New studies detail failings of Citizens’ Election Program

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released preliminary results of a study today showing that state legislators who accepted taxpayer funds for their campaigns in 2008 did not reduce their pattern of voting with interest groups after the program was implemented. In many cases, lawmakers voted more often with the most powerful lobbying groups in Connecticut.

The Connecticut legislature is examining changes to the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) after a federal court ruled the program unconstitutional. Backers of the CEP offered several rationales for pushing the program, prominently claiming that the system limited the influence of interest groups.

“The only ‘fix’ that legislators should impose on the Citizens’ Election Program is its dismantling,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Taxpayer financed campaigns have failed to mute the influence of interest groups in Connecticut and research across the spectrum shows that politicians are raising money from the same people as before.”

In the report, “Meet the New Legislature, Same as the Old Legislature,” CCP studied the voting records of 121 state representatives and senators who served in the 2007-2008 legislature, participated in the CEP in 2008, and served in the 2009 legislature. CCP compared their records to the legislative positions of four interest groups; The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), Connecticut Hospital Association, and the Connecticut Association of Health Plans. Each of these groups has ranked among the top ten in lobbying expenditures in the past three years.

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing

Meet the New Legislature, Same as the Old Legislature: Early findings of an examination of legislator voting patterns in the first year of the Citizens’ Election Program

This report measures changes in the voting patterns of legislators who served in the Connecticut General Assembly during the 2007 – 08 session and accepted taxpayer dollars for their 2008 re-election campaign. By identifying significant interest groups and comparing their legislative priorities to voting patterns, any noticeable change in voting since the beginning of the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) would potentially provide evidence that freeing legislators from private, voluntary contributions has indeed made legislators more responsive to citizens and less responsive to so-called “special interests.” Based on the study’s findings, there is no evidence to support the contention that providing taxpayer dollars to legislative candidates reduces the likelihood that a legislator will vote with an interest group.

Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Connecticut, tax financing, taxpayer financed campaigns, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Connecticut

CCP to testify at FEC coordination hearing this week

The Federal Election Commission will hold a two-day hearing starting tomorrow on its coordinated communications rulemaking.

The FEC solicited supplemental comments after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC shifted the regulatory landscape.

The Center for Competitive Politics submitted initial and supplemental comments. CCP vice president and co-founder Steve Hoersting will testify Wednesday.

A full witness list and submitted comments can be accessed via the FEC’s press release on the hearing.

Filed Under: Blog

The Myth of the Level Playing Field: Knowledge, Affect, and Repitition in Public Debate

In this article, Jeremy N. Sheff discredits the misconception that measures taken to “level the playing field” through campaign finance reform lead to a more competitive political arena. Sheff finds that the answer to calls by proponents of reform isn’t regulation, but rather encouraging members of society to engage with their neighbors to build civic communities that bring policy problems to light so that they can be solved through rational public policy. The author emphasizes that policymakers should begin to focus on “how to ameliorate the source of non-optimal political decision-making:  the political ignorance, non-rational decision-making, and civic disengagement of the average citizen.” Sheff stresses the need to carefully consider the consequences of broad campaign finance regulations before using them as “magic bullets” to solve normative dilemmas.

Filed Under: Faulty Assumptions, Research, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.