Sen. Flexer Makes a Stand for a Stronger Democracy in Connecticut
Votes in committee for bills to increase voting, require disclosure of taxes, trace independent expenditures in campaigns
State Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson) made a stand for democracy in Connecticut on Monday, leading passage of several bills designed to increase transparency and voter participation.
Sen. Flexer voted for the bills in the Government Administration and Elections Committee, where she serves as co-chair.
House Bill 6575, “AN ACT CONCERNING DISCLOSURE OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES’ FEDERAL TAX RETURNS,” passed on a party-line vote (Republicans opposed) and would require any candidate for president or vice president seeking to be put on the ballot in Connecticut to publicly disclose his or her federal tax returns for the three years immediately preceding the election.
“Several years ago, Connecticut Republicans introduced a disgraceful bill demanding that candidates for president submit ‘original copies’ of their birth certificate in order to run in Connecticut—a clear capitulation to the racist and xenophobic ‘birther’ lies that were being spread about President Obama,” Sen. Flexer said. “Now we are confronted with not a fake issue of presidential qualifications but a real issue of presidential qualifications and foreign influence in our elections: are you paying your taxes, who is paying your income, and do your public statements about your taxes and charitable donations square with your tax return? It’s a matter of public trust that has been a part of the public record in America for nearly half a century, from Republican and Democratic candidates alike. No one running for president of good moral character has anything to fear by sharing their income and tax information with the American public, especially those who talk about taxes most the time”
House Bill 6576, “AN ACT REQUIRING ADDITIONAL POLLING PLACES AT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION DURING STATE ELECTIONS,” also passed on a party-line vote (Republicans opposed) and would allow cities and towns that are home to colleges or universities with more than 3,000 students to open a separate polling location on that college campus in order to increase voter participation in elections. “I am privileged to represent students at UConn, ECSU and Quinebaug Valley Community College in the state Senate. At UConn alone there are more than 19,000 undergraduates, and for some of them, it’s more than a two-mile walk to the nearest polling location in Mansfield,” Sen. Flexer said. “Imagine if there was a polling place on campus, in the Homer Babbidge Library or the Student Union. For years I’ve been voting for legislation that makes it easier for people to take part in our democratic process, and this is one more way to develop a lifetime of good voting habits.”
House Bill 5589, “AN ACT CONCERNING CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM,” which passed on a unanimous and bipartisan basis, would ban so-called “dark money” contributions in political campaigns by requiring the disclosure of all contributors—even those who make donations to private political action committees (PACs). The bill also caps certain contributions and requires corporate directors to approve political donations and inform shareholders. The legislation is endorsed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
“Several years ago Connecticut passed comprehensive campaign reform, but to this day I am struck by the amount of political advertising—usually very negative—that seems to have no ownership attached to it,” Sen. Flexer said. “It’s disconcerting to me and to my constituents, and it is my hope that this bipartisan bill will help eradicate these awful practices.”
The bills now head to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration.