Stench of corruption grows around Malloy

When running for re-election in 2014, Governor Dannel Malloy took a $6+ million public finance grant to pay for his campaign.  In exchange for the taxpayer funds, Malloy swore, under oath, that he would not solicit, accept or use other funds to pay for his campaign expenses.

But Malloy lied and solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists, state contractors and those who have benefited from his corporate welfare programs.  That money, which in the end totaled more than $5 million, was funneled through a special account within the Democratic Party.

Last week a plea bargain deal with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ended with Malloy’s political operatives paying a fine of $325,000 to the state, rather than the $6 million Malloy should have paid.

Not only were Connecticut citizens saddled with four more years of Dannel Malloy, but Connecticut taxpayers are out more than $5.7 million.

See: Malloy’s Connecticut – Ripping off Connecticut while keeping citizens in the dark and NEWS FLASH – Malloy + Dems slammed with record fine for campaign finance violations but slip off the hook

Meanwhile, it a separate situation, David Sirota, the nationally renowned investigative reporter has been covering Malloy’s actions as they relate to the attempt by CIGNA and Anthem to merge.  Both entities, but especially CIGNA have close political ties to Malloy and the Democratic incumbent has benefited from significant campaign donations from CIGNA and its executive team.

David Sirota is the senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.  Sirota’s investigation has led to the following stories in the International Business Times:

Each one deserves a complete read-through, but Wait, What? readers should pay special attention to those marked with ***

***Will Cigna And Anthem Merge? How Health Insurance Companies Pump Money Into Politics (6/1/16)

Connecticut Groups Call For Dan Malloy To Remove Insurance Regulator In Anthem-Cigna Merger (6/2/16)

***Connecticut Rejects Request For Records About Anthem-Cigna Merger (6/7/16)

Obamacare Architect Kathleen Sebelius Questions Proposed Healthcare Insurance Mergers (6/10/16)

Cigna-Anthem Deal: Democratic And Republican Lawmakers Demand Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy’s Regulator Be Removed From Controversial Merger Review (6/10/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Gov. Malloy Signs Secrecy Bill That Could Shield Insurance Information From Public Release (6/13/16)

Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Ethics Officials To Vote On Conflict-Of-Interest Controversy (6/14/16)

***Anthem And Cigna Boost Spending On Lobbying As Lawmakers Review Merger (6/16/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Officials Vote To Launch Ethics Review Of Gov. Dan Malloy’s Insurance Regulator (6/16/16)

Cigna-Anthem Merger: California Insurance Regulators Call On Justice Department To Block Insurance Mega-Merger (6/16/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Ethics Probe Spotlights Similar Conflict-of-Interest Charges From The 1990s (6/17/16)

Malloy and Wyman collect public employee political donations – then stab state employees in the back – go figure.

The wave of state employee layoffs that are taking place in Connecticut is a disturbing reminder about how Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman approach electoral politics.

Having promised their support for public services, public employees and collective bargaining, the two neo-liberal politicians had their hands out during their last campaign to collect literally millions of dollars in donations from public sector employees.

However, once safely ensconced back into office for a second term, the dynamic duo have proposed, promoted and implemented the deepest cuts in state history to public services, a hatchet job that includes a new strategy of laying off significant numbers state employees.

It has been thirteen years since Connecticut has seen a governor laying off large numbers of state employees.  That time, disgraced former Governor John Rowland’s disastrous and illegal 2003 purge of state employees ended up costing Connecticut taxpayers about $100 million in back pay and penalties.

As the Hartford Courant reported in January 2016, State Begins Paying $100M Tab For Rowland Layoffs, Including Estimated $15M to Law Firm,

“State officials will spend most of 2016 paying an estimated $100 million tab for last year’s settlement of a long-running federal lawsuit by unions over Gov. John G. Rowland’s 2003 layoff of more than 2,000 state workers. The taxpayer money has already started flowing.”

David Golub, the attorney representing state employee unions and the state employees impacted by that round of layoffs is collecting a tidy $15 million to 17 million in scarce public funds for winning the case.

Now Golub is the lawyer working to help the Connecticut Democratic Party derail an investigation by the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission into the $6 million plus slush fund that the Democratic Party used to – illegally – (allegedly) – support Malloy and Wyman’s  2014 re-election campaign.

At issue in the Malloy/Democratic Party case is the fact that in addition to collecting their $6.2 million public finance subsidy to pay for their re-election, the Malloy/Wyman political operation knowingly and intentionally coordinated and benefited from the activities of two other political committee accounts, each of which raised millions and millions of dollars.

One entity was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and other account, the one that appears to have violated Connecticut law, was run through the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Claiming to be “friends” of unions, public employees and public services, Malloy and Wyman played a role (it seems) in helping to raise money from public employee unions into the coffers of the two extra political committees.  Those union funds came directly from the pockets of public employees.

Now, of course, state employees and others who are paid with public funds are learning the true cost of putting their trust in charlatans and deceivers.

Connecticut Forward was the name of the Super-PAC that was set up by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to support Malloy’s 2014 campaign.  (Malloy is now Chairman of the Washington D.C. based group.)

As initially reported by Wait, What? in 2014 and then re-examined in an article published less than two months ago and entitled, Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again, Malloy’s political operation and that Super-PAC relied heavily on the generosity of the public employee unions.

When they were running for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were all smiles as they accepted the political endorsements from Connecticut’s state employee unions and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

When Malloy and Wyman wanted the unions to fork over money to help pay for their re-election campaign, union leaders stepped up big time.

Using hard-earned money collected from their members, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was set up to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.

During the same period, Malloy and Wyman’s political fortunes were further enhanced thanks to more than $160,000 in union donations to the special account that was set up by the Democratic State Central Committee and used to pay for Malloy’s direct mail program.  Those contributions included $10,000 from AFT, $10,000 from NEA, $5,850 from SEIU, $5,000 from AFSCME and $1,800 from CEIU.

Even the Working Families Party got into the act, moving $25,000 in union funds to the Connecticut Forward Super-PAC.

Now, seventeen months later, although Malloy and Wyman knew that difficult times were ahead and chose to remain silent, public services are being destroyed and state employees are being laid off.

And to those who would dismiss the underlying issue by claiming Malloy is simply taking the financial actions that are needed to balance the state budget, one need only remember that another major source of the campaign cash for the Malloy/Wyman re-election effort was the charter school industry and their pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher education reform allies.

In Malloy’s world of “shared sacrifice,” will proposing the deepest cuts in state history to public schools, Malloy has actually proposed adding to the $100 million a year that is already being handed over to the privately owned and operated charter schools, all while he remains committed to forcing Connecticut’s children to suffer under the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scam and then using the results of that flawed testing system to evaluated teachers.

Finally, while Malloy and Wyman make incredible cuts to public services, they remain committed to an agenda of coddling the rich and opposing any reasonable efforts to make the wealthy pay their fair share.

As Malloy and Wyman institute policies that push even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers, Connecticut is already in a situation in which the poor pay about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, yet the state’s wealthiest only pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

The legacy is becoming very clear.  Cut vital services, layoff public employees, make Connecticut’s regressive tax system even more unfair and continue to make a mockery of the promises and pledges of their  2014 re-election campaign.

Will Democrats Malloy, Wyman and the CT Dem Party disavow Ed Marcus’ disgusting attack on Sanders and all Democrats?

Former Connecticut Democratic State Chairman Ed Marcus is, among other things, a thug.

After serving for ten years in the Connecticut General Assembly, six of which I also worked as the Connecticut Democratic Party’s Political Director, I left Connecticut politics in 1993.

I ended my career in elective office and Democratic Party politics a number of reasons, the primary one being that I wanted to be an active, engaged and hands-on father for my newborn daughter.

However, in addition, I left because the Democratic State Central Committee selected Ed Marcus to be the Party’s Chairman.  Marcus ran on a platform claiming that he would fire me his first day in office due to my legislative work on behalf of a fairer and more progressive state tax structure that included a new state income tax.  He also condemned my “liberal” politics.  It was with a sense of honor that I cleaned out my office and left Democratic Headquarters the day Marcus became its leader.

Today, just like back then, Ed Marcus was utterly unable to recognize that the underlying principle of being a Democrat begins with the concept that a Democrat believes in democracy (a word that beings with a lower-case d).

Now, in a truly unbelievable and disturbing commentary piece in the CT Mirror entitled, Letting Sanders run as a Democrat was a big mistake by the DNC, the former head of the Connecticut Democratic Party proclaims that Bernie Sanders is not “Democrat” enough to run for President as a “Democrat.”

For those of us who were brought up to believe in the principles that motivated millions of Democrats to support and vote for elected officials who would make our towns, states, nation and our world better, safer and healthier places to live and raise a family, a world in which the most important elements of an egalitarian society would exist for ourselves and our children, Ed Marcus’ diatribe is nothing short of hate speech.

And thus it requires an immediate and uncompromising response from Connecticut’s “so-called” Democratic Leaders:

Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy

Connecticut Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman

Connecticut Democratic Chairman Nick Balletto Jr.

 The spotlight is on you!

Do you totally and completely disavow the repugnant and idiotic words of Ed Marcus.

This is not about whether one intends to vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, although Marcus makes an excellent case for why Democrats should be voting for a real change.

The is about the meaning of American democracy and being a Democrat;

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Democrats, here in Connecticut and across the nation, can read and comment on Marcus’ “commentary piece” at http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/02/29/sanders-a-democrat/.  It is also reposted below.

Democratic Leaders must immediately speak out against Ed Marcus and others who, if unchallenged, will destroy what is left of the historic Democratic Party.

Letting Sanders run as a Democrat was a big mistake by the DNC  (By Former Connecticut Democratic State Chairman Ed Marcus

Bernie Sanders.  A Democrat.  Really?

Sanders has run and been elected as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont; run for and been elected a Vermont Congressman; and run and been elected as a U.S. senator from Vermont. In none of those elections has he ever identified himself as a Democrat. He has run as either a socialist, or independent, but never as a Democrat.

So how is he able to run as a Democrat in 2016? I guess we would have to ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.  She is directly responsible for permitting Sanders, an avowed socialist, to run as a Democrat.  Did she think it would just be a good workout for Hillary, or did she not have the guts to say no?

I believe that it is the latter. What the Democratic National Committee has done to the Democratic Party by declaring Sanders eligible to run as a Democrat is to force Hillary to spend time, money, and energy that could have been devoted to the general election against a Republican.

Sanders is so far to the left that he could never be elected as President, despite his recent showing in the New Hampshire primary.  His values, and that of most of us who have been lifetime Democrats, are not the same.

It is easy to attract support from college kids who know nothing about the real world.  In Connecticut he’ll get help from people who see support for Sanders as a way of becoming a delegate to the National Convention, as well as from those who believe in distributing other people’s money to those who may not be as fortunate. We already do this by way of progressive taxation, but for some folks that isn’t good enough.

Sanders is an annoyance much in the way of a Jerry Brown in 1992, Ted Kennedy in 1980, and Bill Bradley in 2000. We do not need another George McGovern disaster for the Democratic Party which, particularly in this election would impact every resident of the United States.  If by some weird confluence of events we have Sanders as a candidate, ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz what she possibly could have been thinking.

I think back to the National Convention of 1968, at that time National Delegates were chosen by the delegates to the State Convention and the State Convention was basically controlled by the late John Bailey who was then both chairman of the State Democratic Party and chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Bailey did not want a primary since that would have been embarrassing to him and a sign of lack of leadership to the people in Washington, including Hubert Humphry who was the “establishment candidate.”

What happened was that Bailey, Catherine Quinn who was Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee, and myself, along with one or two other people whose names I can’t recall, met in the so-called “Green Room” at the Bushnell and decided that we would give the people who were supporting U. S. Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota (who ran against Humphry at the convention) 12 delegates. Among the delegates selected was Paul Newman, his wife Joanne Woodward, Arthur Miller, Irving Stolberg who later became Speaker of the House in the state General Assembly.  At that time I was the Senate Majority Leader.

I am not in any way implying that it was democracy at work, but it was leadership at work.  The bottom line is Connecticut did not have a divisive primary and although Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon, Bailey was able to hang on to his leadership positions both here and nationally.

Was that system better than the existing one? In all honesty I’m not certain, but I’m also not certain if the existing system works since so much of what occurs in a primary is based on who can get out the vote and who develops a following like the next Messiah, which is what has happened with Sanders.

Sanders raves and rants but basically his theme is generally the same: You would have a better life if it weren’t for the people on Wall Street that make millions and billions of dollars.  Part of that may be true, but this is America and we are a capitalist society and it’s a country where everyone has the opportunity to make it.  All you have to do is look at Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and others like them over the years who basically started with nothing and ended up as President.

Leadership is vital in heading a party both on a state level and national level. I believe that Debbie Wasserman Shultz has failed the Democratic Party and has put Hillary Clinton into a hotly contested primary season — that need not have happened if Wasserman had simply indicated that Sanders, an avowed socialist, who had never before registered as a Democrat, could not run as a Democrat.

In New Hampshire as well as several other states anyone can vote in a Democratic Primary. That is a bad idea and concept. After all it is not a general election and if anyone can vote they vote for in essence against candidates for different reasons. There are many Republicans and some Independents who have supported Sanders only because they know that Hillary is electable and Sander is not.  That type of voting pattern was clearly in play in New Hampshire. It should not be permitted. Cross over voting is not what a Democratic Primary is all about.

There’s no question in my mind that the Democratic Party needs a new chairperson who understands what leadership means, with the gumption and common sense to lead the party, not to permit a non-Democrat to run as a candidate in what after all are Democratic Party Primaries.

Edward Marcus is former chairman of the Democrat State Central Committee in Connecticut, former state Senate majority leader, and principal of Branford-based Marcus Law Firm

Malloy Campaign’s effort to obstruct justice faces court appearance on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In his effort to win re-election to a second term as Connecticut’s governor, Dannel Malloy certified that he would abide by Connecticut’s public financing program.  In return for raising $250,000 in contributions no greater than $100 per person, the State Elections Enforcement Commission provided Malloy’s campaign with $6.5 million in public funds.  As a requirement for taking those funds, Malloy swore, under oath, that he would not accept any other campaign donations.

However, in the course of the 2014 the campaign, and in conjunction with the Democratic State Central Committee, Malloy and his political operatives funneled more than $5.2 million dollars into a Democratic Party account.  That money was used, in part, to pay for a series of glossy mailings urging people to vote for Malloy.

Not only was the use of the campaign funds illegal, but the funds that were used were tainted by the fact that it included donations from state contractors and others who are prohibited, by law, from participating in a Connecticut gubernatorial campaign.

As Connecticut law requires, the State Elections Enforcement began an investigation into the allegation that Malloy violated the law through the illegal use of campaign funds.

But rather than come clean about their activities, or even fight the accusations on the merits, Malloy and the Democrats did what would have once been unthinkable in state that proudly had one of the nation’s premier public finance systems… they spent the past year stonewalling the investigation and obstructing justice.

Team Malloy even refused to abide by an official subpoena issued by the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission.

See: Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee – In plain English it’s called obstructing Justice (Wait, What? 8/3/2015)

In a couple of months, Dannel Malloy will take over as the chairman of the national Democratic Governors Association.  The move will put him into the national spotlight.

Yet considering the legal precipice Malloy is sitting on, that light will be murky, at best.

In an article entitled, Court Fight Heats Up Over Subpoena Of Democrats’ Emails About Malloy’s Campaign, Jon Lender recently provided an update on the situation.

The state Democratic party’s latest move in its fight against an investigation by state regulators generated a flare-up this week with the office of the attorney general, as the case has suddenly gained momentum toward a courtroom confrontation on Oct. 27.

Democratic State Central Committee’s lawyer  David Golub, filed a revised complaint saying that the SEEC “is prohibited from investigating or imposing sanctions on a state political party” in situations like this one — where Democrats say federal campaign-finance laws “pre-empt,” or supersede, Connecticut’s clean-election laws.

“The SEEC is the state agency empowered to hear and investigate complaints of violations of state election laws,” said Jepsen’s spokeswoman, Jacqueline Falkowski. “The General Assembly has vested the SEEC with broad investigatory powers, and the SEEC unquestionably can investigate a complaint of state election law violations.”

Superior Court Judge Anthony Robaina has set a court hearing for Oct. 27 in Hartford Superior Court in SEEC’s suit against the Democratic Party. The suit seeks to force the party’s state central committee to comply with a May 29 subpoena that the SEEC issued in its investigation of whether Democrats spent money illegally last year to support Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election with mass campaign mailings.

Wait, What? and the Hartford Courant have written multiple stories about the Malloy campaign’s tactics.

Just last week, Ken Dixon at the Connecticut Post added another detailed report about the issue.

In Political campaigns rake in cash despite ban, Dixon wrote;

Connecticut’s clean elections law prohibits those who do business with the state from contributing to the campaigns of politicians who could award or influence state contracts — including the governor and legislators.

But that hasn’t stopped the relentless flow of state contractor cash. It has merely diverted it.

[…]

Nearly 25 percent of the money collected in the Democrats’ federal account since January, 2013 has come from more than 460 builders, lobbyists, lawyers and others who are prohibited from contributing to statewide and/or General Assembly races, the investigation has shown.

Of the $4.8 million the Democrats’ federal PAC raised in those 32 months, $1.1 million of it came from businesses and individuals who are on a state list of 5,500 outlawed contributors, according to Federal Election Commission records.

And yet, just days before the election last year, the Democrats raided the fund for more than $318,000 to pay for mass mailings supporting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. This spending is the focus of a Republican complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Committee and a lawsuit filed by Democrats to stop the investigation. The case, in state Superior Court, is headed for trial October 27.

National election watchdogs say the use of the federal account is simply a backdoor system of pay-to-play.

“This is an old game,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at Washington-based Campaign Legal Center. “Strip away the legalese and this money comes from a party that intends to curry favor with public officials. Politicians are just as complicit. Contractors feel like they’re in a shakedown.”

[…]

Connecticut’s campaign-finance reforms were created after John G. Rowland, the disgraced former governor, was sent to prison for taking kickbacks from companies that won lucrative tax breaks and contracts.

Michael J. Brandi, executive director of the SEEC, noted it was 10 years ago this month that the bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2005 was signed into law.

“So far it’s been enormously successful and we’re committed to seeing it succeed for a long time into the future,” Brandi said in a statement. “But it’s also had a lot of challenges along the way, and this current lawsuit is another direct challenge to its survival.”

Under the rules of the Citizens Election Program, candidates for governor who want public funding must agree to limit their campaign spending to a set state grant after raising $250,000 in small contributions. Candidates who accept public financing and then take outside money face penalties ranging from fines and forfeiture of their grants to criminal prosecution.

Traditionally, state parties’ federal accounts were not used for state races at all, but only congressional and national campaigns. Democrats last year, however, facing a tough challenge from GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, decided to take the chance and transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars for Malloy’s end-game push.

Generous contributors

The Hearst investigation has found that among the big check signers are officials from HAKS Engineers, a major design firm that is banned from contributing to both statewide and General Assembly races. Executives at the New York and Connecticut-based company contributed at least $75,000 to the Democrats’ federal account, including $32,500 from Husam Ahmad, president and CEO, and his wife. HAKS had more than $8 million in state contracts in 2013 and 2014, according to state records.

The owners, employees and families at Viking Construction in Stamford, which has done major state-financed work throughout Southwestern Connecticut, and is also prohibited from donating to statewide and General Assembly campaigns, contributed $77,500 to the federal account. The firm is currently part of a consortium awaiting the go-ahead on a half-billion-dollar contract to rebuild the Stamford train station, led by the JHM Financial Group, whose president, John H. McClutchy Jr. of Darien, and his family, contributed $65,000 since 2013.

Officials from HAKS, Viking Construction and the JHM Group did not return multiple requests for comment. James A. Manafort Jr. president of Manafort Brothers Inc. of Plainville, declined comment on $14,000 in family contributions to the DSCC. The company had 91 state contracts, mostly with the Department of Transportation, in 2013-14, totaling $29.1 million.

The contractors’ contributions are legal. Individuals are allowed to give up to $10,000 a year to the federal account.

But, if any of the $318,000 transferred from the federal account was used to supplement Malloy’s $6.5-million public-financing grant, as Republicans allege and as the SEEC wants to investigate, the state Democrats could have violated the law.

Democrats say the mailing in question was a legal Get out the Vote (GOTV) flyer that happened to feature Malloy and required funding from the federal account. To stonewall the SEEC’s investigation, which would reveal tactics and strategy in their high-stakes campaign fundraising operation, the Democrats filed the lawsuit.

You can read the Connecticut Post’s entire story at Political campaigns rake in cash despite ban

When it comes to Governor Dannel Malloy, Connecticut voters are rightfully angry

From the Quinnipiac University Public Opinion Poll;

Connecticut voters disapprove 58 – 32 percent of the job Gov. Dannel Malloy is doing, his lowest approval rating ever and the lowest score for any governor in the nine states surveyed this year by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll. The governor gets 4-1 negative scores for the way he his handling taxes and the state budget.

“Gov. Dannel Malloy’s job approval rating has plummeted to 32 percent, close to the historic 24 percent low hit by disgraced former Gov. John Rowland in January 2004, and Gov. Malloy is not in the middle of a corruption scandal,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

“Only 36 percent of voters are satisfied with the way things are going in the state, one of the lowest scores since Quinnipiac University started asking this question in 1997.”

Three in four Connecticut voters disapprove of the way Malloy is handling the state budget.

When running for re-election last year, Dannel Malloy said that the state budget was balanced and that if he was re-elected he wouldn’t raise taxes, wouldn’t make cuts to vital services and wouldn’t need to demand concessions from state employees.

But after being sworn back into office this past January, Malloy raised taxes, cut vital services and has turned his back on Connecticut’s state employees.

Even after increasing taxes in the first year of his first term and the first year of his second term, when this present state budget cycle is over on June 30, 2017, Connecticut will be facing a two-year General Fund Budget Deficit of $1.6 Billion …  YES, A DEFICIT OF $1.6 BILLION … [A deficit of $927 million in FY 2018 and $831 million in FY 2019.]

And most importantly, this fiscal disaster should not come as a surprise to anyone;

Pelto: State budget deficit reveals a broken fiscal system (CT Mirror 7-14-2014)

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget (Wait, What? 6-3-2015)

 Political Footnote:

In just a few months, Governor Dannel Malloy will become Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).  In that capacity, Malloy is supposed to be spending the 2016 campaign year crisscrossing the nation building public support for the Democratic candidates who are running for governor.  But with a 32 percent approval rating, Malloy may very well have the lowest public support of any Democratic governor in the nation.  By comparison, Governor Gerry Brown of California has a 55 percent approval rating from his state’s voters.  The DGA might do well to reconsider who they want to carry their banner in next year’s election.

 

Malloy playing key role in the effort to unseat Pedro Segarra and install Luke Bronin as Hartford’s Mayor

With “challenger” Luke Bronin’s campaign on track to become the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, the Hartford Democratic primary has become much more than simply a battle between the two opposing candidates – Mayor Pedro Segarra and political newcomer Luke Bronin.

Of the many interesting factors impacting next week’s Democratic Primary for Mayor in Hartford is the role Governor Dannel Malloy is playing on behalf of his former aide, Luke Bronin.

In addition to anti-Segarra comments Governor Malloy’s spokesperson has made about Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, a review of Luke Bronin’s campaign finance reports reveal that while Bronin has raised considerable amounts of money from out-of-state and from his hometown of Greenwich, Bronin’s massive financial advantage is due, in no small part, from the money Bronin has raised from Malloy’s gubernatorial staff, former members of Malloy’s campaign staff, Malloy’s political appointees and Malloy’s campaign contributors.

From a national perspective, the connection between Malloy and Bronin’s successful campaign fundraising is particularly noteworthy since Pedro Segarra is the only Puerto Rican mayor of a large city in the continental United States.

In addition to his duties here in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy will become the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) in just a few months.   In that role Malloy’s duty will be to raise money for the various Democratic candidates running for governor in 2016, while helping to get out the vote on behalf of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Malloy has already been to New Hampshire to campaign for Hilary Clinton.

Considering the incredible importance of Hispanic and Latino voters across the nation, Malloy’s involvement in helping to take down a major Latino leader will certainly not go unnoticed.

While Malloy claims to be neutral in the Hartford mayor’s race, the list of Bronin’s donors speaks volumes about the connection Malloy and his campaign operatives have been playing in the Hartford race thus far.

The latest campaign finance reports from Hartford’s mayoral candidates are due today, but as of the July 1, 2015 report, Luke Bronin had raised $611,000.

Bronin’s donors list includes many individuals who presently work in Governor Malloy’s Office or worked on Malloy’s campaign, including Malloy’s former chief of staff, his former campaign manager, his former campaign treasurer, and other who presently work for Malloy or were paid employees during the 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns.

Bronin’s campaign donor list is also flush with more than 50 of Malloy political appointees, including many who are collecting six figure incomes after getting appointed to state jobs by Malloy over the past few years.  The list includes present and former state commissioners and deputy commissioners, executive assistants and appointees to various boards and commissions including the Parole Board, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and the Board of Regents.

Perhaps most telling of all is the extraordinary and unprecedented amount of donations that Luke Bronin has received from state lobbyists.

As of the last campaign report, at least 33 state lobbyists, along with a number of their spouses had given to Luke Bronin’s campaign.  The list includes many of the most influential names in the lobbying business.

While a handful of lobbyist donations to incumbent mayors and first selectman are not uncommon, the outpouring of campaign donations to Bronin, a mayoral challenger is unprecedented.

As the Hartford Courant reported in a story about the money influencing the Hartford Mayoral race last weekend,

“Nine of the lobbyist donors belong to the prominent lobbying firm Gaffney, Bennett & Associates, which held a fundraising cocktail reception at its New Britain offices in March. Employees there have contributed $2,575 to Bronin, according to campaign filings.”  Bronin’s donors from the firm include John Rowland’s former campaign manager and Chris Dodd’s closest advisor.

When asked by the Hartford Courant whose idea it was to hold the fundraiser for Bronin, Gaffney Bennett’s managing partner, Jay Malcynsky, responded, “I can’t remember, to be honest, what the circumstances were.”

Luke Bronin has also cashed in with those many of Malloy’s previous donors, especially those who have state contracts.

For example, The Konover Company, a real estate management firm that profits from state contracts poured at least $71,000 into Malloy’s 2014 campaign effort via the Democratic Party’s “Federal Account.”  Those same individuals are among Luke Bronin’s largest campaign contributors.

Another prime example of the Malloy/Bronin reach is the fact that Bronin has collected $4,000 from Anthony Gaglio, Anthony Gaglio Jr. and their spouses.

The Gaglios own Viking Construction Inc. a company that donated $63,500 to Malloy via what the Harford Courant called, “a controversial state Democratic Party federal account that supported Malloy’s re-election.”

Reporting on Viking Construction’s donations to Luke Bronin, the Hartford Courant explained,

“Calls to Viking were not returned Thursday or Friday. Viking, a major player in residential construction, was general contractor for an affordable housing development recently built in Darien in cooperation with Malloy and state economic development officials.

Bronin, responding to a question about the Gaglios’ contributions, said in an email Friday, “I was introduced to them by a supporter, and after sharing my vision for a vibrant Hartford, I was pleased to get their support.”

As previously reported here at Wait, What? another significant pool of money for Bronin’s effort to defeat Hartford’s incumbent mayor comes from Connecticut’s largest law firms, most of which also have lucrative state contracts.

Among the large law firms that have provided Bronin with campaign donations are Pullman & Comely; Updike, Kelly & Spellacy; Shipman & Goodwin; Murtha, Cullina; Day, Pitney and Robinson & Cole.

These same firms were instrumental in funding Malloy’s Democratic Party campaign slush fund with about $45,000 coming from Pullman & Comely, $30,000 from Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, $11,000 from Shipman & Goodwin, along with sizable donations from Day Pitney; Robinson & Cole and others.

Interestingly, Bronin’s campaign finance reports also show that he has also been able to cash in with the Democratic Party’s elite West Hartford donors, including $2,000 from West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor and her husband and thousands more from other long-time West Hartford Democratic donors.

Of course, in addition to the campaign finance connection with Governor Dannel Malloy is Luke Bronin’s decision to hire Malloy’s former spokesperson, Andrew Doba, as his own Communications Director and his use of a number of campaign consultants that worked for Malloy’s campaign.

It is far too early to determine the political fallout from the Hartford mayor’s race, but as Latino and Hispanic leaders at the national level, and across the country, prepare for the 2016 campaign cycle, Governor Malloy’s efforts here in Connecticut to help unseat a major Latino leader will undoubtedly remain an issue of concern for the Democratic Party.

You can read more about Luke Bronin’s campaign donations and these issues at:

Connecticut State Contractors pouring money into Luke Bronin campaign

Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry lining up for Luke Bronin

Luke Bronin breaking the law with illegal corporate in-kind contributions

More and More and More out-of-state campaign money pours into Hartford for Bronin

Ridiculing Latino Leaders says volumes about Luke Bronin’s Campaign for Mayor of Hartford

AFT, NEA and the Corporate Education Reform oriented DGA

Perhaps we should simply call it a symptom of the corporatization of the modern American labor movement.

Or perhaps we call it a product of the centrifuge that is sucking mainstream American politics into the control of the corporate elite.

But whatever we call it, the premature decision by the American Federation of Teachers to endorse Hillary Clinton for President is yet another example of how the unions representing teachers have been gravitating toward backing those who are perceived to be more acceptable to corporate interests, display a track record of supporting policies that are less than supportive of teachers and the nation’s public schools and/or are defined as the “only” choice because the Republican alternative would be “even worse.”

Truth be told, the issue isn’t even really about Hillary Clinton.  As the presidential nominating process moves forward Hillary Clinton may very well be the “best” choice for the Democrats and the electorate, but the AFT leadership’s decision to endorse her now is an stark indicator of just how far the teacher unions have gone to become part of the get-a-long, go-along status quo.

Rather than requiring that any candidate seeking political support from teachers have a solid progressive record on public education and articulate clear-cut policies and positions that are diametrically opposed to the corporate education reform industry, there is a growing acceptance of candidates who have thrown their support behind the charter school industry and the broader education reform agenda.

Above all else, one thing is certain and that is that the American Federation of Teachers, and for that matter, the National Education Association, has consistently backed Democratic candidates whose records and positions are closely aligned with the so-called “education reformers.”

No where is that clearer than with the massive financial support that the AFT and NEA have given to the Democratic Governors Association, despite the DGA’s outspoken and on-going support for President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s education reform agenda, the Common Core, the associated Common Core testing scheme and the inappropriate requirement that standardized test scores be used as part of the teacher evaluation process.

Over the past five election cycles, the American Federation of Teachers has handed the Democratic Governors Association more than $5.5 million in money that was earned by America’s teachers and given to their union with the intention that the funds would be used to support candidates and promote policies that support teachers and enhance public schools.  The National Education Association has donated $4.8 million more.

But despite teacher unions giving more than $10 million dollars to the DGA over the past decade, the organization whose role it is to elect Democratic governors has remained committed to an education reform agenda that is actively and intentionally undermining teachers, the teaching profession and the nation’s public education system.

Just last summer, as opposition to the Common Core and its associated unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme grew, along with the resulting opt-out movement, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who was Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association at the time, dismissed the legitimate concerns that were being raised as nothing more than the work of right-wing nuts.

As reported in an AP story in June 2014, Democrat Shumlin dismissed the opponents of the Common Core as “crazy” conservatives adding, “The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems.”

But of course, opposition to the corporate education reform agenda is not a “right-wing issue,” nor is the push back against the heavy-handed and faulty implementation of the Common Core and the Common Core testing scam.

In fact, it is real world it is a broad spectrum of liberal, moderate and conservative parents, teachers and public school advocates who are leading the effort, all across the United States, to turn back the corporate funded public school privatization and education reform effort.

Although the NEA and AFT were two of the DGA’s four largest donors during recent 2014 election cycle, one would think the DGA went out of its way to remind teachers that while their money was useful, their opinions were not.

Not only did the DGA spend more than $3.8 million to promote the re-election of corporate education reform aficionado Democrat Dannel Malloy to serve a second term as  Connecticut’s governor, but the members of the DGA went on to elect Malloy to serve as the next Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Malloy, who in 2012 became the first sitting Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts is such an eager charter school advocate that he threatened Connecticut’s Democratic controlled General Assembly that at the same time he was proposing to cut funding for public schools, he would not sign any budget bill that did not expand the number of charter schools in the Constitution State.

And the Democrats in the legislature acquiesced to Malloy’s threats.

Malloy also vetoed a bill, passed with bi-partisan support, to require that anyone who serves as Connecticut’s commissioner of education must have appropriate classroom teaching experience.  Malloy whined that requiring the state’s education commissioner to have education experience would cramp his appointment decisions.

Although Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy rivals New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo when it comes to anti-teacher rhetoric and policies, the harsh reality is that Malloy is nothing more than a continuation of the DGA’s effort to support Democratic governors who are wedded to the corporate education reform agenda.

Teachers, students, parents and public school advocates deserve better from the Democrats and from the unions representing teachers, the very same unions that are pouring millions of dollars into the Democratic Party.