Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield: The First Amendment Blunts Reforms
July 16, 2010
If one thinks of campaign finance and pay-to-play reforms as a tool chest, Connecticut seemed to have a wide-variety of intricately designed instruments adopted in response to corruption scandals that led to the resignation of Governor Rowland. On July 13, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued two decisions in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, however, that have considerably blunted the effectiveness of some of these devices. On the one hand, the Court upheld Connecticut’s pay-to-play ban against contributions to candidates for state offices by state contractors, prospective state contractors, and their principals, spouses and dependent children. On the other, it struck down, on First Amendment grounds, the following provisions:
- the ban against contributions by lobbyists (and their spouses and dependent children) to candidates for state offices.
- the ban against contractors’ and lobbyists’ soliciting contributions on behalf of candidates for state offices.
- “trigger” provisions granting supplemental public funding to candidates participating in the Citizens Election Program on the basis of the level of expenditures made by non-participating opponents or independent expenditures opposing the participating candidate.