision “soon” on whether to call a special legislative session on campaign finance reform. She made her statement outside the state Capitol just minutes after a press conference designed to bring about quick action on election reform.Asked what she meant by “soon,” ie. days or weeks, Rell simply repeated, “soon.“The press conference, convened by Connecticut Common Cause, featured state Reps. Chris Caruso (D-Bridgeport) and Diana Urban (R-North Stonington) shilling for an immediate special session on campaign finance reform. Common Cause also released a report purporting to link the death of the bottle bill this past legislative session to over $700,000 in campaign contributions from the beverage industry.The bottle bill would have expanded the bottle deposit law to include non-carbonated beverages and is consistently opposed by industry lobbyists.But capitol reporters quickly picked the report apart. They questioned Common Cause executive director Andy Sauer about why he termed all contributions from an outfit like Gaffney Bennett as from the “beverage industry,” when that firm counts many different special interests as its clients. The report also included contributions to senators who voted in favor of the bottle bill, and contributions to officials who were either out of office last session or had no direct influence over legislation.Several participants, however, acknowledged that the point of the press conference was to keep the issue of campaign finance reform alive and in the news. Sauer indicated that if reform doesn’t happen in a special session this fall, it will never happen.“If it’s not happening now, we’re not going to lift a finger to make it happen next year,” Sauer said, adding that he thinks it impossible to pass in the short 2006 three-month session, and that he doesn’t want to give politicos a chance to look clean in an election year when they don’t actually intend on passing a meaningful bill. So what other tactics will they use to pressure legislative leadership into a special session?Sauer said his group has “a dozen” Ethics and Elections Enforcement Commission complaints “ready to go,” targeting some of the biggest names of the legislature.“Every week something is going to happen,” Sauer said.