Defending Citizens Election Program

May 9, 2017

Representative Andy Fleischmann joined his Democratic colleagues and advocates of good government in urging lawmakers to resist efforts to dismantle the Citizens Election Program.

During a press conference at the Legislative Office Building, Fleischmann and others warned that the dynamics of the way the legislature operates would revert to the corrupt practices of the Rowland years, if the Citizens Election Program were eliminated.

Rep. Fleischmann, who served in the legislature before the program was created, recalled how big money previously dominated and influenced elections and the work of lawmakers. And he remembered the fight he and others led for reform and the creation of the Citizens Election Program.

“We were told at the time that we were naïve and things would not change. And then we had a state treasurer go to prison, a governor go to prison and people’s eyes finally opened,” he said.

“I can tell you we will go back to the system of undue influence by big money on election campaigns, if the program ends,” he told the press conference.

Representative Matthew Lesser of Middletown also defended of the program.

“We sometimes have amnesia in this building as not too long ago Connecticut had a deplorable reputation across the country for politicians – mayors, state officials and even a governor – going to prison for corrupt practices involving money and election campaigns,” Lesser said.

“As a result, legislators on both sides of the aisle decided that money and politics could not be mixed anymore and legislation creating the Citizens Election Program was passed,” he said.

Since its enactment, the program has become one of the most successful experiments in public campaign finance in the United States, the legislators said.