New Haven Democracy Fund
The New Haven Democracy Fund, utilizing appropriations from the Board of Aldermen and citizens’ contributions, provides public matching funds and public financing grants to Mayoral candidates who voluntarily agree to abide by certain restrictions and limitations on how campaign funds are raised and spent.
The Democracy Fund is a pilot program approved in 2007 by the State Elections Enforcement Commission of the State of Connecticut. The State General Assembly had authorized the Commission to approve up to three pilot programs for public financing of municipal election. The City of New Haven is the first and only municipality in the State to establish a public financing system for municipal elections.
The purpose of the Democracy Fund is to ensure that all citizens of the City of New Haven have a fair and meaningful opportunity to participate in the election of their Mayor. Specifically, the ordinance aims to counter the perception that New Haven’s public policy is influenced by campaign contributions; to ensure that meritorious Mayoral candidates are able to raise and spend sufficient funds through public financing of elections to convey their messages to the voters; to reduce the need for ongoing fundraising and to encourage Mayoral candidacies to spend more time communicating with citizens; and to give all citizens an opportunity for a reasonable supporting role in the selection of Mayor by making even small contributions meaningful.
The Democracy Fund is overseen by a seven-member volunteer board. A Democracy Fund Administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Democracy Fund. A Democracy Fund Investigator is responsible for investigating alleged violations of the Democracy Fund ordinance and complaints made against participating candidates.
A Mayoral candidate becomes a participating candidate by agreeing to abide by the contribution and expenditure limitations and ceilings established by the Democracy Fund ordinance. Contributions are limited to no more than $370.00 from individuals or a town committee. A participating candidate must not accept contributions from political committees or business entities. Qualified campaign expenditures are limited to no more than $368,000.00 in a primary election and $368,000.00 in a general election.
The Democracy Fund provides public matching funds up to $125,000.00 and a public financing grant of $19,000.00 for both the primary elections and the general election. A candidate’s contribution of his or her own personal funds is limited to no more than $19,000.00 per primary or general election.
In order to qualify for public matching funds for a primary election or a general election, a participating candidate must raise two hundred (200) contributions, from separate individuals who are electors (that is, registered voters) of the City of New Haven, of no less than $10.00 and no more than $370.00. Matching funds consist of $50.00 per distinct individual contributor of $25.00 or more; contributions under $25.00 are matched two-to-one.
The Democracy Fund Board has the authority to levy fines for violation of the Democracy Fund Ordinance by participating candidates.
The New Haven Democracy Fund has given out these amounts to candidates:
2007 - Participating candidate John DeStefano's campaign received $11,850 in matching funds. DeStefano won re-election in 2007.
2009 - Participating candidate John DeStefano's campaign received $11,390 in matching funds.
DeStefano won re-election in 2009.
2011 - Participating candidate Jeffrey Kerekes' campaign received $8,202 in matching funds and a $17,000 grant for the September primary, where he placed second to Mayor DeStefano.
2011 - Participating candidate Tony Dawson’s 2011 campaign collected a $17,000 grant and $6,420 in matching funds. He placed fourth in the 2011 primary.
2013 - Participating candidate Justin Elicker's campaign received $9,840 in matching funds April 5, 2013. He received the $19,000 contested election grant Friday, April 19, 2013, and another matching funds check of $8,600 was ready for distribution on Friday, April 26, 2013.
Participating candidate Gary Holder-Winfield qualified for $7,170 in matching funds on Monday, May 13, 2013, and at the same time, earned the $19,000 contested election grant. The GHW2013 campaign's check for $26,170 will be available for distribution on Friday, May 17, 2013.
As of May 17, 2013, the Democracy Fund will have contributed $63,610.00 in public funds to participating candidates in the 2013 New Haven Democratic mayoral primary. This is the most the Fund has ever contributed to any single election in its history.
Summary of Fund
I. Eligibility for Matching Funds and $19,000 Public Financing Grant
- Establish campaign committee, meet requirements to appear on ballot, and run in a contested election
- At any time before the 60th day before an election, the Mayoral candidate must submit a signed Candidate Contract and Affidavit to the Democracy Fund Board:
- Agreement to campaign contribution and expenditure limitations.
- Raise the threshold of qualifying contributions: contributions of between $10 and $370 from 200 distinct New Haven registered voters
- Not be in default to the city of New Haven
- Agree to participate in at least one public forum per election
- Limit use of personal funds to no more than $19,000
III. Expenditure and Contribution Ceilings and Restrictions for Primary or General Election
- Up to$370 from individual or party committee
- No PAC
- No “business entities”
$50 per New Haven registered voter who gives $25 or more. Contributions less than $25 are matched two-to-one. Matching funds per candidate per election: $125,000.
If a candidate not participating in matching funds program spends more than the expenditure ceiling of $368,000, then participating candidates who have reached 85% of the expenditure ceiling can either (1) have an additional $25,000 grant, or (2) have their expenditure ceiling lifted. A candidate who chooses to have his or her expenditure limit lifted may raise contributions in excess of $370 from individuals and party committees, but must continue not to accept contributions from political committees and business entities, and will receive no additional matching funds after spending $368,000.
2013 Participating Candidates
NEW HAVEN DEMOCRACY FUND BOARD
Members of the New Haven Democracy Fund Board can be found here.
Democracy Fund in the News
- Public Campaign Financing Debate Heats Up, Yale Daily News, April 24, 2013
- Democracy Fund Declares 2013 Primary a Contested Election, New Haven Register, April 11, 2013
- Democracy Fund's Future in Doubt, Yale Daily News, April 5, 2013
- Fund Struggles to Define Role in City, Yale Daily News, April 4, 2013
- In Pivotal Year, Democracy Fund Fights Pay to Play Politics, Yale Daily News, April 3, 2013
- Financing a Mayoral Race, Yale Daily News, April 2, 2013
- 3 New Haven mayoral candidates pledge participation in public campaign funding, New Haven Register, March 29, 2013
- Hausladen Pushes for More Democracy (Dough), New Haven Independent, March 6, 2013
- Democracy Fund Presents Plan to Aldermen, Yale Daily News, March 5, 2013
- New Haven Mayoral Candidates Look to Public Funds, WSHU.ORG, January 31, 2013
- Elicker Confronts Clean-Elections Loophole, New Haven Independent, December 24, 2012
- Embattled Democracy Fund Hires A Tiger, New Haven Independent, June 25, 2012
- Aldermanic Briefing for March 4, 2013
2013 MEETING DATES
February 11, 2013 Agenda - CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW
March 4, 2013 Agenda
April 18, 2013Agenda
May 16, 2013 - CANCELLED
June 20, 2013
July 18, 2013
August 15, 2013
September 19, 2013
October 17, 2013
November 21, 2013
December 19, 2013
Democracy Fund bylaws, Article IV, Section 1, indicate that "Regular Meetings shall be held on the Third Thursday of each month or as indicated on the schedule of regular meetings filed annually with the City Clerk prior to January 31st of each year." Previously, the Fund held meetings on the third Monday of the month, in Mayor's Conference Room 2 in City Hall. When the Fund Board reconvenes, it will set a schedule for 2013.
Minutes, Agendas & Documents From Previous Years
Interim Campaign Reports
The campaign reports filed by mayoral candidate committees participating in the New Haven Democracy Fund program are now available not only on paper at the clerk's office, but also online at the State Elections Enforcement Commission's electronic Campaign Report Information System (eCRIS) site. However, in each election the Democracy Fund program requires one more report than the state, which will be available only here. For the primary, the interim report covers the month of July; for the general election, the interim report covers the months of July and August.
Primary 2011 Interim Reports
For further information, please contact the Democracy Fund Administrator, Kenneth Krayeske, at email@example.com or 860-995-5842.
Forms should be filed with the Administrator via email, fax (203-235-9600), or mail at 364 Laurel Street, Hartford, CT 06105.