Campaign Contribution Challenge Nixed as Moot

     (CN) – The 2nd Circuit dismissed a lawsuit challenging a former Connecticut policy barring private attorneys hired by the state from donating to the campaigns of candidates for state attorney general.

     The federal appeals court in New York dismissed the challenge as moot, because the policy hasn’t been enforced since 2002 and was deleted in 2006.
     From 1995 to 2002, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal included and enforced the campaign contribution ban in state contracts with outside counsel. He said he included the provision to avoid the appearance that private firms were being awarded state contracts in exchange for future campaign contributions.
     Republican candidate Martha Dean challenged the policy in 2002, claiming it deprived her of “needed financing for her campaign as a result of willing contributors withholding contributions for fear of suffering the loss of the State’s business.”
     That year, Dean was running against Blumenthal, who’d held the office of attorney general for 12 years.
     About a week before the election, Blumenthal suspended the ban on campaign contributions pending a court ruling on the dispute. While the case was being litigated, the Connecticut General Assembly passed campaign finance legislation in 2005 that supplanted the contractual provision.
     Blumenthal notified all firms that the contractual bar on campaign donations would be “wholly and permanently superseded” by the statutory ban, effective Dec. 31, 2006.
     In September 2006, the district court granted Blumenthal’s motion to dismiss.
     The 2nd Circuit agreed, saying most of Dean’s claims are now moot. “Dean’s complaint principally seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and a cease-and-desist order regarding an ‘office policy’ that (it is undisputed) no longer exists,” the court wrote.
     It rejected her claim that Blumenthal could revive the policy at any moment, noting that the attorney general stopped enforcing the provision six years ago and deleted the ban more than two years ago.
     The appellate panel also affirmed the finding that Blumenthal is shielded from Dean’s claim for damages, because the First Amendment right to receive campaign contributions wasn’t established when the ban was in place.

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