BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Mayor Joe Ganim on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) for ruling he can't receive a public campaign grant for his possible run for governor because he was a convicted felon.
The SEEC made the ruling in June, saying he was ineligible for a grant from the Citizens’ Elections Fund should he run. A 2013 amendment to the fund’s program bars those convicted of felonies related to their public office from receiving public financing.
In 2003, Ganim was convicted of racketeering, extortion, bribery and mail fraud during his first stint as mayor and he served seven years in prison.
“Today I have taken the unfortunate step of filing suit against the State Elections Enforcement Commission for the right to engage in fair competition should I run as a candidate for Governor of Connecticut,” Ganim said in a written statement. “If I run, I would want to participate in our landmark clean elections program and apply for a public campaign financing grant. This is designed to reduce the influence of special interest money in our electoral process and I support it 100 percent.”
Ganim said he believes the 2013 amendment imposes “an unforgiving lifetime ban” on the ability of certain individuals to apply for and be a part of the Connecticut’s clean public financing system.
“In doing so, the law creates an unfair and unnecessary barrier to public office and an unequal playing field for me and others similarly situated,” Ganim said. “In my view, this law is unconstitutional because it violates my right to free speech, equal political opportunity, and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
Ganim has asked the federal court for an expedited hearing because the decision is fundamental to whether or not he will run for governor.
“I regret that I have to take this action, but in doing so I do not seek special treatment,” he said. “I am only seeking fairness under the law, and clarity for all candidates and voters now and in the future.”
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