Martha Dean challenged present Attorney General and heir apparent to U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat on the Democratic ticket way back in 2002. She lost in part because the money cards were stacked against her by Blumenthal.
Weeks before the election, Dean discovered from a fellow attorney who wished to contribute to her campaign that he could not do so. The attorney supplied Dean with a copy of a contract between his firm and the state containing language that prevented him -- as well as all the lawyers in his firm and all their spouses and legal staff -- from voting with his dollars for Dean.
Dean said she was “stunned’ by the prohibition. She called Blumenthal’s office. The gang there confirmed that the provision, considered by some a violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, had been inserted for the first time by Mr. Blumenthal into state contracts with law firms in 1996. “Mr. Blumenthal,” Dean said “refused to release potential contributors from the ban.”
Eye gouging in what appears on the surface to be an upright campaign is nothing new for an attorney general who has not scrupled to make use of defective affidavits to seize the property of his prosecutorial victims.
Faced with a frontal attack on her civil and constitutional rights, Dean did what any self respecting lawyer would have done in similar circumstances. She sued for a redress of grievances, the portion of the constitution guaranteeing that right not yet having been subverted by the ambitious ear-biting Blumenthal.
"It has been crystal clear since Buckley v. Valeo,” Dean now says, “the landmark campaign finance case decided more than 30 years ago, that candidates have constitutionally-protected rights to raise and spend campaign funds. After throwing off the King of England, our founders believed that the ability of a candidate to mount an effective campaign to challenge entrenched, corrupt or disinterested officials was one of the most fundamental rights enjoyed by the people in the new democracy, and so they ensured that it was enshrined in our constitution, where no person – no matter how powerful – can subvert it.”
Filed in 2002, it has taken eight years for the suit – Dean vs. Blumenthal -- to reach the Supreme Court. It’s been a long eight years.
Attorney Robert Farr, Blumenthal’s 2006 Republican challenger, joined Dean’s suit after learning that Blumenthal’s contractual ban on contributions – the attorney general’s very own answer to “corrupt” campaign contributions -- prevented Farr’s own wife, a partner at one of the law firms under state contract, from contributing to her husband’s campaign.
Asserting it was not “clearly established” in 2002 that Dean and other candidates had a First Amendment right to raise campaign funds, an appellate court held that Blumenthal therefore was entitled to qualified immunity for his actions. Before and after 2002, the high court has asserted that fundraising falls under the protective umbrella of the First Amendment.
In a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed with the high court Dean is asking the Supreme Court to decide three points: whether candidates have a First Amendment right to raise campaign funds free from improper government interference; 2) whether Blumenthal’s ban was improper; and 3) whether Dean is entitled to damages. To be a valid exercise of his authority, Dean says, Blumenthal must show that his ban serves a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly tailored. "Mr. Blumenthal has no authority," Dean asserts, "to decide what is a compelling state interest or to go off on his own and write campaign finance laws into state contracts.”
Indeed, a rank whiff of contractual corruption was emitted from the attorney general’s own office when Blumenthal awarded a portion of a $900 million tobacco litigation contract to his former law partner and his law partner’s wife. The other two firms involved were the Waterbury firm that represented former Gov, John Rowland, Carmody & Torrance, and an anti trust firm in Philadelphia, Berger &Montague, apparently not politically connected to Blumenthal’s share the wealth pipeline.
Dean points out in her petition, “Since the alleged corruption involved in the tobacco contract awarded to his former partner and partner’s wife was not connected to a quid pro quo arrangement involving campaign contributions, Mr. Blumenthal’s ban cannot be said to have been designed to stop this type of gross impropriety.”
WDRC Dan Lovallo's interview with Martha Dean may be accessed here: http://www.talkofconnecticut.com/includes/news_items/12/832/marthadean.mp3