The Democratic Governors Association filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday alleging that Connecticut’s campaign laws infringe on their First Amendment rights to spend money on behalf of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Malloy, who is seeking reelection this year, has been a fundraiser for the DGA and member since winning his election in 2010. The 32-page lawsuit says Connecticut’s campaign laws have “forced” the DGA into “a constitutionally untenable choice: it can avoid protected speech in which it seeks to engage; it can forego the support and participation of Connecticut’s citizens in raising the funds that it needs to maintain a robust national program; or it can entertain very real threats of investigation, fines, and criminal prosecution.” It fears what will happen if it makes an expenditure on behalf of Malloy or against one of his opponents. “If DGA engages in its desired course of conduct, it runs a serious risk of being prosecuted for violating the Challenged Provisions and Rulings. DGA faces an even greater risk of protracted and costly investigation for engaging in what is lawful, First Amendment-protected conduct,” the complaint states.
Essentially, the group believes that it would find itself back in court as soon as it begins spending money in Connecticut because the SEEC may raise questions about that spending. Since Malloy was a fundraiser for the organization, it would violate campaign finance rules if that money he raised found its way back to Malloy’s campaign for governor.
Malloy became the finance chair of the DGA in 2011 and helped it raise $20 million that year. His tenure as finance chair has since concluded, but he remains a member of the group.
Michael Brandi, executive director of the SEEC who is a named defendant in the lawsuit, said his office is aware of it and will be represented by the attorney general’s office.
Attorney General George Jepsen said they are still reviewing the complaint.