Photo of Senator Flexer.

State Senator

Mae Flexer

Representing Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson & Windham

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Lawmakers Vow to Protect Citizen’s Election Program

State Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson), State Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven), State Representative Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) and a coalition of Democratic lawmakers and activists Tuesday pledged to protect the state’s Citizen’s Elections Program (CEP), which Republicans axed in their budget proposal for the next biennium.

The program, under which Flexer, Winfield and Lesser were able to run for office, was created in 2005 in the wake of Republican Governor John Rowland’s arrest on corruption charges. The program enables candidates to gather small campaign contributions of between $5 and $100 in order to qualify for a larger grant. The program was designed lessen the impact of dark money and limit the impact of large, single donors.

“The Citizen’s Election Program has changed the way the Connecticut General Assembly functions and has made it possible for candidates with good ideas to run to represent their communities without being connected to big money or special interests. It absolutely must be defended,” said Sen. Flexer. “There are dozens, if not hundreds, of bills that have been passed since this program was put into place that would never have passed under the old system when lobbyists and special interests had the influence to kill good legislation. Getting rid of the CEP would be a huge step backward for our state.”

“This opened up politics to people who didn’t have access before the CEP, both the candidates running for office and for people in the community who now have more of an influence in those elections.” Sen. Winfield said. “What we’re defending here today is not ourselves, but the ability of others to enter, to access, and to participate in this system.”

“We sometimes have amnesia in this building because not too long ago Connecticut had a deplorable reputation across the country for a culture of corruption. They called the state ‘Corrupt-i-cut.’ Politicians of both parties—legislators, mayors and a governor—went to prison and on a bipartisan basis Democrats and Republicans in this building decided that money and politics was the chief source of corruption and enacted the Citizens Election Program, not funded by taxpayer dollars but by small contributions to reduce the influence of money on politics. And it’s been a fantastic success,” Rep. Lesser said.

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