Connecticut lawmakers split on bill banning felons from public office

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BRIDGEPORT — The two chairmen of a key committee of the legislature differ over a proposal that would ban politicians convicted of felonies from the ballot.

The Connecticut Post reports state Senator Eric Coleman, Senate chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said voters are the best judge of who qualifies for public office.

Rep. William Tong, the committee’s House chairman, says public officials should not “have the opportunity to betray us again.” He says qualifications already impose limits on public office.

Tong told Fox CT that he expects there to be a public hearing towards the end of the month. He also seemed confident about the measure: “I get the sense that there’s good support” for the bill, he said, and he added that his colleagues in the legislature are committed to sending a message about the consequences of corruption.

Former Gov. John G. Rowland and ex-state Sen. Ernest E. Newton II of Bridgeport were both sentenced recently over campaign scandals. Each was convicted twice.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch promotes the ban. He says sex offenders shouldn’t work in day care centers and corrupt politicians shouldn’t be in government.