Monday roundup

Some reading material for the start of the week...

  • Face the State recaps the General Assembly's Special Session.
  • Shame!
    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a campaign finance disclosure bill Friday, saying it likely violated the U.S. Constitution and included provisions representing poor public policy choices.

    The bill was an attempt to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that allowed corporations, unions, and special interest groups to funnel unlimited funds into political campaigns. It aimed to shed light upon the election process by requiring corporations to disclose their campaign activity.

    In his veto message, Malloy said he didn't want his rejection of the bill to be interpreted as an endorsement of the Citizens United decision, which he opposes.

    "While I have advocated for transparency in the elections and campaign finance process for a long time, and could certainly support sensible reform in this area again, I cannot support the bill before me given its many legal and practical problems," he wrote.

    Malloy said those problems include a section that defines independent expenditures so broadly that it applies to almost any communication attempting to influence a public official running for office within 90 days of an election.

    "In other words, issue advocacy - not just communication expressly advocating for the nomination, election, or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, or the passage or defeat of a ballot issues - is considered an 'independent expenditure' subject to the disclosure provisions of this bill," he said.

    Malloy said that would require nonprofit groups and media outlets to identify their top five donors if they engage in issue advocacy within 90 days of the election, which could dissuade people from supporting the groups.

    The response from Common Cause was spot on...

    "We are extremely disappointed that  Governor Malloy vetoed HB 5556 AAC Changes to Campaign Finance Laws and other Election Laws.  Common Cause believes he has squandered an opportunity to pass the strongest disclosure bill in the country" said Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Common Cause in Connecticut.    "When Governor Rell and leaders in the House and Senate chose to reject the corruption of the past and pass into law the Citizens' Election program in 2005, Connecticut became a leader in the nation for campaign finance reform.  That reform is at risk from secret special interest spending in our state elections.  HB 5556 would have strengthened our landmark program.  Unfortunately, the citizens of Connecticut will now be left in the dark about who is funding the millions of dollars that will be spent in Connecticut state races this fall, which leaves our state open to the corrupting influence of independent expenditures."

               "We are skeptical that the Governor will negotiate a strong disclosure bill because he made no effort to negotiate with legislative leaders on HB 5556 which passed the House and the Senate over a month ago," added Karen Hobert Flynn, Vice President for Common Cause.  "The Governor's office claims that they only recently became aware of the provisions of this bill, despite the fact that many of the provisions contained in H.B. 5556 are exactly the same as provisions that were the subject of two GAE hearings," said Hobert Flynn..  "The fact is that the Governor's track record on reform in this area has not been strong.  The Governor's addition to the GAE disclosure bill would have undermined reforms currently on the books by wiping out all contribution limits if a candidate was the victim of independent expenditures.  That would have meant that a corporation or other special interest would have been able to give a multi-million dollar contributions to his campaign."    

    "After the Supreme Court's misguided Citizens United decision in 2010, Connecticut's General Assembly passed a disclosure bill that was we now know is inadequate in its ability to shed light on secret money spent at the state level," added Hobert Flynn.  "We have learned that special interests injected huge sums of money via front groups who hide behind shell organizations into many state races around the country in 2010.  State level candidates in Maine, North Carolina, and other states were targeted with vicious attack ads and without a doubt, we will see more of this secret spending in 2012 in Connecticut.  However, since Governor Malloy has avoided taking steps to address this issue, it is not clear to us that Disclosure is a priority to him.

               "We strongly urge the Governor to work with legislative leaders to address concerns in HB 5556 and pass a bill that goes into effect for the 2012 elections that shines a spotlight on the secret conduits and donors to independent expenditure groups.  We need a law that strengthens coordination rules so we don't see SuperPACs and candidate coordination with groups who can raise unlimited amounts of money from special interests," said Quickmire.

  • Only in Bridgeport...
    Do you like name dropping? Richard "Skip" Bronson obliges. The War at the Shore authored by Bronson provides an insider's look at the scorched-earth relationship between gaming giants Donald Trump and Steve Wynn over control of Atlantic City interests. And along the way Bronson chronicles the Connecticut clash between Trump and Wynn, the maneuverings by Connecticut to establish casino enterprises and failed efforts to expand gaming beyond tribal nations. The book has a number of factual flaws, but has its titillating moments.


    The book is loaded with anecdotes, sometimes morally superior and factually dubious, about Connecticut political figures such as former Mayor Joe Ganim and former state legislator Ernie Newton as well as Bronson's friend from childhood Billy DiBella whom he counted on for guidance as a power broker in the State Senate. In 2010 Bronson's buddy was forced to pay the federal government about $800,000 to resolve civil charges that he had accepted a sham fee on a state pension fund deal involving Paul Silvester, the convicted former state treasurer. His words dripping with glee, Bronson recounts how Rowland, Ganim and Newton all end up in the joint in unrelated matters.

    Bronson arguably reserves his harshest criticism for Newton when he served in the State House. Bronson recounts a meeting nearly 20 years ago about Bronson's gaming bill.

    But for pure naked All-American avarice, the prize goes to a certain clown named Ernest Newton II, the Democratic state representative from Bridgeport. In a private meeting in my office one day he told what he needed to convince him to support my bill.

    "I have an idea," said Ernie

    "What is it?" I said.

    "You lend me some money. Cash, of course, Then, I forget to pay you back? How's that?"

    "I said, Senator, I can't do that."

    To which he replied: "Well, here's what you can do. You can get the hell out of my office!"

  • Congressman Jim Himes speaks out on President Obama's changes to immigration law for children of undocumented immigrants.
    "I applaud the President for making the right decision to end the horrendous prospect that DREAM children will be deported from the only country they know.  I believe in an America that rewards those who play by the rules, but our broken immigration system overlooks the special circumstances faced by the children of illegal immigrants.  These sensible changes to our immigration policy clarify that our priority lies with deporting those undocumented immigrants who pose a very real security threat - not those who are here because of a decision their parents made for them.  As a supporter of the DREAM Act, I will continue to support common-sense proposals that ensure a path to citizenship for our nation's best and brightest undocumented students."

    The immigration advocacy group CT Students for a DREAM have scheduled a press conference at Yale Law School today at 12:00 to comment on President Obama's decision.

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