Citizens United: Connecticut’s response


The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case has rendered 24 states’ election laws unconstitutional. The 5-4 ruling in favor of Citizens United reversed a provision of the McCain-Feingold act that prohibited any electioneering communication—defined as advertising via broadcast, cable or satellite that is paid for by corporations or labor unions. Many states have acted fast to counter corporations’ ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections by passing laws that force disclosure of all independent expenditures in near real time. The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has decided to report what each of these states is doing to respond to the highly-contested ruling. Today we’re onto our seventh state,and the final to have already changed its election laws, Connecticut:

State: Connecticut
Bill:HB 5471
Passed: Yes

Unlike the Disclose Act, the federal response to Citizens United being worked on in Congress, Connecticut will force all nonprofits to reveal their top five contributors if they wish to do any electioneering. Currently, Minnesota is the only other state to require this.
The Connecticut law requires any independent expenditure made within 29 days of an election to be disclosed within 24 hours.

The disclosure will require the name of the executive officer, address of the organization and a clear picture of the organization’s CEO or equivalent, which according to the Director of the Citizen’s Election Program in Connecticut, translates to the requirement of executive approval. Additionally, the disclosure report will state which candidate the ad was intended to support or oppose and the amount of the expenditure.

The reports will be filed online and made available to the public. Connecticut has designed an electronic filing system to streamline the reporting process for organizations and to  help get the information to public quicker. There are also plans to make a searchable database containing all the information put on the disclosure forms. The state passed the amendments to their campaign finance laws on June 8th, and all new provisions are in effect now.