The State Election Enforcement Commission hopes to make some changes to its public campaign financing program after a dramatic increase in overtime hours and costs following this year’s midterm elections.
In 2008, 250 General Assembly candidates submitted applications for public campaign financing. In 2010, 253 candidates filed applications. Despite receiving almost the same number of applications this year, the SEEC reported longer hours of review because the applications came from eight candidates for statewide office and one gubernatorial candidate, Governor-elect Dan Malloy.
July saw the most overtime. The SEEC reported 384.25 hours of overtime in July 2010, compared with 243.5 hours during July 2008.
Commission staff must review applications and make a recommendation to the SEEC within four days of receiving an application. After this year’s heavy workload and overtime increases, the SEEC hopes to increase the four-day review deadline to decrease overtime costs.
The Commission plans to make a legislative proposal for an increase to 10 days. The SEEC also hopes to extend the review period for General Election applications submitted during the primary grant determination deadline week, giving precedence to applications from candidates facing a primary.
Campaigns and committees that file qualifying contribution documentation for review about a month or so before filing the actual grant application also prove more likely to receive approval on their first application submission, the report said. About 81 percent of committees who received approval on their first application received a previous review report from the Audit staff.
“This early review process benefits committees who are better prepared to apply for a grant and conserves Commission and candidate resources when candidates are recommended for approval with their first application,” the report said.
The report said the information contributes to the public trust of government, the electoral process and in public campaign financing. The eCRIS document search on the SEEC’s website offers full electronic disclosure of public campaign financial information.
The campaign disclosure and audit shows almost 46 percent of campaigns filed for public campaign financing, compared to 38 percent in 2009 and 31 percent in 2008. The clear increase follows the elections for statewide office.
An estimated 74 percent of candidates that participated in the public campaign finance system were successful in their campaigns this year, while 100 percent of statewide candidates were successful in their campaigns for office.
The Citizens’ Election Program paid out a total of $27.3 million in 2010. Of that $17.8 million went to candidates running statewide campaigns and $9.5 million went to candidates running for the state legislature. The balance left in the fund for fiscal year 2011 will be $12.6 million once close to $15 million is transferred back to the state to help balance the budget.
Activity on the website where campaign finance reports are filed also increased during the election. Each campaign disclosure statement filed via the SEEC’s electronic eCRIS filing system, which reported increased usage over the last three years. The eCRIS search module on the SEEC website reports up to 400 visits per day. Between May 1 and October 31, 2010, the search module received 85,000 visits.