No Campaign Money For Felons

There's likely to be a lot of support for state Sen. Ed Meyer's proposal to ban public officials convicted of corruption from using campaign funds through Connecticut's Citizens' Election Program.

Not many convicted officials will be in a politically favorable position to run again, of course. Nonetheless, a ban is in order for those few who might try to weasel their way back into public life. Why should an official who breaks faith with the public benefit from the public's largesse?

Mr. Meyer, a Guilford Democrat, was provoked by an erstwhile colleague's latest brush with the law.

In 2006, former state Sen. Ernest E. Newton of Bridgeport went to prison for almost five years after pleading guilty to federal bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion charges. The judge said he had "brazenly" abused his high state office for private gain.

Last year, Mr. Newton returned to Bridgeport and made plans to recapture his old seat. He actually won the Democratic Party's convention endorsement for the 23rd state Senate district (what was in the water?) and qualified for more than $80,000 in Citizens' Election Program money to run his primary election campaign β€” a contest he narrowly lost.

Last month Mr. Newton was again arrested, this time on several state felony charges. The warrant alleges that he falsified information given to the State Elections Enforcement Commission β€” which administers the Citizens' Election Program β€”to qualify for the $80,550 grant to run his primary campaign.

That's when an inflamed Mr. Meyer announced his plan to seek a ban on state election grants to those convicted of corruption. "Public officials who commit crimes against the state should lose their benefits from the state," said Mr. Meyer.

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney sympathizes with Mr. Meyer but says his proposed ban might be unconstitutional because all qualified candidates should be treated equally under the law.

But why should officials who "snooker" the system, to use Mr. Meyer's word, qualify for a heaping platter of public campaign cash? It doesn't seem just.

Surely it's worth a test.

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