Court Upholds Connecticut pay-to-play law

A federal court on Friday upheld Connecticut's ban on campaign contributions from lobbyists and state contractors, part of a large package of ethics and campaign reform measures passed following the conviction of former Gov. John Rowland.

When Gov. Rowland of Connecticut pled guilty to corruption charges in 2005, he acknowledged accepting bribes from contractors in return for awarding those contractors business with the state.

In the wake of that scandal, Connecticut lawmakers a broad ethics and reform package that banned lobbyists, state contractors and prospective state contractors from making contributions to legislative and statewide offices, candidate-affiliated political action committees (PACS) and party committees.

Our colleagues at the Brennan Center for Justice assisted in arguing the case before the court. Laura MacCleery, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, had this to say Friday:

"Today's decision is a clear victory for good government. The current shameful situation in Illinois -- and the earlier corruption scandals in Connecticut that prompted enactment of this law -- show that too often politicians are willing to trade away their offices for private gain. This law protects taxpayers by assuring that those seeking to do business with the state are not paving their way with campaign contributions. Ending pay-to-play government must be a primary goal of both state and federal officials."

With the nation still reeling from the Blagojevich scandal, the court's decision to uphold this law is especially timely. Click here (pdf) to read the court's opinion.