Thursday, November 17, 2005

Connecticut Pols Pass the Buck on Campaign Finance Bill

As they have discussed possible changes to Connecticut's campaign finance laws over the last six months, lawmakers in the Constitution State have proved themselves lacking anything resembling a strong constitution and incapable of making law.

As Ted Mann reports in The Day (New London, CT), members of the Connecticut state legislature have still not come to an agreement on how to reform the state's campaign finance laws. The legislators are meeting in a special session called by Governor Rell, who took over for former governor John Rowland upon his resignation due in large part to accepting illegal gifts from campaign contributors.

This past summer, only two months after Rowland went to jail on corruption charges, the legislators used minor timing differences to torpedo campaign finance legislation, which included a program of public financing of campaigns. The state House and Senate hid behind a disagreement over when to start the program.

In the current special session, legislators appear again to be feigning significant differences in order to tank any hopes of reform in Connecticut.

While the exact reasons for the failure to pass a reform bill have been clouded by the closed-door nature of the discussions, what is clear is that politicians are fighting to preserve the system which put them into office. Self-interest and political careerism are trumping the enactment of positive policy for the people of Connecticut.

Legislators' inability to see past their own self interest on issues like campaign finance reform are a large part of the rationale for the citizens' initiative process. As Connecticut has no initiative process, if the governor and legislature can't come to an agreement to clean up an obviously dirty system, the people may be forced to turn to an entirely new set of elected officials after the next election.

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