Thousands of Connecticut businesses would have to jump through new regulatory "campaign finance" hurdles—even if they’re not involved in politics—under an intrusive bill nearing a legislative committee vote.
The Government Administration and Elections Committee is likely to vote soon on HB 5528, which contains this new mandate and other unreasonable burdens on Connecticut corporations under the guise of campaign finance reform.
Specifically, HB 5528 requires all corporations to have their shareholders approve their "political activities budget" annually—and expenditures of $10,000 or more would then have to be approved by the board of directors.
Even “mom-and-pop” companies across the state that are organized as corporations would have to put the procedures in place.This is a problem.
It is also unclear whether such an intrusion into a corporation's constitutionally protected right to free speech under the First Amendment is even legal. The bill treats one type of entity different than others since the section applies only to corporations. Such disparate and unfair treatment in the area of free speech would likely be considered unconstitutional.
Forcing these companies to comply with these regulatory hurdles will not make Connecticut appealing as a place to do business. In fact, it would have quite the opposite effect. When our state is struggling to attract and retain companies, it is absolutely the wrong message to send.
HB 5528 would also require companies that do engage in political activity—such as supporting a campaign—to disclose all donors that contribute $1,000 or more each year. And if a business pays for any campaign communications through its general treasury, then it would have to disclose all donors to the treasury funds.
Proposals like HB 5528 are prime examples of why many companies consider Connecticut a difficult place in which to do business. Not only is this a needless intrusion of state government, it clearly sends anti-jobs, and anti-free-speech messages to Connecticut businesses.