GOP Budget Dismantles Election Reforms

September 20, 2017

Rep. Matthew Lesser speaks at press conference on saving election reforms.

Rep. Matthew Lesser, many of his colleagues and leaders of good government advocacy groups urged the public Tuesday to contact their legislators and implore them to reject proposals in the Republican budget that would dismantle the state’s Citizens Election Program.

“The GOP budget that passed Saturday not only jacks up taxes on the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich, but also destroys our state university system with nearly $400 million of funding reductions and still leaves a massive structural deficit in the state budget. To make matters even worse, the GOP budget plan guts the very election reform laws we passed after Gov. John Rowland was sent to prison for corruption,” Rep. Lesser said.

Here are excerpts from Rep. Lesser’s address to the press conference Tuesday in Hartford.

“The Republican budget has the same kind of budget gimmicks that got us into this mess in the first place. But the most cynical, most dangerous and most damaging aspect is that the budget embraces public corruption.

“After John Rowland went to prison, Connecticut Democrats and Republicans, under the leadership of Republican Gov. Jodi Rell, enacted numerous reforms to limit the ability of state contractors and special interests to corrupt the General Assembly, the governor and state constitutional officers.

“The GOP legislation rolls back those reforms and brings back the corrupt campaign finance environment of John Rowland’s Connecticut.

“Section 201 and Section 202 of the Republican budget would remove language making it illegal to embezzle citizens election funds. That’s not just prospectively. That’s retrospectively, too.

“In the campaign finance system created by this budget, corporations and state contractors would be given vastly wider powers to donate to candidates and PACs, and legislative leaders would be able to funnel up to $120,000 of hidden special interest money to candidates.

“Eliminating the reforms we put in place will only encourage public corruption.”