Despite the herculean efforts of the political spinmeisters surrounding Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut’s Democratic Party leaders, the truth about what is taking place in Hartford, Connecticut is becoming increasingly apparent.
While the outcome of Hartford’s Democratic Primary for Mayor won’t be known until the last votes are counted on Wednesday, September 16, 2015, Greenwich Native and Hartford newcomer Luke Bronin appears to be on the verge of defeating the only Puerto Rican mayor of any major city across the 50 States.
If the political take-down occurs, the vast majority of the “credit” goes to the “Divine Invisible” hand of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, Malloy’s political operatives and Luke Bronin’s record breaking expensive campaign.
The harsh and disturbing reality is that if successful, Luke Bronin’s defeat of Mayor Pedro Segarra may very well be the most audacious political attack on the Latino community by a sitting Democratic Governor.
Novice Luke Bronin’s quest to become the next Mayor of Hartford, Connecticut is a case study on Dannel Malloy’s effort to deliver the money and political support necessary to install an affluent, white, protégée as mayor of Connecticut’s Capital, a community in which so-called “minority” residents make up well over 70 percent of Hartford’s 125,000 population and where at least 48 percent of Hartford residents speak a language other than English at home.
In Hartford’s public schools, less than 10 percent of the students are White and just over 50 percent are Latino or Hispanic. Approximately one in five Hartford students is not fluent in English and 85% of all students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
But in an extremely unreported, but extraordinarily dramatic set of circumstances, an individual who has never run for office, never worked in municipal government and never attended a public school is poised to defeat Hartford’s Latino Mayor, Pedro Segarra.
While Mayor Segarra has had his problems, challenges and difficulties, the race isn’t so much about the incumbent as it is about the challenger’s unprecedented campaign, a challenger who belongs among the 1% but claims his golden pedigree has prepared him to save Hartford.
And with that, the spotlight shifts to Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.
- Andrew Doba, who serves as Luke Bronin’s spokesman and cheerleader, spent the last two years as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Communications Director and official mouthpiece. While Bronin’s campaign broke Connecticut Campaign Finance Law this summer by accepting an illegal campaign donation form Doba’s New York based public relations company, following Wait, What? coverage of the issue, it now appears that Bronin is finally paying Malloy’s former aide for his services. Considering Malloy’s pro-charter school, pro-education reform, anti-teacher agenda, it is not surprising that Doba is also Connecticut point person for the New York City based charter school industry front group known as Families for Excellent Schools. The lobbying group has devoted more than $1 million to help pass Malloy’s “education” initiative that has diverted millions in scarce public funds to privately owned charter schools rather than to inadequately funded public schools in Hartford and the state’s other poor school system.
- In recent weeks, Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s chief advisor and alter ego has also collected more than $58,000 from Bronin’s campaign for “polling and advertising services.”
- Bronin’s major donors includes many individuals with direct ties to Malloy, including Malloy’s former chief of staff, his former campaign manager, his former campaign treasurer, and a number of Malloy’s gubernatorial and campaign aides.
- More than 50 of Malloy political appointees, including many who are collecting six figure incomes after getting appointed to state jobs by Malloy over the past few years are also on Bronin’s contributor list including present and former state commissioners and deputy commissioners, executive assistants and appointees to various boards and commissions including the Parole Board, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and the Board of Regents.
- In addition, an unprecedented number of Bronin’s campaign donations have come from State lobbyists.
As of Bronin’s July campaign finance report, at least 33 state lobbyists, along with a number of their spouses had given to Luke Bronin’s campaign. The list includes many of the most influential names in the lobbying business.
- Bronin has been cashing in with Dannell Malloy’s previous gubernatorial donors, especially with those who have large state contracts.
For example, The Konover Company, a real estate management firm that profits from state contracts poured at least $71,000 into Malloy’s 2014 campaign effort via the Democratic Party’s “Federal Account.” Those same individuals are among Luke Bronin’s largest campaign contributors.
Another prime example of the Malloy/Bronin reach is the fact that Bronin has collected $4,000 from Anthony Gaglio, Anthony Gaglio Jr. and their spouses.
The Gaglios own Viking Construction Inc. a company that donated $63,500 to Malloy via what the Harford Courant called, “a controversial state Democratic Party federal account that supported Malloy’s re-election.”
Reporting on Viking Construction’s donations to Luke Bronin, the Hartford Courant explained,
“Calls to Viking were not returned Thursday or Friday. Viking, a major player in residential construction, was general contractor for an affordable housing development recently built in Darien in cooperation with Malloy and state economic development officials.
Bronin, responding to a question about the Gaglios’ contributions, said in an email Friday, “I was introduced to them by a supporter, and after sharing my vision for a vibrant Hartford, I was pleased to get their support.”
- Connecticut’s largest law firms, most of which also have lucrative state contracts, have also served as a major source of campaign funds for Bronin’s effort to defeat Pedro Segarra.
Among the large law firms that have provided Bronin with campaign donations are Pullman & Comely; Updike, Kelly & Spellacy; Shipman & Goodwin; Murtha, Cullina; Day, Pitney and Robinson & Cole.
These same firms were instrumental in funding Malloy’s Democratic Party campaign slush fund with about $45,000 coming from Pullman & Comely, $30,000 from Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, $11,000 from Shipman & Goodwin, along with sizable donations from Day Pitney; Robinson & Cole and others.
- And other key Democratic Party officials also appear involved in the effort to defeat Pedro Segarra. Attorney General George Jepsen’s two top aides, the AG’s Deputy Attorney General and his Chief Adviser, have donated to Segarra’s opponent. Luke Bronin’s contributor list also includes top aides to State Treasurer Denise Nappier.
- Equally telling is the fact Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, once considered a leading voice for Latino causes and a strong supporter of Pedro Segarra, has been utterly silent as the Malloy and the Democratic Party has targeted Segarra for defeat…as has many of Connecticut’s other key Democratic elected officials.
In the end, Governor Dannel Malloy’s decision to help remove one of the nation’s highest ranking Puerto Rican elected officials is not only noteworthy because Malloy is a Democrat and relied heavily on support from Latino and Hispanic voters to get elected to a first and second term, but also because Malloy will be take the helm of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) in just a few months.
In that role Malloy’s duty will be to raise money for the various Democratic candidates running for governor in 2016, while helping to get out the vote on behalf of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Malloy has already been to New Hampshire to campaign for Hilary Clinton.
Considering the Democratic Party needs strong support from Hispanic and Latino voters in order to win a the national and state level in 2016, Dannel Malloy’s involvement in helping to take down a major Latino leader is nothing short of stunning.
Perhaps the only thing more stunning has been the complete lack of national media coverage about the developing situation in Connecticut.