While the Democratic Governors Association and state election regulators try to reach a settlement behind closed doors, the DGA has filed a court motion to prevent state Republicans from intervening in its challenge of campaign finance laws.
The state Republican Party is seeking to intervene in federal court on behalf of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which is being sued by the Democratic Governors Association. The DGA is hoping for a court order to prevent it from being prosecuted by the SEEC this fall as it spends money on behalf of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The DGA believes the SEEC will seek to prosecute the group for illegally coordinating with Malloy’s re-election campaign based on his affiliation with the association — he’s its former finance chairman — and his fundraising efforts on behalf of the group.
U.S. District Judge Janet Hall ordered the two sides into settlement talks after hearing oral arguments last month. On Wednesday the Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the SEEC, said those talks are ongoing.
Meanwhile, the DGA filed a motion Tuesday opposing the Republicans’ attempt to intervene in the case. The group argued that the party had failed to demonstrate that the state could not adequately defend itself.
“The [Republican] Party does not suggest any way in which its defense of the statutes would differ from the State’s, much less any ‘evidence of collusion’ between the parties, ‘adversity of interest’ between the Party and the State, or ‘nonfeasance, or incompetence’ on the part of the State,” the DGA motion reads.
In its original motion, the party disagreed, saying “there is no question” Republicans will be disadvantaged if the DGA succeeds in its lawsuit and therefore the party has more “skin in the game” than the Attorney General’s Office and the SEEC.
“The Republican Party’s interest in opposing the DGA’s action is distinct from that of the State Defendants. In this regard, the Republican Party may argue zealously because its candidates stand to lose if the DGA can operate without constraint,” it said.
During oral arguments two weeks ago, a lawyer for the DGA opposed the Republican’s attempt to intervene. Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne took no position on the motion.
The DGA had sought a preliminary injunction to settle the matter before a fundraising event, which occurred in Greenwich last week. Although Hall has yet to rule on the matter, Malloy attended the event.
In addition to opposition from Republicans, the lawsuit also has drawn criticism from a coalition of good government groups. Soon after the complaint was filed, Common Cause called upon Malloy to ask the DGA to withdraw its lawsuit.
Malloy told reporters he believes the association acted appropriately in filing the complaint. The good government groups, which include the League of Women Voters, also wrote to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chairman of the DGA, and urged him to drop the lawsuit. The coalition called the lawsuit “indefensible.”
“We are very surprised that you would allow yourself to be associated with this lawsuit and with the effort it represents to evade and circumvent Connecticut’s strong disclosure and coordination rules as well as Connecticut’s groundbreaking public financing system,” the letter read.
However, Shumlin was among the Democratic governors who attended the fundraiser last week in Greenwich.
Last week, Malloy’s campaign with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman announced it had raised the $250,000 in small donations necessary to qualify for $6.5 million under Connecticut’s public financing system. Malloy was the first governor elected using the system in 2010, when he defeated Republican nominee Tom Foley by 6,404 votes.
Foley has again won the Republican party nomination but he faces primary challenges from Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. In 2010, Boughton appeared on the ticket with Foley as the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.