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Hartford - Tom Foley, the endorsed Republican candidate for governor, said Tuesday that he will use Connecticut's public financing program to fund his second gubernatorial campaign after spending millions of his own money on the 2010 election.
Recent changes in state election laws, such as new restrictions on donors, prompted his decision to participate in the Citizens Election Program, said Foley, a Greenwich businessman.
"The people who can contribute under the traditional system keeps shrinking," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm a critic of using taxpayer dollars to fund campaigns, but I don't think you can win otherwise. Your only choice now is to either do that or write your own check. I don't really think that's the best system either."
Foley mostly self-funded his $12.8 million campaign in 2010, spending more than $10 million of his own money. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy participated in the public financing system and narrowly defeated Foley, who was a newcomer to elective office.
With Foley's participation this time in the public campaign financing system, the wealthy candidate won't have a financial advantage over his competitors. But Foley said he doesn't expect that will be a problem, especially given his healthy name recognition in the state.
"That investment has been made and people know me and it doesn't need to be made again," he said, adding how he's seeking "a level playing field with an incumbent governor."
Foley filed two documents Monday with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said the panel's spokesman, Joshua Foley, who is unrelated to the candidate. One document indicates Tom Foley intends to abide by the program's spending limits, while the other is an application to receive the state-funded campaign grants.
The commission is expected to meet June 11 to consider Foley's application. Foley announced in May he had collected $254,102 in small contributions, more than the $250,000 needed to qualify for $1.25 million for the primary and $6 million for the general election. However, he said at the time that he hadn't yet decided whether to use the public financing system.
Malloy's application for public financing is also expected to be considered on June 11 by the commission.
Foley's two primary opponents, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield, are still collecting the contributions needed to qualify for the public financing. While McKinney is trying to raise the $250,000 in qualifying contributions on his own, Boughton has teamed up with a running mate, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti. They hope to combine their fundraising and qualify as a ticket. Lauretti, however, needs to collect 8,190 signatures of registered Republicans by June 10 to appear on the GOP primary ballot as a candidate for lieutenant governor. Campaign spokesman Heath Fahle said "good progress" was being made on the fundraising and petition drive.
Foley challenged the ability of a 2010 primary opponent, former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, to pool his resources with a lieutenant candidate, arguing that some people give the maximum $100 contribution to both candidates, essentially providing a $200 contribution. While Foley lost that argument before the Connecticut State Supreme Court four years ago, he said Tuesday that he still believes it should not be legal.
"If somebody can't raise $250,000 on their own and has to team up with somebody else to do it, doesn't that tell you something about their support," Foley asked.
Boughton he doesn't believe his decision to pool funds with another candidate is indicative of the level of support for his candidacy, especially since he also had to raise money for his mayoral election last year. He said the process of teaming up with someone else has already been affirmed by the state's highest court.
"That's the process and whether Tom Foley likes it or not, it's not really relevant," Boughton said.