HARTFORD, CT — Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim will file a lawsuit in federal court later today alleging that election regulators are trampling on his free speech rights.
Ganim, who is considering a run for governor, is challenging the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s unanimous decision to deny him public funding for his campaign.
Ganim was convicted in the early 2003 for a variety of federal felonies for municipal corruption. He served six years in prison and restored his voting rights and then ran for mayor again in 2015 and won.
Now he’s one of more than a dozen candidates who want to run for governor using the Citizen’s Election Program, which allows candidates who meet certain fundraising thresholds to receive public funds for their campaign. The program enacted after Ganim’s conviction prevents former felons from participating.
“Mr. Ganim’s Right to Free Speech is impaired because the statute excluding him from funding is irrational, does not further a legitimate public purpose or interest, is not narrowly tailored, lacks a rational basis or relationship to a legitimate state interest, is unnecessarily harsh, undermines the CEP’s goals of combating public corruption and promoting clean elections, and imposes an unfair and unnecessary burden on him by not allowing him to participate in the CEP,” a copy of the complaint provided to CTNewsJunkie states.
Ganim and his attorney’s say the funding scheme places an “impermissible restriction” on his “freedom of speech due to the way it uses public funds to favor and facilitate other participating candidates’ messages over Mr. Ganim’s based solely on his status as a convicted felon.”
The SEEC unanimously decided to deny Ganim the right to participate in the program, after Ganim asked for their permission.
Meanwhile, he’s been fundraising for his potential gubernatorial bid.
Ganim raised $36,000 between the end of April when he announced his campaign and the end of June.
He points out in the lawsuit that of the 800,000 registered Democrats in the state, over 45,000 of them live in Bridgeport.