One of the newer Wait, What? readers raised a question in the comment section of the blog this week. They took offense when one of the blog’s longest standing, and most respected readers, realsaramerica pointed out that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and the State Democrats diverted resources away from beating Republicans and, instead, used the money to try to defeat a slate of pro-public education Democrats… Democrats who had the support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Connecticut Working Families Party.
The new reader, derpdominguez, wrote:
So the great revelation of this campaign is that local Bridgeport politics is backwards and corrupt? Have you been living in this state for the past 40 years? Does it really have anything to do with the state party?
For those who don’t know about last year’s Democratic Primary in Bridgeport for the Board of Education, you can read the earlier Wait, What? posts or here is the abbreviated version;
As many readers know, it seems that every day thousands of Connecticut activists receive emails from top Democratic elected officials and the leadership of the Democratic State Central Committee asking for donations to help bolster the Democrat’s campaign fund.
Most of these emails ask existing or potential donors to “chip” in another $3 or $5.
The emails also inform recipients that ALL OF THE MONEY RAISED will go toward beating Republicans. In fact, one recent email pledged that the funds raised will, “help us beat the Tea Party Republicans and their multimillion-dollar super PACs.”
However, despite repeated requests for an explanation, neither the Democratic State Central Committee nor Governor Malloy’s political operatives will come clean about their inappropriate involvement in last fall’s Bridgeport Democratic Primary for seats on the Bridgeport Board of Education.
On one side was the pro-charter school, pro-corporate education reform slate that was selected and endorsed by Mayor Bill Finch and his allies on the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee. The endorsed slate was committed to keeping Paul Vallas, the internationally renowned public school privatization czar, on as the head of Bridgeport’s Schools.
On the other side was a slate of pro-education Democrats who were committed to pushing back the corporate education reform industry, dumping Vallas and re-focusing public investments in Bridgeport’s Public Schools.
The challenge slate also had the strong support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Working Families Party.
Although the Democratic Party has consistently claimed that all the money it raises is used to beat Republicans, in an unethical, inappropriate and underhanded move, the Chair of the Democratic State Central Committee, along with the help of Malloy’s campaign operatives, used more than $50,000 in Democratic State Central funds to directly bank-roll the anti-public education slate in Bridgeport against the pro-public education Democratic challenge slate.
The move by the Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee to use its funds to beat Democrats in a Democratic primary was unprecedented.
The day before the Bridgeport Democratic Primary, the Democratic State Central Committee transferred $20,000 to the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to pay for their get-out-the-vote effort and cover the costs incurred by Mayor Finch’s anti-public education slate. One of those expenses was a payment of $3,048.15 to a Portland, Maine direct mail company that produced and sent out a brochure for the anti-public education slate.
Meanwhile, in addition to transferring $20,000 in funds that were supposed to be used for beating Republicans, the Democratic State Central Committee sent its own check to that Portland, Maine company to cover additional direct mail brochures for the anti-public education slate. Those checks were for 9,471.44 (8/26/13), $3,911.21 (8/29/13) and $4,735.72 (9/10/13).
During the same period, the Democratic State Central also paid Malloy’s political consultants, Global Strategies Group, consulting fees of $7,500 and $5,000.
As an aside, Global Strategies Group was already being paid by “A Better Connecticut PAC” to support the anti-public education slate in the Bridgeport primary. “A Better Connecticut PAC,” which was set up by ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group that helped fund the record-breaking lobbying campaign behind Malloy’s education reform legislation. To date, Malloy’s political consultants have collected well in excess of $2.5 million from A Better Connecticut and other corporate education reform advocacy groups.
The real problem is that the Democratic State Central Committee has never come clean about why it spent in excess of $50,000 to beat Bridgeport’s pro-public education Democratic slate, nor have they explained how they managed to circumvent the party rules to use money raised to beat Republicans in a campaign to beat Democrats.
Thankfully, the Bridgeport anti-public education slate lost, Paul Vallas was forced to ride off into the west, and the candidates endorsed and supported by the Working Families Party and the Connecticut Education Association took control of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
So, in short… to the person who wrote, does my potential candidacy have anything to do with Bridgeport, Malloy, the corporate education reform industry and the Democratic state party?
The answer is a resounding …. Yes.