Both House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and incoming House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said Thursday that fixing the state’s public financing system is one of the thorny issues they hope to tackle during the upcoming legislative session.
Sharkey, head of the Democratic majority, said he thinks the legislature needs to look at some of the changes it made back in 2013 when it amended the law to allow state parties to give unlimited amounts of money to publicly financed candidates.
“I think if the state party is allowed to accept contributions and then distribute out, at will, whatever money they bring in to individual candidates, I think that damages the credibility of what we all commit to doing if we sign up for the public financing system,” Sharkey said.
Klarides didn’t necessarily disagree, but suggested lawmakers go a little further in repairing the damage during an online interview hosted by AARP and the CT Mirror.
Klarides said Republicans largely objected to establishing a public finance system, but agreed that state contractor money should not be used on state races.
During the 2014 campaign the Democratic Party sent out mailers on behalf of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with money raised in its federal account. That account included contributions from state contractors, which it “consciously and directly used,” Klarides said.
“We specifically, and I think we all agreed for the most part, clearly in a bipartisan fashion, that state contractor money should not be used for state races,” she said.
The state Elections Enforcement Commission is currently investigating a complaint regarding those mailers. The Republican Party tried and failed to get an injunction against the Democratic Party and the Malloy campaign for sending out the mailers, and the Democratic Party withdrew its request to federal regulators to offer an opinion on its decision to send the mailers.
Klarides and Sharkey seem to agree that the money going to state parties needs to be better regulated.
“If you can circumvent it that easily, then clearly it needs to be changed,” Klarides said.
Click here to read our previous article regarding the flaws in the clean election system.