On a partisan vote of 79 to 70, the House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday that could test the limits of the states’ ability to regulate campaign finances in the post-Citizens United era by imposing rules intended to end the use of untraceable dark money in Connecticut elections. Republicans opposed the reforms as insufficient, saying they fail to close loopholes that allow unlimited money to flow into publicly financed campaigns for state office, despite a promise by candidates participating in the voluntary program to abide by spending and contribution limits. Democrats rejected a series of GOP amendments that would have closed avenues that now allow donors to funnel money into legislative and other state races, such as the ability of state parties to make unlimited expenditures on behalf of candidates.
“Why are we here dealing with campaign finance reform and we’re not addressing that issue? That is a glaring loophole in our supposedly clean election law and should be in this bill,” said Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin. “Its absence is very conspicuous in my eyes.”
Despite those limits, the bill is a major step toward stopping untraceable money in Connecticut elections, such as a mysterious $1.17 million donation from an Ohio group that paid for ads attacking Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2014.