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Government’s Thumb on the Election Scales

Connecticut’s taxpayer-funded campaigns program paid for nearly half of state campaign spending in 2010 according to new research from the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. The Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) accounted for $26.1 million of the $53.5 million spent by all candidates for state offices.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for the campaigns of candidates they oppose,” said Heath W. Fahle, the report’s author.

The Yankee Institute analysis of 2010 campaign financing data found that taxpayer dollars filled the coffers of 279 of the 419 candidates who ran for office, including 74% of all incumbents, 67% of Republicans, and 83% of Democratic candidates. At least one candidate for every state office on the ballot used public funds and 95 contests featured only taxpayer-funded candidates.

Other key facts include:
• Excluding two self-financing gubernatorial candidates, taxpayer funds made up 79% of the total spent
• Incumbents were more likely to use tax dollars to run for re-election than challengers or candidates for open seats; Democrats were more likely to use them than Republicans
• CEP paid out a total of $10.9 million, or 32%, of the total $34.5 million spent in the race for Governor
• A total of $10.9 million was spent in all General Assembly contests, including $8.4 million in public funds
• Only one legislative challenger didn’t accept taxpayer funding, took on a publicly-funded incumbent and still won – Dr. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury

Fahle concluded, ‘Taxpayers probably might be surprised to learn that they paid for half of most lawn signs, bumper stickers, and mailers that they saw last year – but they did.”

The study, Government’s Thumb on the Election Scales, is the second written by Heath W. Fahle, the Institute’s Policy Director. In October 2009, he also did the first independent analysis of taxpayer-financed campaigns in Connecticut, Slanting the Playing Field.

The report is available online at http://www.yankeeinstitute.org/docs/CEP2010.pdf

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