The Association of Communicator Lobbyists, LLC filed a lawsuit Thursday afternoon against the state Elections Enforcement Commission, Office of State Ethics, and Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of the 2005 campaign finance legislation that bans lobbyist contributions. The lawsuit claims the new legislation will violates freedom of speech because it prohibits lobbyists and their family members from participating in the political process. In the past members of the Association of Connecticut Lobbyists and their immediate family members have participated in campaigns by soliciting contributions, purchasing ads and making contributions to state candidates.
There’s also a professional concern because they will not be able to advise their clients to whom they should contribute, whether a candidate for office is likely to win, communicate their evaluations of a lawmakers effectiveness, or express their political beliefs, the lawsuit claims. In addition the campaign finance legislation provides penalties for solicitation against lobbyists that are married or in a civil union, but provide no penalties for those who live as a family without the benefit of marriage or union. The lawsuit is similar to one filed in July by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union that seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation which goes into effect in January 2007. Lobbyist Betty Gallo is named as a plaintiff in that lawsuit.In July Gallo said in a press release that she feels the new campaign finance law will unfairly limit her right to actively participate in the political process as a “responsible citizen.” “The way this law is written if my doctor said, ‘I got a request for a campaign contribution from my representative. Is she good on the expansion of HUSKY? Should I send her money?’ I can’t answer that question,” Gallo said. The CCLU lawsuit also challenges the minor party provisions in the public financing portion of the legislation, in addition to the lobbyist prohibitions. Responses from the Attorney General are expected back in October. Roger Vann, spokesman for the CCLU, has said they filed the lawsuit before the legislation went into effect as a way to preempt the violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. But getting the court to turn a case around before Jan. 1 2007 is unlikely. A recent report to the court filed Aug. 24 by the CCLU’s attorneys states it looks like “settlement is unlikely at this time.” It requested discovery begin in November 2006 and end in July 2007 and if everything goes as planned, it requested the parties be ready for trial by Dec. 3, 2007.