Topic:
GRANTS; LEGISLATION; STATISTICAL INFORMATION; GOVERNORS; CAMPAIGNS - PUBLIC FINANCING; ELECTIONS (GENERAL);
Location:
CAMPAIGNS - PUBLIC FINANCING;

OLR Research Report


January 5, 2006

 

2006-R-0020

QUALIFYING AS A PETITIONING CANDIDATE UNDER
THE NEW PUBLIC FINANCING SYSTEM

By: Kristin Sullivan, Research Analyst

You asked (1) how a person qualifies for a grant as a petitioning candidate for governor under the new public financing system and (2) how this process differs from current law.

SUMMARY

Recently the General Assembly passed An Act Concerning Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform for Statewide Constitutional and General Assembly Offices (October 25 Special Session, Public Act 05-5). The act establishes a voluntary Citizens' Election Program under which candidates for statewide and legislative office can receive grants to finance their campaigns. Major party candidates can use the grants to finance their primary and general election campaigns, and minor party and petitioning candidates for their general election campaigns. A “petitioning candidate” is one who is a new party's candidate or running with no party designation, and who submits a nominating petition that meets certain signature requirements and is approved by the secretary of the state. The program is effective December 31, 2006 and applicable to 2008 and 2010 legislative and statewide office races, respectively.

The Citizens' Election Program requires every candidate who participates, including those who petition, to follow certain steps to qualify for a grant. These include certifying with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC), agreeing to limit spending and abide by the requirements of the program, and receiving a specified amount of qualifying contributions. A petitioning candidate must additionally have his petition signed by a number of qualified electors equal to at least 10% of the total votes cast for the same office at the last preceding regular election. The number of required qualifying signatures is greater than that required to run for legislative or statewide office; at least 1% of the total votes cast for that office at the last preceding election, or 7,500, whichever is less (CGS 9-453D). A qualified elector is a registered voter who is eligible to vote for the candidate for office.

PROCESS FOR PETITIONING CANDIDATES

To qualify for a grant under the Citizens' Election Program, every candidate, whether major or minor party, or petitioning, must (1) certify as a participating candidate by filing an affidavit with the SEEC, (2) receive the required amount of qualifying contributions and return those that do not meet the qualifying contribution criteria, (3) agree to limit spending, and (4) submit an application that the SEEC approves. A petitioning candidate must also collect the required number of signatures on his nominating petition.

Affidavit

The act requires every candidate for nomination or election to a statewide or legislative office to file an affidavit with the SEEC when he forms a candidate committee or certifies that the registration is not required. (By law, candidates who finance their campaigns entirely from personal funds or do not receive or spend over $1,000 from other sources are exempt from the filing requirement and must attest to their eligibility for this exemption in a sworn statement (CGS 9-333j(b)). The affidavit must include a written certification of whether the candidate intends to abide by the spending limit under the Citizens' Election Program. Once a candidate certifies his intent to either abide or not abide by the spending limit, he becomes a “participating candidate” or a “nonparticipating candidate,” respectively.

Qualifying Contributions

Candidates who want to participate in the program must qualify by raising a specified amount from individual donors in contributions of no more than $100. For statewide office candidates, a minimum amount must come from individuals who are state residents. For state senators and state representatives, a minimum number of contributions of at least $5 must come from individuals residing in municipalities included, in whole or in part, in their districts. A gubernatorial candidate, including one who is petitioning, must raise $250,000, of which at least $225,000 must come from state residents.

Spending Limits

The number of signatures a petitioning candidate receives determines the amount of his grant and therefore, his spending limit. He can receive a grant for the general election only if a number of qualified electors equal to at least 10% of the number of votes cast for the same office at the last preceding regular election sign his petition. In that case, the amount of the grant is one-third of the grant for major party candidates (i.e., for gubernatorial candidates, one-third of $3,000,000, or $1,000,000). If the number of qualified electors who sign the petition is equal to at least 15% of the number of votes cast for the same office at the last preceding regular election, the amount of the grant is two-thirds of the grant for major party candidates. If the number of qualified electors who sign the petition is equal to at least 20% of the votes cast, the amount of the grant is the same. Table 1 shows the spending limits for petitioning candidates for governor who participate in the Citizens' Election Program.

Table 1: Petitioning Gubernatorial Candidates' Spending Limits

 

Petition Signed by Qualified Electors Totaling at Least 10% of All Votes Cast for Same Office at Last Preceding Regular Election

Petition Signed by Qualified Electors Totaling at Least 15% of All Votes Cast for Same Office at Last Preceding Regular Election

Petition Signed by Qualified Electors Totaling at Least 20% of All Votes Cast for Same Office at Last Preceding Regular Election

Qualifying contributions

$250,000

$250,000

$250,000

Primary grant

N/A

N/A

N/A

Spending Limit total up to primary

N/A

N/A

N/A

General election grant*

1,000,000

2,000,000

3,000,000

Spending limit total for entire election cycle

$1,250,000

$2,250,000

$3,250,000

N/A means not applicable

* Petitioning candidates can apply for a general election grant at any time during the election cycle once they have received the required amount of qualifying contributions.

To be adjusted for inflation (see below).

For statewide office elections held in 2014, the SEEC must, by January 15, 2014, and every four years thereafter, adjust the grant amounts in accordance with any change during the four preceding calendar years in the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers as

published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (It must do the same by January 15, 2010, and every two years thereafter, for legislative elections.)

Application

Every candidate, together with his campaign treasurer, must submit a signed application for grant money to the SEEC. The application must include a written certification that the:

1. candidate committee has received the required qualifying contributions;

2. committee has repaid all loans;

3. committee has returned contributions of $5 or more from anyone who failed to provide his name and address;

4. committee has returned all contributions or portions thereof that do not meet the criteria for qualifying contributions and sent all excess qualifying contributions to the Citizens' Election Fund;

5. committee treasurer will comply with all program requirements;

6. committee will deposit public funds, upon receipt, in the committee's bank account;

7. treasurer will spend public funds for lawful committee purposes consistent with existing law and in accordance with regulations that the SEEC adopts; and

8. committee will return unspent grants it received from the fund if the candidate withdraws, becomes ineligible, or dies.

The application must be accompanied by a cumulative itemized accounting, as of three days before the application date, of all funds received, expenditures made, and expenses incurred but not yet paid. And the campaign treasurer must swear to the accounting under penalty of false statement.

A petitioning candidate, including one running for governor, may apply for a grant for his general election campaign after he has received the required number of signatures and the secretary of the state has approved his nominating petition.

SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS UNDER CURRENT LAW AND PUBLIC FINANCING

A petitioning candidate for governor will be required to receive more signatures to qualify for a grant under the new public financing system than he must presently receive to petition onto the ballot. However, the signature requirement will remain unchanged from current law for a petitioning candidate who does not participate in the Citizens' Election Program, even after the law goes into effect on December 31, 2006.

At the last preceding regular election for statewide office candidates (2002), 1,022,998 qualified electors voted for governor. Under the new public financing system, a petitioning gubernatorial candidate would have to receive a number of signatures from qualified electors equal to at least 10% of that number, or 102,300, to receive a grant during the next regular election. If he did not participate, he would have to receive 7,500 signatures to petition onto the ballot (since 1% of 1,022,998, or 10,230, is greater than 7,500), the same as under current law.

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