Federal Court Denies Injunction to Democratic Governors Association, Partially Dismisses Challenge to Connecticut’s Post-Citizens United Reforms


Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut denied the Democratic Governors Association’s (DGA) request for a preliminary injunction and partially dismissed the DGA’s challenge to a number of the State of Connecticut’s post-Citizens United campaign finance reforms.  The DGA was seeking to make unlimited “independent” expenditures in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s candidacy while at the same time having Governor Malloy fundraise for the DGA outside of Connecticut’s contribution limits and source prohibitions, and in many cases without disclosure.

The DGA sued after Connecticut’s State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC) said that fundraising by a candidate for an organization could be evidence of coordination in some circumstances.  The DGA’s lawsuit claimed that the SEEC’s ruling and parts of the 2013 reform statute the Governor signed into law are interfering with its plans to have Governor Malloy raise money for the DGA not subject to the state’s campaign finance laws, while DGA makes unlimited expenditures for ads supporting Governor Malloy’s reelection. 

Judge Janet C. Hall granted Connecticut’s motion to dismiss the “coordination” challenge on the ground that DGA lacked standing, finding the perceived threat that the state will prosecute DGA for violation of the coordination restrictions purely speculative.  And though the court did conclude that DGA has standing to challenge the state law definition of “expenditure,” the court denied DGA’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the group is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its challenge to the law.

“We are very pleased that Judge Hall rejected the DGA’s efforts to undermine the campaign finance reforms Governor Malloy signed into law last year,” said Larry Noble, Of Counsel to the Campaign Legal Center.  “The decision stops the DGA from moving much of its spending for Governor Malloy’s reelection into the shadows and allows the SEEC to ensure that the DGA’s support for the governor’s candidacy is truly independent of the governor’s campaign, as the law requires.  This is a victory for the people of Connecticut.”

The Legal Center, joined by three Connecticut watchdog groups, filed amici briefs in the case urging the court to deny the preliminary injunction requested and to instead dismiss the suit.

“We are pleased that the DGA did not succeed in undermining Connecticut’s strong disclosure and coordination laws,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, senior vice president for program and strategy of Common Cause.  “We are grateful to the attorneys at the Campaign Legal Center for their expertise on disclosure laws and their work on the amici brief that they submitted on behalf of Common Cause of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the League of Women Voters of Connecticut.”

Patrick Tomasiewicz, of Fazzano & Tomasiewicz, is serving as Counsel of Record in the filings.

To read today’s ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut denying the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and granting in part the state's motion to dismiss the suit, click here.

To read the supplemental amici brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the League of Women Voters of Connecticut (June 6, 2014), click here. 

To read the groups’ first amici brief (May 13, 2014), click here.