The Citizens’ Election Program, which I have always strongly supported, has been ruled unconstitutional.
This is an awful shame. That program was intended to accomplish a couple of goals: first, to remove a huge barrier to entry to running for public office; second, to remove some of the corrupting influence of large donors (it’s impossible to eradicate completely), third, to level the playing field between candidates, and lastly, to allow candidates to spend more time meeting voters instead of raising money. It was a success, as many candidates attested during the last cycle. A more accessible, fair and vibrant democracy is worth the price.
The complaints the judge made are valid, I think, and the law should be amended to make it possible for minor parties to have the same access to the ballot. Gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy said:
“I am a staunch supporter of public campaign financing. The most important aspect of any such law is that it is fair to all parties involved, creating a level playing field for elections. This ruling contends that the law does not achieve that very simple goal. If that’s true, then the state needs to fix those problems so that the program achieves what our lawmakers intended when they created it. Hopefully we can do that in a timely fashion and the program will be stronger for having gone through the process.”
This is absolutely correct. Instead of giving up and abandoning a promising program, let’s fix the law and do public financing right.
The legislature should meet in special session before the end of 2009 to fix the law. It should be in place for the 2010 election cycle. If our leaders truly do support public financing, they should act quickly to protect it.