10 Years Ago, Connecticut Got Big Money Out of Its Elections. Now Democrats Are Gutting the Program.
The landmark public financing system is under threat.
Most Americans recognize that our democracy is under assault by big money. According to a 2015 NYT/CBS poll, a full 84 percent of Americans believe money has too much influence in our elections, and 85 percent want fundamental changes to our campaign financing system. Last year, 10 ballot initiatives to enact democracy reform passed across the country, from liberal cities such as Berkeley and San Francisco to the deep red state of South Dakota.
These initiatives ranged from campaign contribution limits to lobbying restrictions to arguably the most important method of cleaning up our elections: public financing. This upswell is encouraging, but it is only the start. Those working to clean up the system would do well to look toward the few states where citizens have already passed groundbreaking and even further-reaching legislation to reduce the role of big, private money in state elections. Among the top of the list is Connecticut, a state that, with the introduction of the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) in 2005, seriously curbed the influence of corporations and the rich on state elections.
Yet, this beacon of American democracy could soon dim, as the state legislature is on the verge of gutting the law that gave the state its democratic promise.