Green Party of Ct v. Garfield, Civil Action No. 3:06cv1030 (SRU).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Citation537 F.Supp.2d 359
Decision Date20 March 2008
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 3:06cv1030 (SRU).
PartiesGREEN PARTY OF CONNECTICUT, S. Michael Derosa, Libertarian Party of Connecticut, Elizabeth Gallo, Joanne P. Phillips, American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, Roger C. Vann, Association of Connecticut Lobbyists, Barry Williams, and Ann C. Robinson, Plaintiffs, v. Jeffrey GARFIELD, in his official capacity as Executive Director and General Counsel of the State Elections Enforcement Commission; Richard Blumenthal, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of Connecticut; Patricia Hendel, Robert N. Worgaftik, Jaclyn Bernstein, Rebecca Doty, Enid Johns Oresman, Dennis Riley, Michael Rion, Scott A. Storms, Sister Sally J. Tolles, in their official capacities as Officials and Members of the Office of State Ethics; and Benjamin Bycel, in his official capacity as Executive Director of the Office of State Ethics, Defendants, Audrey Blondin, Common Cause of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, Kim Hynes, and Tom Sevigny, Intervenor-Defendants.

David J. McGuire, Josh M. Hsu, American Civil Liberties Union, Hartford, CT, Mark J. Lopez, Lewis, Clifton & Nikolaidis, New York, NY, R. Bartley Halloran, Law Office of R. Bartley Halloran, Garrett S. Flynn, Law Offices of Garrett S. Flynn, LLC, Farmington, CT, for Plaintiffs.

Maura Murphy-Osborne, Perry A. Zinn Rowthorn, Attorney General's Office, Hartford, CT, for Defendants.

RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS and MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

STEFAN R. UNDERHILL, District Judge.

The Connecticut Legislature has enacted a campaign finance reform law that permits certain qualified candidates to receive public funds to conduct their campaigns. Plaintiffs filed a five-count amended complaint alleging that various of the law's provisions violate the United States Constitution.1 Defendants now move to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the challenges set forth in counts two and three, and that counts one, two, and three fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For reasons that follow, defendants' motions are granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

On June 21, 2004, then Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland resigned after he was accused of improperly accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and services from state contractors in exchange for the award of state contracts. On December 7, 2005, Rowland pled guilty to charges related to the scandal. In response to those, and other recent events in the state's history, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a new campaign finance reform law, Public Act 05-5 (the "Act").

A. The Act

One of the Act's provisions created the Citizens' Election Program ("CEP"), a voluntary public financing option for candidates seeking certain elective offices. Before a candidate can receive public funds under the CEP, however, the candidate must meet several requirements, and the requirements depend upon the candidate's party affiliation. A "major party" is "(A) a party or organization whose candidate for Governor at the last-preceding election for Governor received, under the designation of that political party or organization, at least twenty per cent of the whole number of votes cast for all candidates for Governor, or (B) a political party having, at the last-preceding election for Governor, a number of enrolled members on the active registry list equal to at least twenty per cent of the total number of enrolled members of all political parties on the active registry list in the state." Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-372(5).

To qualify for CEP funds, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, must raise a certain number of qualifying contributions in amounts of 100 dollars or less from individuals. Conn. Gen.Stat. §§ 9-702(b), 9-704. The total amount of qualifying contributions that a candidate must raise depends upon the office for which the candidate is running.2 Id. For major party candidates, there are no additional requirements to receive full public funding.3

Minor and petitioning party candidates (collectively "minor party candidates"), however, must satisfy at least one of two additional requirements to qualify for public funding. First, a minor party candidate can qualify for public funding by gathering signatures of qualified voters ("petitioning requirements"). Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-705(c)(2). If a candidate gathers signatures equal to 20 percent or more of the total number of votes cast in the previous election, the candidate is entitled to receive the full public grant for the general election. Id. If the candidate gathers signatures equal to 15 to 20 percent of the total vote in the previous election, the candidate is entitled to receive two-thirds of the full public grant for the general election. Id. If the candidate gathers signatures equal to 10 to 15 percent of the total vote in the previous election, the candidate is entitled to receive one-third of the full public grant for the general election.4 Id.

Second, a minor party candidate can qualify for public funding if the candidate, or another member of her party, received a certain percentage of the vote in the previous general election for the same office ("prior success formula"). If the candidate, or a member of her party, garners 20 percent of the vote in the preceding general election, she is entitled to receive the full public grant for the general election. Conn. Gen.Stat. §§ 9-705(c)(1), (g)(1). If the candidate, or a member of her party, garners 15 to 20 percent of the vote in the preceding general election, she is entitled to receive two-thirds of the full public grant for the general election. Id. If the candidate, or a member of her party, garners 10 to 15 percent of the vote in the preceding general election, she is entitled to receive one-third of the full public grant for the general election. Id. Because it is necessary to show support in a preceding election, this provision, as a practical matter, does not apply to a minor party candidate whose party has not run a relatively successful campaign in the preceding year for the same office. Again, the additional qualifying criteria apply only to minor party candidates; they do not apply to major party candidates. Plaintiffs have alleged that these additional requirements are, as a practical matter, impossible for most, if not all, minor party candidates to satisfy.

Minor party candidates, in certain elections, also may be entitled to post-election reimbursements if they achieve a certain level of support. Specifically, minor party candidates running for "Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Comptroller, Secretary of the State or State Treasurer shall be eligible to receive a supplemental grant from the fund after the general election if ... such candidate received a greater per cent of the whole number of votes cast for all candidates for said office at said election than the per cent of votes utilized by such candidate to obtain a general election campaign grant. ..." Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-705(c)(3).

The level of funding under the CEP depends upon the office sought, as well as party status: qualifying gubernatorial candidates receive 1.25 million dollars for the major party primary and 3 million dollars for the general election, Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-705(a); qualifying candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general, state comptroller, secretary of the state, and state treasurer receive 375,000 dollars for the major party primary and 750,000 dollars for the general election, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-705(b); qualifying candidates for state senate receive either 35,000 dollars or 75,000 dollars for the major party primary,5 and 85,000 dollars for the general election, Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-705(e); and qualifying candidates for state representative receive either 10,000 dollars or 25,000 dollars for the major party primary,6 and 25,000 dollars for the general election, Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-705(f). Fully qualified minor party candidates receive the same funds for the general election, but receive no funding for primaries. Minor party candidates who qualify and receive partial grants for the general election, however may raise and spend additional private funds in order to make up the difference between the partial grant and a full grant. Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-702(c).

Candidates who accept public funding may not accept any private contributions, other than the initial qualifying contributions, and, with a few exceptions, generally may not spend money in excess of the original full public grant. Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-702.

The CEP also contains provisions that provide for the release of additional public funds, in addition to the original full public grant, if the participating candidate is out-spent by a nonparticipating candidate or by any other non-candidate or organization (collectively "triggering provisions"). One triggering provision is tied to expenditures made by an opposing candidate who does not accept public funding and is not bound by any expenditure limits. If a nonparticipating candidate spends more than the amount of the full public grant, then the participating candidate is entitled to receive up to four additional grants in excess of the full public grant, each worth 25 percent of the original grant. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 9-713(a)-(d) ("nonparticipating candidate trigger"). The participating candidate may not immediately spend any given 25 percent grant — instead, the grant is initially held in escrow and the candidate may only match her opponent's excess spending dollar for dollar. Id. The excess matching grants that participating candidates are entitled to receive through the non-participating candidate trigger, however, are capped at 100 percent of the original full public grant. Conn. Gen.Stat. § 9-713(g).

The CEP also contains a triggering provision...

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3 cases
  • Doe v. Putnam Cnty., 16-CV-8191 (KMK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 28, 2018
    ...of the Plaintiffs' claims that their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights have been violated. Green Party of CT v. Garfield , 537 F.Supp.2d 359, 366–67 (D. Conn. 2008) (noting "the defendants' argument that the triggering provision does not chill speech goes to the merits, not to standing......
  • Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, Civil Action No. 3:06cv1030 (SRU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • December 19, 2008
    ...facts, procedural background, and holdings in the several previous rulings related to the same law. Green Party of Conn. v. Garfield, 537 F.Supp.2d 359 (D.Conn.2008), SIFMA v. Garfield, 469 F.Supp.2d 25 (D.Conn.2007), and Ass'n of Conn. Lobbyists LLC v. Garfield, 241 F.R.D. 100 3. Under the......
  • Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, Civil Action No. 3:06cv1030 (SRU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • August 27, 2009
    ...be held in escrow by the SEEC and distributed on a dollar-per-dollar basis. Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield ("Green Party I"), 537 F.Supp.2d 359, 363 (D.Conn.2008). As amended, rather than holding each grant in escrow, the participating candidate receives the full value of the supple......

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