The Students for Campaign Finance Reform are hoping to encourage students to become involved in an important issue in Connecticut politics.
Their organization has been actively lobbying state legislators to change the current system of private funding for election campaigns. They are hoping to get the Quinnipiac community involved.
The SCFR was founded early last year when Governor Rowland threatened to veto a campaign finance reform bill that had been passed by the state legislature. Wesleyan University student Benjamin Wyatt felt a need to act and organized a demonstration at the state capital. Since then, the SCFR has branched out onto other campuses, lobbied lawmakers, and even testified before a congressional committee.
On Nov. 29 Wyatt and Wesleyan freshman David Carhart visited the campus for an information session. They want students to understand that although this issue may not seem as imperative as highly visible issues such as crime and poverty, it ultimately reflects on all legislation. Students themselves can be adversely affected. For instance, when legislators, whose campaigns have been financed by banking lobbyists, decide the interest rates for student loans.
The SCFR endorses a system of public financing for political campaigns. Candidates would initially have to prove that they have a minimum amount of public support by gathering small individual contributions before they would qualify for state funding. Candidates might also qualify for funds to match those of a competitor who chooses to be privately funded. This would replace the current system, which discourages minority candidates, and it would encourage greater competition to hopefully establish a more diverse electorate.
The campaign money would come from the state and might be raised by a voluntary tax check box like the one currently in place for presidential elections.
Similar systems have already been established in Maine, Arizona, Vermont and Massachusetts. It is estimated that the total cost would be a fraction of a percent of the state budget.
On Dec. 8 the SCFR will be hosting a statewide conference for campaign finance reform at Wesleyan University.
For more information about the SCFR and upcoming events visit their web site at www.wesleyan.edu/wsa/scfr.