During Gov. Dannel Malloy’s trip to New Hampshire this week on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, one of his jobs was to convince Granite State voters that Clinton’s email scandal was overblown.

But as Malloy tries to justify Clinton’s behavior, political pressure is building nationally for Clinton to account for the legal and ethical issues surrounding her use of a personal email account and server when she was Secretary of State, and to answer the charge that she sent state secrets over unsecure channels.

Meanwhile, Malloy is facing an email scandal of his own. 

The state’s Democratic Party is refusing to turn over emails between Malloy and his top campaign aides, and the Malloy campaign and the party, about a mailer the party pushed out to voters in the last few weeks leading up to the 2014 gubernatorial election.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission says the pro-Malloy mailings should have been subject to the state’s stringent campaign finance laws, but the Democrats disagree.

At its heart this is about accountability, and it is about transparency. And it shows just how far the Democrats are willing to go to undermine the state’s so-called “clean election laws.”

Democrats like to pretend they are on the moral high ground when it comes to campaign finance laws, but in practice they show they are just as happy to fill their coffers as Republicans.

It’s the worst kind of political hypocrisy — and much like Newt Gingrich was rightly called out for his moralizing during the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, Malloy and other state Democrats need to account for their fight against SEEC, and for their unwillingness to comply with the subpoena and turn over the emails in question.

The 2014 campaign in Connecticut revealed just how adept the Democrats have become at getting around the “clean” election rules they helped write.

Connecticut’s public finance law says state contractors can’t give money to the state’s political parties. But in 2014, state Democrats exploited a loophole that allowed state contractors to give money to their federal account, allowing the party to rake in millions of dollars.

Republicans were also willing to collect money in their federal account, although with no statewide elected officials, it was much harder for Republicans to raise money. 

The money the parties raised federally was then funneled back into spending on campaigns at the state level.

This is how state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. managed to both get $95,000 in taxpayer dollars to “publicly fund” his campaign, while also getting his friends to donate over $200,000 to the state party, which was then funneled back to his campaign.

At the time, Kennedy said he needed the extra money to “protect himself,” because clearly as a Democrat, from one of the most politically powerful families in the country, running in the bluest state in the nation, he was facing an uphill battle to win his state senate district. Please.

All of this just adds to the public’s perception that our elected leaders think of themselves as being above the law — Republicans and Democrats alike.

Malloy and the Democrats need to stop fighting this battle in court, and they need to turn over the emails in question to SEEC.

That the Democrats are willing to fight this battle in court just makes them look more guilty — what is in those emails that they don’t want us to see?

The Democrats, through their attorney, David Golub, say federal law should trump the state’s election laws in this case, and so SEEC has no jurisdiction over the content of the mailer.

Either the Democrats believe in the state’s public financing system, or they don’t. Either they want to run clean, open campaigns, or they don’t.

If they don’t, then they should just admit it, and they should stop spending tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars on elections that are neither “publicly financed” nor “clean.”

Suzanne Bates is the policy director for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. She lives in South Windsor with her family. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.

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