Dan Malloy: A gubernatorial candidate's commitment pays off
May 10, 2010
This is what leadership looks like: Dan Malloy's commitment to Connecticut's landmark Citizens Election Program. He has stood by it during the arduous process of raising qualifying dollars to become the first candidate eligible for public funds to finance a campaign for governor.
Bravo, Mr. Malloy.
The former mayor of Stamford, a Democrat, is showing the way forward in using a campaign financing system cleansed of as much special-interest influence as possible, and one that levels the playing field for rich and poor candidates alike.
Yes, the program is currently under court scrutiny. Further, it is voluntary: Candidates are still free to self-finance or let friends who may be self-interested pay their campaign bills.
Whether a candidate opts in or out of this new system will be a factor in how that candidate will be judged this election season. Of course, it will not be the only factor.
Still, we wish all candidates would do it Mr. Malloy's way. It's a prescription for clean politics and corruption-free government.
The Citizens Election Fund does not use tax revenue. It is filled with proceeds from the sale of unclaimed property by the state.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell and legislators have raided the fund in recent months to help balance the budget, but there should be enough money left this election cycle to give grants to qualifying candidates for governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of the state, comptroller and those running for state House and Senate seats.
By raising $250,000 — all but $25,000 of it raised in-state — candidates for governor qualify for as much as $2.5 million from the Citizens Election Fund to campaign for their party's nomination.
A nominee for governor who opts into the system will have up to $8.5 million to spend during the 23 weeks between party conventions in May and the general election in November. That's enough money to run a competitive campaign. And it allows candidates to concentrate on their message to voters rather than having to spend time raising money.
Better yet, those candidates' campaign war chests will be free of special-interest taint.
So far, Mr. Malloy is the only gubernatorial candidate to have qualified for public funds. Juan Figueroa pledged to do so, but he dropped out of the race Friday, saying he couldn't raise enough money.
Democratic candidate Ned Lamont and Republican candidate Tom Foley, both millionaires, have opted out of public financing.
We wish they hadn't. High office shouldn't be for sale to the highest bidder.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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