Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Remember Rowland?

This just in by email:

Remember Rowland? The Time for Reform is Now.

This is Mike Panetta – almost two years ago I launched the dumprowland.com web site to give citizens like you a platform to make your voice heard in Hartford. Together we kept the pressure on state representatives and senators and eventually forced Rowland to resign.

It's been a long time since I sent you an email, but today I had to dust off the email list and remind everyone who took action last year that the job is not done. Campaign finance reform is long overdue and the clock is running out on getting something done this year. Wouldn't it be ironic if Rowland gets out of jail before reforms are passed? Unless you take action, that will happen.

I recently received an email from Democracy for Connecticut that I've included below. They forwarded an article from Andy Sauer, who is the executive director of Connecticut Common Cause, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog organization based in Hartford that advocates for ethics, democracy and campaign finance reform.

Read the article below then call your representatives in Hartford and demand that they pass comprehensive campaign finance reform before Rowland is out of jail. You can reach your representatives at the following numbers and emails:

State Representative: The Honorable Stephen Jarmoctel: 860-240-8585email:


State Senator:

The Honorable John Kissel

tel: 860-240-8800email: John.A.Kissel@cga.ct.gov

If the above is blank, you can find the information at http://www.cga.ct.gov/
Thanks,Mike Panetta
From Andy Sauer
Executive Director, Connecticut Common Cause

For all those who believe campaign finance reform is desperately needed in Connecticut and the nation, the time has come to make yourself known. The need is inarguable. After all, the state has had five scandals in six years and sent a governor to prison for corruption. Connecticut needs a measure to curb contributions from lobbyists and state contractors, eliminate campaign finance loopholes such as the notorious "ad books" and put into place a voluntary public financing of elections.

Wouldn't it be fitting to have such a law on the books by the time former Gov. John G. Rowland is released from prison - which will occur, by the way, in less than 100 days? Of course it would.

Yet, you should know that the odds of passing campaign finance reform are low. The Democratic leaders in the Senate and House have a proposal which they have not yet released to the public.

They are disseminating it to key members of their caucus and it will probably be further discussed before it becomes a formal proposal. They say they will meet to consider the bill in special session either this week or sometime before Thanksgiving.

If the holiday comes and goes without the legislators having met, the issue is dead for this year.
And the Republicans? Unfortunately, most members of the GOP have taken a wait-and-see attitude.

Here is the problem facing both parties. Despite their public statements, many if not most legislators are loathe to give up the very thing that brought them into power: money.

It's no secret that campaign finance reform is the one issue politicians hate to love. To their constituents and to the media, politicians will talk about the importance of reducing the influence of special-interest dollars. They'll cite their record of consistently supporting campaign finance reform bills. They may even voluntarily eschew contributions from lobbyists and state contractors to demonstrate their commitment to campaign finance reform.

But this year above all other years we should measure commitment not by intentions but by results.

During a year that has seen an ex-governor sent to prison for corruption and an ex-senator plead guilty to corruption charges, the people of Connecticut shouldn't be satisfied with empty gestures and strident rhetoric. If seemingly all our elected officials support campaign finance reform, then they are expected to get the job done - no excuses.

The people of Connecticut should not be fooled by elected officials' assertions that they would support campaign finance reform as long as it wasn't "taxpayer-funded" elections, and that they feel their constituents would object to using public dollars for political campaigns.

Don't believe it when you hear it, because they won't be telling you the whole story. They will neglect to tell you that the public financing of elections would cost as little as $10 million a year, roughly $3 per state resident and only eight-tenths of a percent of the total state budget - a reasonable price for elections that are not underwritten by powerful special interests who expect a return on investment for each campaign contribution.

They will neglect to tell you about the millions of dollars lost on corruption - from the $57 million Middletown Juvenile Detention Center at the heart of the Rowland scandal now deemed useless, to the millions of dollars in finder's fees given to political insiders by investment firms who likely (no one knows for sure) charged them back to the state.

They will neglect to tell you that almost a third of the legislators run unopposed - not for a lack of equally qualified candidates, but for the simple reason that the average citizen does not have the means to adequately fund a competitive race for office.

And, they will neglect to tell you that lobbyists and corporate interests, through campaign contributions alone, have more influence over government than they would ever dare admit.

Voters understand the relationship between political dollars and political action. According to a Zogby International survey released in May, 62.4 percent of Connecticut voters surveyed said elected officials in Connecticut are "mostly concerned with the needs of those who pay for their campaigns."

The only ones who evidently fail to see the connection between political contributions and government impropriety are the elected officials who fail to enact campaign finance reform.
Unless the people of Connecticut call their elected representatives, elected officials will find a way out of addressing the growing problem of money in politics.

If you believe genuine campaign finance reform is needed in Connecticut, call your state senator and state representative today.

Since Rowland has gone to prison, a state senator has pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Aside from the names, has anything really changed in state government? Has Connecticut learned anything from the worst scandal in the state's 371-year history? This may be the best and last chance Connecticut has to enact the strongest campaign finance reform proposal the nation has ever seen. Let's not squander it.

Andy Sauer is executive director of Connecticut Common Cause, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog organization based in Hartford that advocates for ethics, democracy and campaign finance reform.

The dumprowland.com site is no longer active, if you would like to unsubscribe please email mike.panetta@gmail.com


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