The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected a bid by the state of Montana to revisit the Citizen’s United case.
In that 2010 landmark decision our Supreme Court declared that corporations had the same rights of free speech as natural persons and that these rights would be infringed if independent political expenditures — i,e., corporate funded ‘political advertising’ — was limited.
This was the birth of the Super PAC.
The Montana court subsequently found, as a matter of fact, that excessive private funding had corrupted elections in that state and therefore sought to limit excessive corporate spending that they found had led to the corruption despite the holding in Citizen’s United.
Nevertheless, the majority of the Supreme Court today dismissed the issues raised by the Montana court as having already been considered, albeit in the abstract, through the Citizen’s United case. Justice Breyer and three others dissented.
What do you think? Do you feel more inclined or less inclined to make small contributions to political campaigns in the wake of Citizen’s United? Do you trust the content of political ads less than in the past? Up to today, in this first presidential election cycle since Citizen’s United was decided, do you agree with Justice Kennedy, the author of the opinion, that unlimited political spending by corporations does not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption?
Please comment here or @oldmysticlaw on Twitter.
According to an Associated Press report issued yesterday, Susan Meredith a state arbitrator has reinstated 40 of the 103 state employees who lost their jobs in the wake of alleged disaster relief fraud following Tropical Storm Irene. D-SNAP — the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — provided food stamp and other relief to qualifying Connecticut residents. Qualification for the D-SNAP assistance depended on the income and assets of the applicants and on the amount and type of damage suffered.
The story was picked up by news services across the state but also caught considerable national attention.
According to the report which cited a statement by Sal Luciano, executive director of the Union local representing some 35 of the former employees, the arbitrator determined that the errors committed by these 40 employees warranted discipline but not dismissal. Accordingly they will be required to pay restitution and serve suspensions of varying lengths –so far between 15 to 60 working days. This leaves open the issue of back pay for periods of unemployment following the August 2011 storm that exceeded the newly imposed suspensions. More than 60 additional cases are still pending–among them cases characterized as the most egregious
According to a post by the Hartford Courant blogger, Christopher Keating, the level of mutual tension between members of the Malloy administration on the one hand and lawyer for 60 former workers, Rich Rochlin, have remained high.
With controversy raging in Michigan and elsewhere over the role of labor unions in the public sector, we are curious to know how our clients and neighbors in Connecticut and especially here in Mystic, Stonington, Groton, New London, and the rest of Southeastern Connecticut view the issues.
Does the fact that the fraud impacted publicly administered relief funds, mean that public employees found to have abused the program should be accountable –not just in criminal court — but to their employer as well? Would this create an unfair disparity between workers in the public and private sectors? Should the state seek review of the decisions in Superior Court? Please tell us what you think.
NAVIGATING THE CONNECTICUT HOME IMPROVEMENT ACT — A NEW CASE IS GOOD NEWS FOR SUBCONTRACTORS AND BAD NEWS FOR HOMEOWNERSPosted: June 5, 2012
A decision to be released this week by the Connecticut Appellate Court — Probuild East LLC vs Poffenberger — tells a cautionary tale of the perils and pitfalls of home improvement contracting for everyone involved in the process including owners, general contractors, and subcontractors.
The facts of the case were relatively simple: A homeowner hired a general contractor who failed to make sure the contract complied with the Connecticut Home Improvement Act — a statutory scheme designed to protect homeowners. Once the job — which included completed change orders — was finished, the general contractor was still owed $10,800.
Enter the plaintiff, a materials supplier who recorded a timely mechanic’s lien for $15,275 to cover materials for which he had not been paid by the general contractor. The plainiff bypassed the general contractor and instead sued the homeowner seeking foreclosure of the mechanic’s lien.
At trial, the homeowner who knew nothing of the subcontractor raised the defense that, based on flaws in the contract between the homeowner and the general contractor, the general contractor could not have collected the balance of money he was owed. Since the homeowner’s only contract was with the general contractor, it followed, he argued, the the Home Improvement Act also protected him from claims by subcontractors on the job.
The trial court rejected the owner’s defense and ordered a sale of the property to satisfy the subcontractor’s claim, or at least that portion of it that would otherwise have been owed to the general contractor.
On appeal, the Appellate Court agreed with the trial court holding that the general contractor’s failure to protect its own rights did not affect the right of the subcontractor to collect its debt as long as the homeowner had not paid for the job in full.
Here are the lessons:
FOR THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR – Take care that each and every contract you present to a homeowner complies with each and every requirement of the Home Improvement Act. If it does not, you may never be able to collect your money regardless of the quality of your work and regardless of any windfall this creates for the non-paying homeowner.
FOR THE HOMEOWNER – Pay attention to the job. Find out who your general contractor is bringing on board. Ask to see materials invoices and subcontracts. Demand lien wavers from subcontractors each time you make partial payments on the job. Remember that you may be forced to pay subcontractors with whom you had no direct dealings even if you couldn’t also be forced to pay the general contractor for the same services.
FOR THE SUBCONTRACTOR – Keep on top of collections making sure to document all dealings with the general contractor and follow the rules for filing mechanics liens when payment is late.
Especially in this difficult economy everyone is watching the bottom line closer than ever and anyone who chooses to do business on a handshake does so at his own peril. In the end — at least when the judicial system becomes involved in the process — he who exercises the greatest caution wins.