A stunningly bad idea for Connecticut

Have you heard?

While Seattle and Maine make progress in getting big money out of elections, Connecticut is poised to undo a signature accomplishment—the Citizens Election Program. Facing budget cuts, some legislators in Connecticut have proposed allowing wealthy donors to, once again, dominate the state’s elections.

Connecticut has had state-wide public financing since 2008. Through financing from the Citizens’ Election Fund, candidates who obtain the required number of small donations can receive a lump sum to fund their campaign.

The program has increased participation, diversified the donor pool, helped more candidates of color run for office, and led to policy outcomes more responsive to the needs of the general public rather than the elite donor class.

We need your help.

The Connecticut House is meeting about this on Friday. Contact your state representatives now and tell them: With more money than ever flowing into our democracy, now is not the time to roll back clean elections in Connecticut.

In our Fresh Start report, Demos profiled how public financing has helped Connecticut by interviewing bipartisan public officials and reviewing the program’s impact on policy, representation, and process. Our findings were clear—once candidates were no longer exclusively dependent on wealthy donors and businesses, the influence of lobbyists decreased, and elected representatives became more responsive to the public will and passed popular legislation such as paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage.

Participation in the Citizens’ Election program is extremely high. In 2012, 77 percent of elected legislators participated in the voluntary program and all current statewide offices are held by public financing participants.

That’s why repeal really makes no sense. Let the legislature know before Friday that this is unacceptable.

Public financing is a fundamental step towards a representative and responsive government. Connecticut shouldn’t abandon it.