Campaign Finance, Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Joe Visconti, Malloy, Tom Foley Campaign Finance, Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Joe Visconti, Malloy, Tom Foley
Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has deposited his check for $6.2 million from the State’s Public Finance System.
As a result of Connecticut’s landmark 2005 campaign finance reform bill, in return for raising $250,000 in contributions of under $100, Malloy (and the Republican nominee for governor) have each received $6.2 million in public funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.
The original concept, which passed following the conviction of Governor John Rowland in 2005, was that in return for a multi-million dollar campaign donation from the public, candidates would agree to forgo private funds raised from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees, the wealthy and other special interest.
But that was before Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly torpedoed the most important elements of the law.
Now, in addition to the $6.2 million in public funds, Malloy and his political operatives have collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign into the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account, much of it from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy. The political maneuver was made possible thanks to a proposal Malloy and the Democrats pushed through in 2013.
In addition, a “separate” political action committee called Connecticut Forward, has already raised $2.5 million to run ads in support of Malloy and against his opponent, Tom Foley. To date, about $1.3 million of Connecticut Forward’s money has come from the Democratic Governors Association, $900,000 from the AFSCME union and $250,000 from the American Federation of Teachers. In the coming weeks, the Connecticut Forward PAC is expected to raise another $3-$5 million or more in their effort to promote Malloy’s campaign.
So how on earth did we go from having one of the “best” campaign finance reform laws in the nation to a campaign in which Malloy gets $6.2 million in public funds, while accessing another $10 million or more in campaign donations including money from state contractors and others who personally benefit from the governor’s policies.
While a portion of the blame rests with the unprecedented Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, in which companies were determined to be people for the purposes of campaign finance laws, Connecticut’s present campaign laws, along with their appearance of corruption, rests on the shoulders of Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Legislature.
A June 1, 2011 Wait, What? post entitled, “Oh…Remember When Democratic Leaders were for Campaign Finance Reform,” observed, “Democrats Complete the Task of Undermining the State’s Public Finance Law.” And yet the worst was still to come.
As background, back on January 27th, 2010, when then-candidate Dan Malloy spoke out after a Zogby public opinion survey found that 79 percent of Connecticut voters supported public financing and the Citizens’ Elections Program, Malloy said;
“In my view, this poll should serve as proof of just how strongly Connecticut voters feel about campaign finance reform, and as a warning for those candidates who think they can brush aside the Citizens’ Election Program…”
At the time, Malloy was echoing the sentiment of Democratic Party leaders.
Following the passage of Connecticut’s historic campaign finance law, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan wrote;
“Almost 230 years ago, the founding fathers took a huge risk when they signed the Declaration of Independence and set the wheels in motion for the world’s greatest democracy. Today, this historic campaign finance reform legislation reaffirms that this is a government for the people, not special interests. This campaign finance reform bill is our declaration of independence. We can look our constituents in the eye and say we created the strongest campaign laws in the United States.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams’ rhetoric was equally impressive, with an official biography that read,
“Since his election as Senate President, Senator Williams has been a leading advocate for cleaning up government. He authored legislation to reform the State Ethics Commission and supported sweeping changes to the campaign finance system and the state contracting process. With the creation of a publicly funded campaign finance system in 2005, Connecticut now has the strongest reform laws in the nation.”
But when candidate Dan Malloy became Governor Dannel Malloy, the official view and strategy when it came to campaign finance reform changed dramatically.
In Malloy’s first budget, the new governor took aim at the State Elections Enforcement Commission by reducing its funding, its autonomy and its authority.
At the time, State Senator Gayle Slossberg, the only Democrat to vote against Malloy’s plan, was quoted as saying, “I just think that the proposal in front of us undermines the independence and the integrity of the [State Election Enforcement Commission and the other] watchdog agencies,”
But Malloy’s effort to undermine Connecticut’s campaign finance law had just begun.
As the 2013 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to a close, Malloy and the Democrats passed legislation that allowed candidates to keep the public campaign finance funds while opening the flood gates to tainted campaign contributions.
The bill doubled the amount of money private donors could give to political parties, removed the cap on how much political parties could spend to support candidates participating in the public finance system and created a massive loophole by allowing candidates, in this case Malloy, to better coordinate their activities with political parties and other political action committees.
The anti-campaign finance reform bill did not get a single Republican vote in the State Senate or House of Representatives. On June 19, 2013 Malloy signed the legislation into law, which in turn, prompted former Governor Jodi Rell to observe;
“After a dark period in our state’s history, Connecticut became a role model for the nation with … our campaign finance reform. How sad that the Democrat governor, Democrat legislators and the Democrat Party are so greedy for campaign cash that they would willingly destroy what we so proudly enacted just a few short years ago.”
At the time, few fully appreciated how the legislation would change the political landscape, but you can read more about the Democrats successful effort to destroy Connecticut’s campaign finance law in the June 2013 CTNewsJunkie article entitled, “Malloy Signs Bill Changing Campaign Finance Reforms of 2005.”
Now, with just weeks to go in the 2014 gubernatorial election, laws have been changed to the point that instead of having $6.2 million, the Malloy campaign effort will probably spend in excess of $16 million to try and get a second term in office.
Of course, thanks in no small part to the same changes in the law, Tom Foley and the Republicans will be spending an equally obscene amount of money.
Finally, as Wait, What? readers know, the entire system is also rigged against third-party candidates. Meaning in this campaign finance war of mutually assured campaign destruction, they only candidate not double and triple dipping, while still using taxpayer funds is third party candidate Joe Visconti.
So let’s hear it! Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!
Bill Curry, Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Pelto Bill Curry, Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Pelto, Ralph Nader
I’m often asked why, considering I’m a life-long Democrat, I am “leaving” the Democratic Party and running as an independent for Governor. I start by explaining that as hard as it is to run as an independent, I thought the institutional barriers to winning a Democratic Primary were even greater.
But then I add that, to be blunt, I don’t believe I am “leaving” the Democratic Party, I believe the Democratic Party has left me and tens of thousands of other people who understand that many Democratic leaders have turned their backs on Democratic ideals, principles and constituencies in order to kowtow to the corporate elite.
Former Democratic State Senator, State Comptroller, and Democratic candidate for governor, Bill Curry has an extraordinarily powerful piece on Salon.com today about this very issue. While I’ve had my differences with Bill Curry through the years (probably more often my fault), he is one of the smartest, most astute, political observers on the scene today. In his latest piece for this national audience, Bill Curry writes;
My party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats
In 2006 the Atlantic magazine asked a panel of “eminent historians” to name the 100 most influential people in American history. Included alongside George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain and Elvis Presley was Ralph Nader, one of only three living Americans to make the list. It was airy company for Nader, but if you think about it, an easy call. Though a private citizen, Nader shepherded more bills through Congress than all but a handful of American presidents.
If that sounds like an outsize claim, try refuting it. His signature wins included landmark laws on auto, food, consumer product and workplace safety; clean air and water; freedom of information, and consumer, citizen, worker and shareholder rights.
In a century only Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson passed more major legislation. Nader’s also the only American ever to start a major social or political movement all by himself. The labor, civil rights and women’s movements all had multiple mothers and fathers, as did each generation’s peace and antiwar movements.
Not so the consumer movement, which started out as just one guy banging away at a typewriter. Soon he was a national icon, seen leaning into Senate microphones on TV or staring down the establishment from the covers of news magazines. What lifted Nader to such heights was the 1965 publication of “Unsafe at Any Speed,” an exposé of the auto industry’s sociopathic indifference to the health and safety of its customers. In little more than a year Congress put seat belts in every new car and created the forerunners of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Washington’s rapid response affirmed Nader’s belief that people provided with critical facts will demand change and that sooner than one might expect politicians, however listless or corrupt, will give it to them.
This faith in the power of ideas and of public opinion — in the educability of people and thus in the viability of democracy — distinguishes Nader from much of what remains of the American left.
Throughout the 1980s Nader watched as erstwhile Democratic allies vanished or fell into the welcoming arms of big business. By the mid-’90s the whole country was in a swoon over the new baby-faced titans of technology and global capital. If leading Democrats thought technology threatened anyone’s privacy or employment or that globalization threatened anyone’s wages, they kept it to themselves. In his contempt for oligarchs of any vintage and rejection of the economic and political democratization myths of the new technology Nader seemed an anachronism. His critics would later say Nader was desperate for attention.
For certain he was desperate to reengage the nation in a debate over the concentration of wealth and power; desperate enough by 1992 to run for president. His first race was a sort of novelty campaign — he ran in New Hampshire’s Democratic and Republican primaries “as a stand in for none of the above.” But the experience proved habit-forming and he got mottre serious as he went along. In 1996 and 2000 he ran as the nominee of the Green Party and in 2004 and 2008 as an independent.
The campaigns defined him for a new generation, but he never stopped writing. His latest book, “Unstoppable,” argues for the existence and utility of an “emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state.” The book is vintage Nader and ranks with his best. The questions it poses should greatly interest progressives.
The question is, will any read it. It’s a question because on top of all the hurdles facing even celebrity authors today, Nader is estranged from much of his natural readership. It goes back, of course, to his third race for president, the one that gave us George W. Bush, John Roberts, Sam Alito, the Iraq War and a colossal debt. Democrats blame Nader for all of it. Some say he not only cost Al Gore the 2000 election but did it on purpose. Nader denies both charges. Both are more debatable than either he or his critics allow. In 1996 I served as counselor to President Clinton and met often with Nader to discuss that campaign. Early on he told me he wouldn’t be a spoiler. Judging by his message and schedule and the deployment of his meager resources, he was true to his word. In 2000 his allocation of resources was little changed: He spent 20 days in deep blue California, two in Florida; hardly a spoiler’s itinerary. But he was in Florida at the end and his equation throughout of Gore with Bush — “Tweedledum and Tweedledee” — outraged Democrats.
The Democrats’ dismissal of Nader in 2000 was of a piece with our personality-driven politics: a curmudgeon on steroids; older now and grumpier; driven by ego and personal grievance. But Nader always hit hard; you don’t get to be the world’s most famous shopper by making allowances or pulling punches. The difference was that in 2000 Democrats as well as Republicans bore the brunt of his attacks. What had changed? It says a lot about the Democratic Party then and now that nobody bothered to ask the question, the answer to which is, a whole lot.
Bill Curry’s complete piece can be found at: Bill Curry article.
I urge all of you to take the time to read it. Had we done a better job of listening to Ralph Nader and Bill Curry we very well might not be in the mess we are today.
There is no need to agree or disagree with Nader and Curry on every issue to recognize that they speak the truth about the fact that we did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left. Us.
The question is how best to re-build a political movement that will ensure our beliefs and principles are heard and acted upon. That is one of the very reasons I am running for Governor this year.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
Democratic Party, Education and Democracy Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Pelto Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Pelto
Press Release: 6/12/2014
Pelto To Run For Governor – Will Convert from Exploratory Committee to Candidate Committee for Governor
Former state legislator Jonathan Pelto is announcing that he will be a candidate for Governor this year and that he and his Lt. Governor candidate, Ebony Murphy, will be converting their exploratory committee into a candidate committee for the office of Governor and Lt. Governor of the State of Connecticut.
“Since creating an exploratory committee for Governor a few weeks ago, I have been overwhelmed and incredibly humbled by the positive response I have received,” said Pelto, who represented the Town of Mansfield in the Connecticut General Assembly for five terms from 1984 to 1993.
“With the help of volunteers across Connecticut, we are creating a grassroots campaign that can have a profound impact on the 2014 election.” Pelto added
Pelto says his campaign has over 100 volunteers out collecting petition signatures and that they have already collected approximately 2,200 signatures in the past few days. Pelto projected that the number of people collecting signatures will reach nearly 200 people by the end of the week and he is confident that the campaign will reach the 7,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
“I said I would only run for governor if I could be a credible candidate,” Pelto said. “Having spent the last several weeks talking with voters across the political spectrum and with people willing to volunteer to help with our campaign, I am confident that we can utilize this opportunity to focus the electorate’s attention on a number of important issues such as a fair and equitable state tax system, adequate funding and support for our teachers, students, parents and public schools, and an economic development strategy that is focused on supporting small businesses and creating real jobs rather than on giving out millions of dollars in Corporate welfare.”
Pelto added, “As a third-party candidate for Governor, I recognize that the campaign system is rigged to make getting elected as difficult as possible, but I see a clear path forward and I am indeed running to win.”
Some key issues the Pelto campaign plans to highlight include:
- Middle Income Tax Reform: Connecticut’s middle class are already overburdened with taxes and in order to close the projected $1.3 billion budget deficit and maintain vital services, the income tax must be made more progressive by increasing the income tax rate on those making more than $1 million.
- Ending Corporate Welfare: Connecticut must close corporate tax loopholes and end Governor Malloy’s “First Five” corporate welfare program that has given hundreds of millions of public funds to successful companies, essentially picking winners and losers in the private, free enterprise system.
- Supporting Connecticut’s Public Schools: Gov. Malloy’s 2012 education reform legislation proposed eliminating teacher tenure and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for teachers in “turnaround” schools. Malloy’s decision to hand Connecticut’s public education system over to Charter School advocate, now Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, has ushered in an unprecedented attack on teachers, local school districts and the professionalism of the State Department of Education. Rather than attacking them, it is time that the state provides Connecticut’s public school students, families, teachers and administrators with the resources and training support that they need to ensure that all our children have an opportunity to receive a high quality education. This effort would include reaching a settlement on the CCEJF V. Rell School funding lawsuit rather than try to get it dismissed as the Malloy administration has done as this provides the best vehicle for adopting a fair school funding formula that provides public schools with the resources they need while reducing the burden on the local property tax.
- Rejection of Common Core and Common Core standardized testing scheme: Rather than placing further burdens on school systems, teachers and students brought on by the significant financial and time demands created by the implementation of the Common Core Standards and its Common Core standardized testing scheme, it is a time to devote greater time and energy to actual school work and instruction rather than teaching to the test.
- Restoring Support for Connecticut’s Public Colleges and Universities: Despite claims to the contrary, the Malloy Administration has pushed through the deepest budget cuts in state history at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities. At UConn, for example, prior to Malloy taking office, the Connecticut state budget accounted for 33% of the total cost required to operate the University of Connecticut. Three years into his term and after his record budget cuts at UConn, Connecticut State University and at the State’s Community Colleges, the state now only provides 27.9% of the amount necessary to keep UConn operating. As a direct result of Malloy’s budget cuts, the burden on students and their families have INCREASED by 17.3%. It is time for the state to restore its commitment to Connecticut students and families by supporting our public colleges and universities to make a high quality college education more affordable and accessible for everyone.
- Renewed Emphasis on Government Transparency: State government under the Malloy Administration has become increasingly secretive resulting in the loss of public accountability and an increase in the use of no-bid contracts. It is time to return Connecticut’ oversight commissions including the State Ethics Commission, the State Freedom of Information Commission and the State Elections Enforcement Commission to their independent status and provide them with the resources they need.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
The Hartford Courant has a breaking story on this issue at: http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/pelto-exploratory-phase-ends-hell-definitely-run-for-governor-on-3rd-party-line-will-form-candidate-committee/
Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy
The Connecticut Mirror leads with a story today about Governor Malloy’s PR campaign to “appease” Connecticut’s teachers in the hopes of getting active and retired teachers to support his 2014 gubernatorial re-election aspirations.
The article, which is entitled “Malloy works to appease teachers in 2014,” reviews some of the turbulent history between Malloy and Connecticut’s teachers, public employees, their unions and those who support public education and public employees.
The article contains Malloy’s famous quote on teacher tenure in which he said, “In today’s system, basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.”
The CT Mirror piece also mentions Malloy’s anti-teacher, anti-public education reform initiatives although it doesn’t contain Malloy’s equally famous comment that he didn’t mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.
Nor does the article report on Malloy’s inappropriate and fiscally irresponsible attack on Connecticut’s retired teacher health insurance fund.
In response to the various criticisms, Malloy responds, “I’ve been a supporter of labor all my life. I never hid the fact my mother was a union president, and I believe America has the middle class it has in large part because of the battles that labor fought on behalf of all working men and women, whether they were in labor or not.”
Malloy’s latest maneuver raises, yet again, the question of whether Connecticut’s children, parents, teachers and public education advocates need and deserve a pro-public education political party. (The same could certainly be said about state employees and those who support their work).
In New York, a pro-public education party is actually taking shape.
Mark Naison, a fellow pro-education blogger who is also a Professor of African-American Studies and History at Fordham University and Director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program, has agreed to challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo as the gubernatorial candidate for the newly formed “Restore Recess Party.”
Mark Naison’s decision to run as a third party candidate should not be easily dismissed.
Teachers, along with public school parents and other public education advocates, could easily be the deciding factor in a number of gubernatorial races such as the ones in Illinois or here in Connecticut.
In New York, the new pro-public education “Restore Recess Party” was created to;
“Let Governor Andrew Cuomo know there is a price for showing contempt for the parents, teachers and students of New York State and placing Data over the needs of Students.”
The Restore Recess Party Agenda includes the following elements:
1. Restore Recess.
2. Cut the state testing budget in half and use the money to lower class size and fund arts programs, sports programs and school counselors.
3. No Data Sharing. No information about children can be shared with anyone outside of the school district without parental permission.
4. Create a new Education Policy Committee to replace the Education Reform Commission, and require it to have a majority of currently active teachers and parents.
5. End the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.
6. Cancel all State Education Contracts with for profit companies.
7. Stop all School Closings – Help Schools in Trouble, Don’t Close Them.
8. End state support for the Common Core Standards- Leave that decision up to each individual school district.
9. Multiply the number of portfolio schools which require no tests at all. Let teachers and parents form them within the public school system, not as charters.
10. Bring back vocational and technical education into every school district if parents and teachers support it.
11. Withdraw from Race to the Top and take no Federal Funds that require more testing, more school closings, or adoption of Common Core Standards.
12. Make sure all schools, especially those in high poverty areas, have strong after school programs.
13. Make Community History welcome in the schools.
14. Encourage the creation of school farms and gardens.
15. Exempt special needs students from all state tests and require that they get instruction appropriate to their developmental level and aptitudes.
New York Governor Cuomo, like Malloy, has been a huge disappointment to those who had hoped and expected to have a Democratic governor who shared the Democratic Party’s historic commitment to education, public services and to the people who devote their lives to teaching our children and providing important public services.
While it is still early in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign process, the question of whether Connecticut needs a pro-public education party is becoming increasingly apparent.
Bridgeport, Democratic Party, Democratic State Central Committee, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nancy DiNardo, Nancy Wyman Bridgeport, Democratic State Central Committee, Education Reform, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nancy DiNardo
Moments ago, Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo sent out another email to party activists seeking donations for the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee. DiNardo asks, “Can you be a part of this and chip in $5 today?
But DiNardo and the Democratic Party have yet to address the important issue that has been raised again and again.
This past fall, Governor Malloy, Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee misdirected $40,000 from the Democratic Party’s coffers to pay for almost all the expenses of Mayor Bill Finch’s pro-corporate education reform slate of candidates for the Bridgeport Board of Education.
The endorsed slate lost badly to a pro-public education slate of candidates.
The Democratic challenge slate went on to win the election and with the help of the Working Families Party members unseated Finch’s campaign treasurer, Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. last night as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education, replacing the disgraced pastor with a pro-public education advocate named Sauda Baraka.
Instead of staying out of this critically important Democratic Primary, the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee used State Party funds to pay for more than 90% of the money spent to support the losing, corporate education reform oriented slate.
Since Malloy was elected governor, hundreds of Connecticut residents have donated to the Connecticut Democratic Party because they believed Governor Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Wyman and Democratic Chair Nancy DiNardo when they wrote letters and emails explaining that the donations would be used to defeat Republican candidates.
To this day it still isn’t clear whether the 72 members of the Democratic State Central Committee were properly informed or even approved of the decision to re-direct $40,000 in scarce campaign resources to a slate of candidates that was committed to undermining Connecticut’s teachers, teacher unions and the children and parents of Bridgeport.
It is truly the height of arrogance that Malloy and the Democratic Party leadership continue to send out fundraising requests yet fail to explain how it is possible that $40,000 in donations to the Connecticut Democratic Party were not used to beat Republicans but were used to try and beat pro-education Democrats.
Governor Malloy and Chairman DiNardo owe the Democrats of Connecticut an explanation and they deserve it now.
Just read today’s email and ask yourself – is it clear that they money being raised my be used to fight fellow pro-public education Democrats?
The email reads;
We need to finish the year strong.
Can you be a part of this and chip in $5 today?
Thank you for your help,
P.S.: Can you forward this email to 3 friends who might also be interested in contributing?
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jonathan Harris <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 3:46 PM
Subject: Another damn CDP fundraising email?
To: Nancy DiNardo <[email protected]>
Here at the Connecticut Democratic Party, like at most political organizations, we ask for money because we need it. We need the money to create the great graphics you love to share on Facebook and Twitter, to provide trainings on how to use the latest software and to engage voters.
So I’m going to ask you for money today. And probably next week. Just like every other political entity who has managed to get your email address – because it’s that damn important.
Can you please contribute $5 today?
It won’t make the emails stop, but it will make an impact on Connecticut’s future. In 2012, if President Obama had not raised more than $1 billion, we might very well be asking you to contribute so we can battle against the agenda of President Mitt Romney.
In the coming months, our congressmen and congresswomen are going to have a fight on their hands. And I am not about to let them fight alone.
Do you live in the 5th congressional district? Contribute $5. Do you live in the 3rd? Contribute $3.
I’m proud of the work that my team has done and the money we have raised — because I know that it is going to help us beat the Tea Party Republicans and their multimillion-dollar super PACs in 2014.
Jonathan A. Harris
Bridgeport, Democratic Party, Democratic State Central Committee, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nancy DiNardo Bridgeport, Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, Democratic Party, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nancy DiNardo
Over the last few months the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee has been raising money that purportedly would be used to help Democratic candidates beat Republican candidates.
But as Wait, What? readers know from earlier posts, Governor Malloy, Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee syphoned over more than $37,000 in a failed attempt to beat back a Democratic challenge slate in Bridgeport that did not support Paul Vallas or Governor Malloy and Mayor Bill Finch’s corporate education reform agenda.
Rather than use contributions to the State Party as promised, DiNardo and/or the Democratic State Central Committee authorized the expenditure of nearly forty thousand dollars in an effort to tip the scales in favor of Mayor Finch’s Democratic slate.
In the process the Connecticut Democratic Party also appears to have violated a number of campaign finance laws.
Months after the issue came to light, neither Governor Malloy, Chair DiNardo nor the State Central Committee have explained how it is possible that donations raised to help Democrats beat Republicans was spent instead on Democrats trying to beat Democrats.
According to the party rules, “the Democratic State Central Committee is the governing body of the Connecticut Democratic Party between conventions. It is authorized and empowered to take such action and render such decisions as may be necessary to carry out fully and adequately the decisions and instructions of the convention and to promote the aims and principles of the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels…Members of the Democratic State Central Committee shall work to promote harmony among all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, religion or sexual orientation.”
The Democratic State Central Committee is made up of two representatives, one man and one woman, elected from each senatorial district in the state for a term of two year.
In addition to its annual Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey Dinner that raises significant funds, the Connecticut Democratic State Party raises small contributions.
In recent months you may have received emails reading:
“We have to fight back with help from our grassroots donors like you. While you’re getting ready for Black Friday, don’t forget to add the Connecticut Democratic Party to your to-do list. Can you chip in $10 before Black Friday? Together, we can continue to support our candidates who stand up for Connecticut’s middle class.”
Or “Our children are vitally important to Connecticut’s future. That’s why Connecticut Democrats are standing behind programs and services that keep kids happy, healthy and on the path to success. With your support, we can keep making progress. Will you invest $10 in Connecticut’s kids? “
Or one from Governor Malloy that read, “By making a minimum $5 contribution right now, you allow the Party to help campaigns organize more efficiently, use campaign tools more strategically and contact even more voters between now and Election Day.”
But despite the constant claims that donations would be used to beat Republicans, recent campaign finance reports reveal that Governor Malloy, Chair Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee diverted significant amounts of money to try and influence the Democratic candidate selection process for Bridgeport’s recent board of education primary and election.
According to reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission;
The Democratic State Central Committee gave the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee $20,000 to pay for canvassers the day before the Democratic Primary. Those canvassers were used to turn out Democrats to vote for the pro-Finch Democratic slate and against the anti-Paul Vallas, pro-public education challenge slate of Democrats.
The Democratic State Central Committee also paid for all three direct mail pieces that were sent out in support of the pro-Finch endorsed Democratic slate.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission report reveals that the Connecticut Democratic Party paid for the following expenses related to the Pro-Finch Democratic slate’s losing campaign against the challenge Democratic slate:
- $9,471.44 Direct Mail created by March3Media, Portland, Maine
- $3,911.21 Direct Mail created by March3Media, Portland, Maine
- $4,735.72 Direct Mail created by March3Media, Portland, Maine
In addition, the Connecticut Democratic Party also made the following expenditures that may or may not have been related to the Democratic Primary. If they were related, but not properly reported, that would be yet another campaign finance violation.
- $7,500 Global Strategies, Inc. (Roy Occhiogrosso)
- $5,000 Global Strategies, Inc. (Roy Occhiogrosso)
- $1,000 Global Strategies, Inc. (Roy Occhiogrosso)
Missing completely from the Democratic State Central Committee’s campaign finance report is the expenditure for a public opinion poll that was done by or on behalf of the Bridgeport Democratic Party.
And equally serious is the lack of any reported expenditure for Ohlsen research, a Democratic opposition research company from Oregon that was hired to dig up dirt about the members of the Democratic challenge slate and their supporters. The work was definitely done, however, since information about members of the challenge slate and their supporters were secretly distributed to reporters in the days leading up to the primary and the election… although reporters didn’t print any of that information at the time. It is not clear who paid for Ohlsen Research’s contract but the company has worked closely with Global Strategies Inc. in the past.
As the dust settles what is clear is that that Connecticut Democratic Party paid for nearly all of the expenses incurred by the Pro-Finch Democratic slate and that the Connecticut Democratic Party appears to have violated state law by failing to report expenditures for postage, polling and opposition research.
What isn’t clear is if the funds were authorized and why donors to the Connecticut Democratic Party haven’t been told that their contributions were immorally and unethically used in an expensive, but losing effort to stop a pro-public education slate of Democrats.
Neither Governor Malloy nor Democratic State Chairman Nancy DiNardo has explained why or how they diverted tens of thousands of dollars in state party funds to support the Finch candidates in the Bridgeport Democratic Primary.
In fact, it is not even clear whether the Democratic State Central Committee even authorized the unprecedented expenditure of Party funds or if Malloy and DiNardo simply took the Party’s money to spend as they pleased.
It is time for Malloy, DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee to come clean.
Bridgeport, Democratic Party, Democratic State Central Committee, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Education Reform, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas
In a story entitled, Michelle Rhee revolution faces massive threat — and new accusations,” Salon Magazine’s Josh Eidelson wries, “In Bridgeport, a quiet bipartisan scheme to protect ed reformers’ favorite school chief is suspected by critics.”
The story paints a partial picture of what the Malloy, Finch, Pryor, Vallas cabal are doing to try and preserve Governor Malloy’s education reform efforts in Connecticut’s largest city.
“Education reform lightning rod Paul Vallas – who courted controversy helming school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago — isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But a school board election in Bridgeport, Conn. – the latest district to tap Vallas to oversee reforms — could effectively spell his fate. Tomorrow’s vote will offer the latest referendum on the bipartisan, billionaire-backed mainstream education reform movement, and on a multi-year effort by local Democrats – aided by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Rhee — to defeat or disempower labor-backed dissenters.
“As I’ve gone around the country, I always point to Bridgeport as one of the signs that the people can beat the power,” former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and high-profile reform critic Diane Ravitch told activists on a conference call last month. Tuesday’s election is the latest round in a long-running war over ed reform, and who should shape it, in the largest city in one of the country’s most unequal states.
For the sake of shielding Vallas and his agenda, activists allege that the city’s Democratic machine has acted indifferent or even hostile to defeating Republicans tomorrow.
“What’s at stake is the future direction of Bridgeport schools,” said Connecticut Working Families Party executive director Lindsay Farrell, citing issues including testing and class size. “And I think, in a broader sense, the direction of public education in this country.”
As I’ve reported, Bridgeport’s school board became a battleground in 2009, when two of its Republican members were ousted in an election by candidates from the labor-backed Working Families Party. While Bridgeport is overwhelmingly Democratic, by law no more than two-thirds of its nine school board seats can be held by the same party. While the board’s Democrats and Republicans had often seen eye to eye on education, the WFP didn’t. “They were very effective at questioning the status quo,” Bridgeport Education Association vice president Rob Traber told Salon last year, and when Mayor Bill Finch’s superintendent pushed unpopular cuts in 2011, the Democratic machine and its business allies got “afraid that they might lose control of the board.”
You can read the full story at: http://www.salon.com/2013/11/04/how_bipartisan_antics_could_save_the_next_michelle_rhee_from_humiliation/.
And Salon doesn’t even deal with the campaign finance issues highlighted in the recent Wait, What? articles such as this one: Did you make a contribution to the Democratic State Central Committee?
Bridgeport, Democratic Party, Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nancy DiNardo, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nancy DiNardo
A few days ago, Democratic Party activists received an email from Governor Malloy asking them to help with this year’s local election by donating to the Democratic State Central Committee.
In his email, Malloy wrote;
“We only have four days left until the polls open. On Tuesday, Connecticut voters will choose local leaders who will make important decisions about their towns and cities. These decisions will affect budgets, first responders, emergency services and schools.
By making a minimum $5 contribution right now, you allow the Party to help campaigns organize more efficiently, use campaign tools more strategically and contact even more voters between now and Election Day.”
Regards, Dan Malloy
But what Malloy didn’t say in his email is far more interesting than what he did say.
On September 9, 2013, the day before this year’s local Democratic Party primary, the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee siphoned off $20,000 from its state account and gave it to Mayor Finch and the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to help them fund their endorsed slate of candidates for the Bridgeport Board of Education, candidates loyal to Mayor Bill Finch, Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Moales Jr. and Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.
The endorsed slate, which ran on a platform of support for the corporate education reform industry, went down to a stunning defeat against a challenge slate made up of local Democrats who support local teachers, local schools and local public education. The challenge state won, in no small part, because they opposed Governor Malloy, Mayor Finch and Paul Vallas’ education reform initiatives.
As local Democratic town committees across Connecticut know, pumping $20,000 of in Democratic State Central funds to prop up a locally endorsed slate is unprecedented.
For decades the tradition has been to leave local Democratic primary battles to the people in the local community.
But Malloy’s commitment to anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public schools shows no bounds.
And by waiting until the day before the primary, Governor Dan Malloy, Democratic State Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee could be sure that the media and voters didn’t know that the Democratic State Party was underwriting the pro-Vallas slate until after Primary Day. (State law requires that campaign finance reports be submitted seven days prior to the primary and then in October).
But now that the post primary State Elections Reports have been filed, the news is even more incredible.
In addition to giving Bridgeport’s endorsed slate $20,000, Malloy, DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee picked up the cost for all three local mailings for the Bridgeport endorsed slate.
Democratic State Central paid an out-of-state direct mail company of $9,471.44 on August 26, 2013, $3,911.21 on August 29, 2013 and $4,735.72 on September 10, 2013.
This means that in addition to the $20,000 donation to the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, Democratic donors from around Connecticut paid an additional $18,118.72 to support Bridgeport’s losing pro-corporate education reform slate.
And the amount spent to support Finch’s losing slate may be even higher since the State Party’s expenditures are listed as being for printing and don’t reveal if the Democratic State Central Committee also paid for the postage for these mailings.
Adding to the controversy is the fact that during the same time period, Democratic State Central Committee paid Governor Malloy’s chief advisor, Roy Occhiogrosso, a total of $13,500. None of those funds were allocated to the Bridgeport campaign, which seems odd considering how active Occhiogrosso has been in the corporate education reform effort in Connecticut.
Since January of this year, Occhiogrosso’s company has billed A Better Connecticut, the leading charter school advocacy group, over $2.3 million for television ads, polling and strategy to support Malloy’s education reforms.
Oddly, the latest Democratic State Central Committee report also fails to show any expenditures for polling and opposition research in Bridgeport even though it is widely known that a poll was done by the pro-Finch operation and an opposition research firm out of Oregon was hired to do background checks on the individual members of the challenge slate and their supporters.
With no expenditures listed for public opinion polling, opposition research or Occhiogrosso’s firm, the Bridgeport and Democratic State Central Committee campaign finance reports reiterate the likelihood that Finch, Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee violated Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.
Considering the historic role of the Democratic State Central Committee, the Bridgeport situation seems like an utter fiasco.
At least $40,000, and perhaps much more, was diverted away from helping Democrats beat Republicans and instead it was used to silence the opponents of Malloy’s education reform strategies.
Did the Democratic State Central Committee approve these massive expenditures?
Were Democratic Town Chairs told that they were raising money that would be spent in a Bridgeport Primary and not to beat Republicans?
What about the many donors to the Democratic State Central Committee’s annual Jefferson, Jackson Bailey dinner. Where they told their contributions were going to be used to fight Democrats and not Republicans?
And why is Governor Malloy misleading Democratic donors now by claiming that their contributions will go toward one thing when he knows that money is being spent for something else?
Finally, Malloy’s email contains one other extraordinarily interesting tidbit.
The small print of the email reads; “Your contribution will be used in connection with federal elections and is subject to the limitations and prohibitions of the Federal Election Campaign Act. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contribution exceed $200 in a calendar year.”
In fact, in recent months Malloy has been raising money into the Party’s Federal Account. While Malloy can use those funds in a gubernatorial campaign year they cannot legally be used in local elections.
So while Malloy’s email says give $5 to help local races, it also reveals that the money may be shifted to the Democratic State Central Committee’s federal account where it can be used next year, when there are federal races, but not this year.
The questions about Malloy’s fundraising practices are growing exponentially.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Campaign Finance, Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, State Elections Enforcement Commission, Stefan Pryor Campaign Finance, Gubernatorial, Malloy
Thanks to the changes in Connecticut’s campaign finance system that were initiated and signed into law by Governor Malloy, corporate education reformers Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson each wrote $10,000 checks to Connecticut’s Democratic Party this year.
It is hardly the first time that Sackler and his wife, Mary Corson, have ponied up for Governor Malloy.
Over the past two years Malloy has attended fifteen (15) fundraisers for a political action committee named Prosperity for Connecticut PAC. Three of these events were held in Washington D.C., three in New York City and the rest here in Connecticut.
The most successful Prosperity for Connecticut fundraising event was held at the home of Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson. (See Wait, What? post: Malloy affiliated Political Action Committee cashes in on education reform bill). The event raised nearly $50,000 and donations came from education reform industry leaders from around the state and country. The event was held on the day Malloy’s education reform bill became a Connecticut Public Act.
Jonathan Sackler was also an initial donor and Board member of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company co-founded by Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.
Sackler also formed ConnCAN, ConnAD and 50CAN, all major corporate education reform advocacy groups.
Last year, at the last moment, Sackler wrote a check for $50,000 to help pay for Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s failed attempt to change the Bridgeport Charter to do away with a democratically elected Board of Education and replace it with one appointed by Finch.
In recent days, various Connecticut media outlets have been writing about Connecticut campaign finance issues.
The CT Mirror posted an article entitled, “CT GOP, Democrats joust over Malloy’s fundraising,” while CT Newsjunkie published “Heavy Hitters Ride to the Rescue For Dems Under New Fundraising Rules.”
The controversy surrounding Malloy and the Democrats is hardly a new one.
In a Wait, What? story last June entitled, “Malloy, legislature continue to water-down Connecticut’s “landmark” campaign finance laws,” readers were informed that;
“This year, Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the legislature made their most dramatic and audacious effort, to date, to undermine the law.
And they succeeded…with Malloy signing the new bill into law yesterday.
At a time when the public understands that campaign money plays too much of a role in American politics, Malloy and the Democrats took significant steps to reverse earlier limitations on campaign donations and spending.
As a result of the new law, significantly more money will be spilling into Connecticut campaigns.
Among other things, the law doubles the amount campaign donors may contribute to political parties and actually removes the cap on how much political parties can spend on publicly-financed candidates.
The most incredible new development is that the law now allows a candidate to help raise money for a political action committee that will later spend that money to support the very candidate who helped raise it.
As reported here at Wait, What? and elsewhere, Governor Malloy has held at least 15 fundraisers for a political action committee called Prosperity for Connecticut. Under the old law, there were severe limitations on how that committee could spend its money, ensuring that its primary purpose was not to support any affiliated candidates.
The new law changes that system completely.
Malloy can now help a Super PAC raise unlimited amounts of money and that PAC can then spend that money to support Malloy.”
Now Malloy is capitalizing on his successful efforts to undermine Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.
In its most recent campaign finance story, the CT Mirror writes,
“Emboldened by looser campaign-finance rules and a rainmaking governor, the Connecticut Democratic Party is raising money nearly three times faster for the 2014 election than it did four years ago in preparation for 2010. At the same time, Republican fundraising is stagnant. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a first-term Democrat up for re-election next year, is aggressively headlining his party’s fundraising, utilizing a law passed this year by the Democratic state legislature that raised donor limits and allows the state parties for the first time to make unlimited expenditures to support candidates for governor and other state offices.”
The CT Mirror further explains, “The Democratic Party, which dominates the General Assembly and holds every statewide and congressional office, has raised more than $1.5 million since January in its state and federal campaign accounts, compared with $566,530 over the same period four years ago. And the numbers do not reflect proceeds from Malloy’s most recent fundraising efforts, a series of events a week ago in California.”
The power of the Malloy driven changes can be seen in that, “Of the $1.5 million raised this year by Democrats, $430,000 came from a roster of donors who wrote $10,000 checks, the maximum allowed by law. Those donors include top executives of the state’s largest utility, the company that manages state athletic venues, a major state landlord, a provider of state parking services and developers of a major real-estate project supported by state assistance.”
While the CT Mirror story reports that “Brian McAllister of New York, the chief executive of a ferry company that has urged the state to build a new terminal in Bridgeport, wrote two $10,000 checks, one for the party’s federal account and another to its state account,” the story fails to make reference to the fact that Malloy is collecting campaign checks from people like McAlister in a number of was.
A December 2012 Wait, What post highlighted the rest of the story by noting, “15+ family members and employees of a New York tug boat towing and ferry boat company give to Malloy PAC.
In fact, many of the $10,000 checks to the Democratic State Central Committee come from people who attended one of the 15 fundraisers held by the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC.
Following the Rowland scandals, Connecticut passed some of the most far-reaching campaign finance reforms in the country. Our law was a model for how the people could take back their democracy.
Since then Governor Malloy, with the help of the Democratic controlled legislature, has been destroying and undermining Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance laws.
We are well on our way back to becoming the “pay to play” state that ended up with a governor in jail.
Campaign Finance, Democratic Party, Ethics, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy Campaign Finance, Democratic Party, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy
Last April, Governor Malloy attended the “the star-studded White House Correspondent’s Dinner.”
His ticket and travel expenses were picked up by People Magazine.
The trip sparked a lot controversy including blog posts here at Wait, What? (Dannel’s Spring Break 2013 – The White House Correspondent’s Dinner April, 27 2013 and Wait, What? Malloy Reimburses People Magazine…)
At the time of the trip, Malloy’s office released a statement saying, “Instead of shifting the cost to the taxpayers, the Governor is personally paying the cost.”
Actually Malloy told Channel 8 news, “I could do it with state dollars, or I could do it with someone else’s dollars. I thought doing it with somebody else’s dollars made a lot of sense,”
But six months later, the Governor’s Office finally responded to a Freedom of Information request about the trip.
The documents that were released to NBC news revealed that while Malloy did “pay his own way” to the White House Gala, taxpayers picked up the $4,808.58 bill for his security detail.
When confronted about the conflict with the earlier statement, Malloy’s spokesperson explained that the Governor never said he was paying for all the costs associated with the trip to the Correspondent’s Dinner.
Instead the spokesman explained, “What we said was the Governor, rather than saddling taxpayers with the cost for his travel expenses, he paid for it himself.”
It campaign speak it is called “political spin.” In the real world it’s called never quite telling the whole truth.
Now questions are raging about Malloy’ recent California fundraising trip.
Both the governor’s office and the Connecticut Democratic State Party have refused to reveal details about the trip that Malloy took last Friday and Saturday.
According to the media reports, the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee paid for Malloy’s trip…but that excludes the costs incurred by the state troopers who went with the governor.
So despite what the Governor and his operation said about the Democratic Party picking up the tab, the cost to Connecticut taxpayers for Malloy’s trip ran into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Furthermore, as the Hartford Courant reported, the governor’s fundraising trip apparently including a stop to raise money from a California Democrat whose company has had “lucrative state contracts.”
But Malloy’s office and the state Democratic Party also refused to provide answers about the possible solicitation of a state contractor.
The Courant explained, “According to press reports, while on his fundraising trip, the governor was a guest of Lenny Mendonca, a prominent Northern California Democrat who co-founded the public sector practice at McKinsey & Company,” which has had contracts with UConn totaling $4 million over the past two years.
The Courant quoted Republican State Senator John McKinney as saying, “The revelation that the governor met with a state contractor while on a fundraising trip for the Democratic Party raises a number of questions. If the governor was soliciting a state contractor, or his employees for political contributions, then he clearly violated the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, if not the laws themselves.”
The Courant added,
“There was no response from the governor’s office. Malloy’s director of communications, Andrew Doba, referred questions to the state Democratic Party. The party’s spokesman, James Hallinan, had this to say: ‘The governor always follows all rules and regulations.’
But did Malloy meet with Mendonca, as Peterson’s tweet suggested?
Hallinan would not answer that question. Instead, he said: ‘Again, we don’t comment about [Democratic Party] finance issues. That’s just our protocol. The governor always follows all rules and regulations.’”
At a press conference yesterday, reporters asked Malloy, once again, about the California trip and whether he met with the state contractor.
About the trip, Malloy said “talk to the party.”
About raising money from Mendonca, Malloy said, “I think I did have contact with such a person but not in connection with raising — to the best of my knowledge — money for Democratic causes.”
Such a person?
To the best of my knowledge?
Whether you call it political spin or not telling the whole truth it is a sad commentary about Governor Malloy’s “commitment” to transparency, open government and telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.