July 15, 2011 •
Ten Lobbyists to be Audited in Connecticut
Thomas H. Dooley, Chairman of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board, will be selecting at random 10 lobbyists to be audited by the Office of State Ethics during an audit selection ceremony on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
The ceremony will be a part of the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting, scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
Lobbyists to be audited will be selected from a pool of all registered client lobbyists.
During audits of these selected client lobbyists, the Office of State Ethics will audit all associated communicator lobbyists.
A list of those selected to be audited will be made available on the website of the Office of State Ethics following the ceremony.
July 11, 2011 •
Here are highlights from the latest edition of News You Can Use:
From the States and Municipalities:
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
News You Can Use is a news service provided at no charge only to clients of our online Executive Source Guides, or ALERTS™ consulting clients.
Jim Sedor is editor of News You Can Use.
June 28, 2011 •
Called Due to Expected State Union Rejection of Wage and Benefits Deal
Governor Dannel P. Malloy has issued a Call of Special Session for Thursday, June 30, 2011.
Governor Malloy issued the call after ratification of a deal struck in May with union leadership for the state’s public employees came into doubt.
Ratification of the deal, essential to the balancing of the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, would save the positions of the up to 7,500 state workers Malloy insists may have to be laid off in order to achieve a balanced budget.
Photo of the Connecticut State Capitol dome derived from a photo by jglazer75 on Wikipedia.
March 11, 2011 •
Delayed Contributions Ban Proposal Now Moves Forward
The Hartford city council is debating a proposal to ban campaign contributions from contractors who have business deals with the city. Proposed more than two years ago, the measure is now moving forward after receiving word from the city’s corporation counsel assuring the legality of such a measure.
There are still details to be determined concerning the measure, including who will be expected to enforce the measure. A vote is expected by the end of March.
Aerial photo of downtown Hartford by Sage Ross on Wikipedia.
February 23, 2011 •
An effort to save money could bring cuts.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy has proposed reducing the number of budgeted state agencies from 87 to 57 in a move intended to increase efficiency and save the state money. Included in the reduction plan is a proposal to combine the Office of State Ethics, Elections Enforcement Commission, Contracting Standards Board, Freedom of Information Commission, and Judicial Review Council into a new agency to be named the Office of Governmental Accountability.
While not detailing how these agencies would be capable of functioning as one, or where any cost savings would be seen, Malloy did question in a press release why all these agencies are presently separate, stating “…why are all of the government accountability functions…separate entities when so many of their issue areas and jurisdiction overlap? It just didn’t make sense.”
Quickly voicing their concern against this proposal was the non-profit group Common Cause, noting how each of these “watchdog” agencies presently must keep watch over the other. A statement released by Common Cause noted “If a citizen files a complaint that the Elections Enforcement Commission or the Office of State Ethics has violated the FOI Act, the watchdog agency would be both the respondent and judge. It is unlikely that the new commission would bring ethics charges against itself, and this watchdog agency would undermine the public’s confidence and become a national joke.”
Photo of the state capitol by Ragesoss on Wikipedia.
September 21, 2010 •
The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board will hold a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, September 23, 2010, at 1:00 p.m.
The meeting will take place at the Office of State Ethics, 18-20 Trinity Street in Hartford. The board is scheduled to discuss the feasibility of easing eligibility restrictions of members after it was recently reported an August meeting was forced to be canceled due to lack of quorum. The board is allotted nine positions; however, only six are presently occupied.
After news of the available positions and canceled meeting were reported, officials stated several Connecticut citizens had been in contact with the board about filling a vacancy. Before any new board member can be seated, the individual must first be determined to be a Connecticut voter, have not held or currently hold political office, and have not campaigned for election to political office in the three years preceding the appointment. Further, a board member is not permitted to hold office in any political committee or party, make contributions to state campaigns, be a state employee, be a lobbyist, or be in an organization wherein the purpose is to influence legislation or public agency decisions.
August 13, 2010 •
The latest news on the bill to fix the Citizens’ Election Program in Connecticut.
The Connecticut House of Representatives voted to override Governor M. Jodi Rell’s veto of the bill designed to reinstate the public election financing program, which had been previously limited by a federal court decision. The state senate had already voted to override the veto.
The immediate effect of the vote is to provide gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy with six million dollars from the Citizens’ Election Program, twice as much as he was originally scheduled to receive.
August 3, 2010 •
Connecticut governor vetoed campaign finance bill.
Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed Senate Bill 551, a bill passed in response to the recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield regarding the state’s Citizens’ Election Program, due to concerns over the state budget. Governor Rell had previously indicated to legislators her intent to veto any bill which increased grants to candidates participating in the program, but legislators chose to increase from $3,000,000 to $6,000,000 the grant to candidates participating in the general election for governor.
Rell criticized the decision, stating legislators “have taken a program that was intended to remove the taint of special interests and corruption from political campaigns and turned it into a welfare program for politicians.” Legislators are now considering a veto override to save the bill.
For more of the story, here is an article in the Boston Globe:
“Conn. governor vetoes bill to fix campaign law,” by Susan Haigh.
August 2, 2010 •
On July 30, 2010, during a special session, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Senate Bill 551.
SB 551 is a response to the recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield regarding the state’s Citizens’ Election Program. If signed by Governor M. Jodi Rell, the bill would limit contributions from communicator lobbyists, members of the lobbyist’s immediate family, and political committees established or controlled by the lobbyist or lobbyist’s immediate family to $100, while also banning the bundling of contributions by the same individuals.
Further, the bill expands the list of items not considered to be a contribution, while also prohibiting the knowing solicitation of contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, principals of state contractors, and principals of prospective state contractors from the contractor’s employees or a subcontractor or principals of a subcontractor on behalf of exploratory or candidate committees, political committees authorized to make contributions or expenditures to or for the benefit of specified candidates, or a party committee.
Additionally, grants to participating candidates would increase to $6,000,000 for the general election campaign. However, Governor Rell has previously indicated her intent to veto any bill increasing grants to participating candidates, citing state budget concerns.
Photo by jimbowen0306 in Wikipedia.
July 16, 2010 •
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued two separate decisions in regards to the case of Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield on July 13, 2010, one decision affecting the Connecticut Campaign Finance Reform Act (CFRA) and another affecting the state’s Citizens Election Program (CEP).
In the first decision, the court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s decision upholding the CFRA’s ban on contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, and the principals of contractors and prospective state contractors, as well as the spouse and dependent children of these individuals. However, in a reversal of the lower court’s decision, the Second Circuit struck down the ban on contributions from lobbyists and their families.
In the second decision, the court overturned a prior U.S. District Court decision which had declared the Citizens Election Program’s public financing for qualifying candidates as unconstitutional on the basis it discriminated against minor parties and their candidates. The court, however, agreed with the earlier decision in finding the CEP to unconstitutionally infringe upon the First Amendment rights to free speech of privately funded wealthy candidates when the state’s program required extra public funds be distributed to publicly funded candidates when certain financing “triggers” had been achieved. The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission is expected to meet with the attorney general to determine the next course of action.
(Image from the National Atlas of the United States)
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