Court Tosses Part of State Campaign Funding Law


A federal appeals court has thrown out part of Connecticut's controversial public campaign financing law, a complex ruling that could have an immediate effect on the 2010 campaigns.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling, which found the law unconstitutional in part because it discriminated against minor party candidates.

The appeals court ruled on Tuesday that minor party candidates should be required to meet a higher threshold for fundraising in order to qualify for public funds.

It also struck down a ban on donations by lobbyists, but upheld a ban on contributions by state contractors.

The appeals court agreed the state should not be required to give extra public funding to a candidate running against a wealthy, privately funded opponent, saying that would infringe on the wealthy candidate's free speech rights.

The ruling cames the same day a judge determined that gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and his running mate, Mark Boughton, are eligible for public financing. 

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said a U.S. District Court judge will determine whether the campaign funding law decision renders the campaign financing law unconstitutional. 

Blumenthal said publicly financed campaigns can continue to operate pending the judge's ruling without previous prohibitions against lobbyist contributions. Public finance payments already made to candidates remain valid and may be retained and spent, Blumenthal said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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