BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who is currently exploring a run for Governor, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon in reaction to the State Election Enforcement Commission‘s ruling that he is disqualified from receiving a public campaign grant from the Citizens’ Election Fund.
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On Wednesday, the Commission issued a final decision that Ganim is not eligible for public financing in a potential run for Governor because of his corruption conviction. The legislature changed the law in 2013 while Ganim was serving time in federal prison. The change forbids those convicted of felonies related to their public office from participating in public financing.
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Ganim said he was not surprised by Wednesday’s decision.
“This ruling is disappointing but not surprising, given the draft previously released by SEEC. The law it is based on, however, is patently unfair and most likely unconstitutional. Those like me with a felony conviction long ago in their past have the legal ability in our state to restore their voting rights, run for and serve in elected office. There is simply no rational justification for denying equal access to public financing for all candidates who qualify for the ballot. This law makes it nearly impossible for tens of thousands of citizens to compete at a run for any state office or elected position. This section of the law also makes no public policy sense. It effectively prevents a candidate who has overcome parts of their past and restored their professional status from participating in a clean elections program. It knowingly and intentionally creates an uneven playing field with almost all state office candidates in Connecticut.
We need to continue to have a nationally recognized clean elections program, but one that provides a level playing field for all residents who want to consider making a contribution through public service. Ultimately, the strength of our democracy comes from the ability of voters – not the elections commission – to choose who should be elected governor or to any office in Connecticut.
Providing some candidates access to nearly $8,000,000 in public campaign financing while preventing others the ability to even compete for those dollars violates both the equal protection and free speech clauses of the US Constitution. I will be examining this ruling in detail with my legal team in the coming days, and will likely seek judicial intervention on this important voter rights issue.
This is about fairness for Connecticut voters to have the right to choose who they want to represent them as much as is it for good citizens to have the right to seek public service in a fair system.”
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