Pelto To Run For Governor

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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/

 

A Pro-Public Education Party for Connecticut?

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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.

Connecticut Democratic Party Chair fails to explain – Why did the Party divert 40k to fight pro-public education Democrats in Bridgeport Primary?

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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;

Dear Jonathan

We need to finish the year strong.

Can you be a part of this and chip in $5 today?

Thank you for your help,

Nancy

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]>

Dear Nancy,

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.

Proudly,

Jonathan A. Harris
Executive Director

Time for the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee to come clean about spending

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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 Board of Education Election makes Salon Magazine

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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.

Eidelson explains:

“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?

Did you make a contribution to the Democratic State Central Committee?

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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.

Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform

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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.

Governor Dannel Malloy just doesn’t get it…

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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.

State Democratic Party (quietly) dumps $20k into losing Bridgeport slate

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Connecticut residents who attended the Democrat Party’s recent Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey dinner will be shocked to learn that according to a new campaign finance reported filed by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, the State Democratic Party siphoned off $20,000 in donations to the state party to cover the outstanding costs associated with Mayor Bill Finch and the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee’s recent loss in the September Bridgeport Board of Education primary.

On September 10th, the Democratic Party’s 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, went down in a stunning defeat against a challenge slate made up of candidates opposed to Governor Malloy, Mayor Finch and Paul Vallas’ education reform initiatives.

The successful challenge slate had the support of local public education advocates, the Connecticut and Bridgeport Education Associations and the Working Families Party, as well as others.

Now the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee’s October campaign finance report reveals that with the local Bridgeport Town Committee facing a shortfall of at least $12,000, the State Democratic Party bailed Finch and the Bridgeport machine out with a $20,000 check the day before the primary was held.

By waiting until the day before the primary, Governor Dan Malloy, Democratic 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)

According to the campaign finance report, nearly all of the money spent was used to cover more than 140 checks to individual campaign workers who were apparently canvassing for the losing slate.

With no expenditures listed for direct mail, public opinion polling or an opposition research report that was conducted during the campaign, the new campaign finance report reiterates the likelihood that the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee has violated a series of campaign finance laws.  A full investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Committee will be needed to determine just what Connecticut campaign finance laws the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee broke.

The direct financial involvement of the Democratic State Party in a local primary is very unusual.  Traditionally, state Democrats have left those intra-party battles to the local Democrats.

The fact that the Democratic State Central Committee donated at least $20,000 and allowed the endorsed, pro-Finch, Moales and Vallas slate to use the Democratic State Central Committee’s non-profit mailing permit suggests that Governor Malloy and his pro-corporate education reform allies will do whatever it takes to try to defeat candidates who support Connecticut teachers and Connecticut’s public education system.

Check back for follow-up posts on any state investigations into the alleged campaign finance violations by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.

Connecticut Post editorial writers continue to pump out powerful pieces

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“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.” - Edward R. Murrow

 

I’ve used that quote before here at Wait, What? I believe it to be one of the most important political statements in American history.  It was uttered by the great journalist Edward R, Murrow.  As one of the greatest war correspondents, Murrow’s impact on the american people was profound.  But his greatest contribution was probably his willingness to stand up and speak the truth when it came to Senator Joseph McCarthy.  When Murrow and his team created a hard-hitting documentary on Joe McCarthy, CBS refused to pay for any publicity related to the piece or allow Murrow to use CBS’ logo.  So Murrow and colleagues purchased their own newspaper advertising.

Murrow understood that when the opposition is silenced, the demise of democracy is not far behind.

It is that very understanding that made yesterday’s Connecticut Post’s editorial entitled, “Opposition’s emergence benefits city” so noteworthy.

The Connecticut Post wrote;

“In a city like Bridgeport, where an entrenched political establishment seemingly gets its way on everything, days like Tuesday don’t come around very often.

Party-endorsed candidates lost across the city in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The makeup of the City Council and school board will be dramatically different thanks to a combination of voter unrest and organized opposition of the sort that rarely makes a dent in city elections.

The Bridgeport electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic. Republicans seldom make any noise, and have been mostly surpassed by the Working Families Party as the Democrats’ main opposition. Still, whoever wins the Democratic nomination is considered a heavy favorite on the November ballot. That’s what made the primary vote so important.

The City Council has for years been all Democrats, but a number of longtime incumbents were beaten on Tuesday. Some of the winners look like they will be critical of the city’s entrenched powers, which would be a healthy sign. A council that agrees on everything is the cause of debacles like the $400,000 airport driveway for a connected developer, which was approved this year while the council slept.

The biggest change will be on the school board. With four incumbents not running, there would have been serious turnover anyway, but now it looks as though control of the board will shift away from party-endorsed members. If the general election goes as expected, a majority on the board will be staunch opponents of the mayor’s school-reform efforts, and dedicated skeptics of the work of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas.

Voter turnout was a disappointment. But the conventional wisdom that low turnout favors the party machine was turned on its head. In fact, it was a blowout in favor of the school board’s challenge slate, with the three Row B candidates racking up wins across the city, often by large margins.

It would be hard to view this as anything other than a rebuke to the city’s ongoing education reforms. The endorsed candidates had each pledged support for Vallas and the changes he has wrought, and the challengers all spoke against his work. The challengers won, and it wasn’t close. District leadership will have to respond to that message.

Most promising, even given the low turnout, is the appearance in the past year or two of a viable opposition. It took hold in the defeat of a charter revision plan last year that would have removed the public’s right to elect a school board, and the momentum continued Tuesday. Anyone who chalked up last year’s charter defeat to the simultaneous presidential election, which always attracts high turnout, must face the fact that a low-turnout election has now produced the same result.

Opposition is healthy. Change is good. The city will be better because of it.”

You can read the Connecticut Post’s editorial at: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Opposition-s-emergence-benefits-city-4806360.php

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