Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the first governor elected under the state’s public financing system, signed into law Wednesday a bill that redefines the system and opens it up to unlimited donations from political parties to clean election candidates.
The bill’s proponents said it was a response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows outside groups to pour unlimited money into campaigns with very little disclosure about where a group got the money.
The new law allows groups to raise and contribute more money to campaigns without imposing limits on donations that State Central Committees can give to candidates who are already funded by the state’s public financing system. It also doubles the contribution that an individual can give to state parties from $5,000 to $10,000 and eliminates restrictions regarding negative campaigning on behalf of publicly funded candidates.
The legislation also requires that groups spending on behalf of candidates in Connecticut must disclose the top five donors and the top five donors to any group sponsoring an independent expenditure.
In a Wednesday statement, Malloy called the Citizens United decision tragic and focused on the disclosure requirements included in the bill.
“Faced with that tragic decision, which is now the law of the land, we can at least shine a light on the sources of private money in politics. The bill I’m signing today requires a level of disclosure that few if any other states require,” he said. “No bill is perfect. But this bill makes Connecticut a national leader in requiring disclosure and transparency.”
The legislation was opposed by Republican lawmakers and clean election advocates like Common Cause. Cherie Quickmire, the group’s executive director for Connecticut, said Wednesday she was disappointed more attention was not paid to increasing disclosure requirements.
“We’re disappointed that the General Assembly as well as the administration think that the answer to more money in elections is more money in elections,” she said.
Quickmire said she was glad that the bill did not include a provision that would allow state contractors to contribute to local town committees.