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ConnPIRG Joins Lawmakers to Oppose Clean Elections Rollback
Organization mobilizes voters against cuts to landmark election reform program
HARTFORD, CT – On Thursday ConnPIRG called on Connecticut lawmakers to withdrawal proposals cutting funding for the state’s Citizens’ Election Program. Designed to combat the influence of big money in politics, the program provides public campaign funds to qualifying candidates who demonstrate broad support from small donors. ConnPIRG initiated a statewide effort to mobilize constituents against the proposed rollback.
“Coast-to-coast, voters are calling for election reform that reduces the influence of special interests in our democracy,” said Evan Preston, ConnPIRG State Director. “Meanwhile, Connecticut lawmakers have reversed course. Eliminating funds for a clean election program is a short sighted budgeting gimmick that’s going to hurt Connecticut’s government in the long run. You can’t balance the budget by cutting good government, it just doesn’t add up.”
Representative Diana Urban said “The Citizen's Election Program has been and is one of Connecticut's greatest achievements. It is particularly important to be vigilant in protecting this program as we see big money continuing to invade the electoral process. Now is the time to expand the program not suspend it. Since the advent of the program it has made it possible for people to run who might never have had the chance. It has taken money out of the equation and replaced it with a focus on issues and voter contact.”
Representative Matt Lesser said “For me, this is a litmus test issue. If the Democratic Party stands for anything it’s for the middle class against corporate money and special interests. The last thing anybody in my party should be proposing is a return to the shady practices of the past,” remarked State Representative Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown).
Representative Sean Scanlon said “Without a doubt, the Citizens Election Program has changed Connecticut government for the better. While we have tough choices ahead when it comes to resolving our budget deficit, returning to the dark days when lobbyists and special interests ran the capitol shouldn't be one of them. Money is ruining politics at the federal level and I'm proud to be joining with my colleagues and our allies today to lead the fight in preventing the same thing from happening here in Connecticut," Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford) said.
The proposed cuts to Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program come only two weeks after major clean election victories in Maine and Seattle. U.S. PIRG, the federation of state PIRGs helped to mobilize voters in both areas to pass ballot initiatives enacting small donor empowerment programs that reduce the influence of large donors and special interest groups.
“Connecticut’s clean election law gives candidates in our state a chance to prioritize constituents over big donors and special interest groups," said ConnPIRG’s Preston. “The people of Connecticut have made it clear that they want to move toward getting special interest money out of politics and provide a platform for candidates supported by small donors, not just deep-pocketed special interests. Cutting the Citizens’ Election Program moves Connecticut in the exact opposite direction.”
ConnPIRG has organized staff and volunteers across the state to talk with constituents about proposed cuts to the Citizens’ Election Program and mobilize opposition to the proposal.
On Tuesday, Connecticut’s bipartisan State Elections Enforcement Commission issued a joint resolution opposing proposed changes to the states’ clean elections program. In addition to U.S. PIRG and ConnPIRG, election reform advocates Common Cause and Connecticut Citizen Action Group are mobilizing constituents to oppose the proposed cuts.
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