Legal Center, Connecticut Watchdogs, File in Defense of State’s Post-Citizens United Campaign Finance Reforms
Last night the Campaign Legal Center, joined by three Connecticut watchdog groups, filed an amici brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut urging the court to deny a request for preliminary injunction being sought by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) that would undermine the new campaign finance laws passed by the state in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The DGA seeks 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 – without having to abide by Connecticut’s contribution limits or source prohibitions, and in many cases without disclosure.
Common Cause of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the League of Women Voters of Connecticut joined in the brief. Patrick Tomasiewicz, of Fazzano & Tomasiewicz, is serving as Counsel of Record in the filings.
The DGA is asking the court to declare that certain provisions of the state’s 2013 law cannot constitutionally be applied to a broad range of political activities and to prohibit the state’s Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC) from examining all relevant facts if it is called upon to determine whether any of the DGA’s expenditures have been coordinated with the Malloy campaign and should be treated as contributions. The DGA sued after the SEEC said that fundraising by a candidate for an organization could be evidence of coordination in some circumstances. The DGA’s lawsuit claims that this ruling and parts of the 2013 reform law the Governor signed are interfering with its plans to have Governor Malloy raise money for the DGA not subject to the state’s campaign finance laws while it makes unlimited expenditures for ads supporting Governor Malloy’s reelection.
“The Democratic Governors Association is asking the court for the right to ignore the state’s coordination rules with impunity,” said Larry Noble, Of Counsel to the Campaign Legal Center. “This challenge is particularly galling in light of the fact that Governor Malloy when he signed the reforms into law last year described the Citizens United decision as a ‘tragic decision’ that ‘reversed years of campaign finance reforms and allowed unlimited private money into politics, empowering the wealthy few at the expense of our democracy.’ If the DGA is successful, it will hobble the ability of the state to determine when outside groups are coordinating with candidates and to prevent the corruption that can arise from that kind of abuse of the democratic process.”
The brief filed by the reform groups asks the court to dismiss the DGA suit outright or deny the motion for a preliminary injunction on grounds that the DGA is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims.
To read the amici brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the League of Women Voters of Connecticut (May 13, 2014), click here.
To read the groups' motion to file as amici, (May 13, 2014), click here.