Controversial corruption bill proposed

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February 13, 2013

Connecticut

By Justin Haas

HARTFORD, Connecticut: A bill seeking to prevent candidates convicted of political corruption from obtaining public campaign funding is now before the Connecticut General Assembly. The bill was inspired by the most recent arrest of former state senator Ernie Newton.[1]

Newton was initially convicted of corruption in 2005, after serving 18 years in the Connecticut State Senate. In 2012, he unsuccessfully ran for election to the Senate in an attempt to regain his old seat. He was then arrested in January 2013 and charged with fraud after obtaining $80,550 in public campaign funding for the race.[1]

The bill's sponsor, Senator Edward Meyer (D), said "What this bill is saying is if you are convicted of a crime against the state, you should not get a financial benefit from the state. Up to $85,000 in campaign financing is a major benefit." This is in reference to the Citizen's Election Program, which provides up to $85,000 in public funding to candidates for state office if they raise $15,000 in private contributions. Newton was charged with reporting fraudulent contributions to obtain this money.[1]

The bill has raised some concerns about civil rights and whether these types of prohibitions against felons who have already paid for their crimes are legal.[1]

Newton said the following about the new bill, "If an ex-felon has a right to run for public office, he should be able to participate in every aspect of the game. "It means you're penalized for the rest of your life."[1]

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