Campaign Finance, Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Elections Enforcement Commission Campaign Finance, Campaign Finance Reform, Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Elections Enforcement Commission
When Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy accepted $6.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for this 2014 gubernatorial campaign he signed a contract promising not to accept any other funds to pay for his campaign.
But despite that commitment Malloy and his political operatives funneled millions of dollars through the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s Federal Account in an unethical effort to beat his Republican opponent. The money that flowed through the Democratic Party’s special account included hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who directly benefited from lucrative state contracts, a move that also violated Connecticut state law.
Connecticut’s bi-partisan State Elections Enforcement Commission authorized an investigation into the illegal activities engaged by Malloy and his political operatives.
But rather than address the issues, Team Malloy has been fighting to stop the investigation.
Not only has he ducked his legal responsibilities as governor and as a candidate for governor, but he is forcing the state to waste massive amounts of public funds trying to get the Malloy campaign and the Democratic Party to stop stonewalling the investigation by the Connecticut State Elections Commission.
The Connecticut State Elections Commission is hardly a partisan body.
Anthony J. Castagno of North Stonington was elected Chairman of the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission in December 2012. He was nominated to the Commission by the Speaker of the House. Salvatore A. Bramante was nominated to the Commission by the Minority Leader of the House. Patricia Stankevicius of Wolcott was nominated to serve on the Commission by Governor M. Jodi Rell. Attorney Stephen T. Penny was nominated to serve on the Commission by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Attorney Michael J. Ajello was nominated to the Commission by the Senate Minority Leader.
All were confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.
Let’s re-state that point – ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT STATE ELECTIONS ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION WERE LEGALLY NOMINATED AND CONFIRMED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
But rather than protect the State Election Enforcement Commission’s legal responsibility to investigate what appears to be a major crime, Malloy and his political operatives continue to do everything they can to stop what is an appropriate and necessary investigation into Malloy’s campaign.
Here is the latest news coverage of the effort to stop the duly authorized investigation.
From the Hartford Courant comes, “Final Arguments Turn Testy On Subpoena Of State Democratic Party Documents.”
Lawyers delivered at-times testy final arguments Tuesday in a trial over whether the state Democratic Party can continue to defy a subpoena that demands emails between Gov. Daniel P. Malloy and top aides, as well as other documents relating to the party’s support of Malloy’s re-election last year.
Central to the case are the clean-election laws that the General Assembly enacted in 2005, after Gov. John G. Rowland was convicted of corruption for receiving lucrative benefits from state contractors. Those laws created a system of public financing of state campaigns, along with a ban on state contractors’ executives and family members contributing to candidates for state office – all intended to banish contractors’ influence from elections.
According to the GOP’s complaint, state Democrats broke state law by paying for pro-Malloy mass mailings last year with about $250,000 from a federally regulated campaign account, which is allowed by federal law to accept heavy contributions from state contractors. Republicans said the expenditure on the mailings illegally circumvented the state ban on contractors’ contributions.
In court Tuesday, Golub reiterated past assertions that the Malloy mailers must be considered “federal election activity” – which federal law requires be paid for out of the federal account, he said.
“Federal election activity” is what Congress has decided “can influence the outcome of a federal election,” Golub said – adding that the mailers fell into that category because, even though they were dominated by photos and praise of Malloy, they included wording that urged people to vote, told them where polling places were and provided a phone number to call for a ride to the polls.
Those voters could also vote for candidates for federal office – in the person of Democratic candidates for congressional seats who were on the same ballot with Malloy. Thus, Golub has said for weeks, the get-out-the-vote language on the pro-Malloy mailers could have affected the outcome of federal congressional elections. It didn’t matter that the pro-Malloy mailers didn’t contain the names of any of those congressional candidates, he said.
However, Osborne said the state and federal laws aren’t incompatible, as Golub claims, and that it might have been possible for the Democrats to comply with both. She asked Robaina to uphold the SEEC’s authority under state law, as “the election experts,” to “carry out a meaningful investigation.”
Her comments echoed what she wrote in a recent legal brief: “The far-reaching implications of [Golub’s] argument cannot be overstated; if the … pre-emption claim is permitted to prevail, in every election in Connecticut where there is a federal candidate on the ballot, which is every two years, the SEEC’s authority to regulate contributions to state candidates will be effortlessly circumvented,” Osborne wrote. “Such a conclusion will reverberate through state elections and even beyond the borders of Connecticut.”
Golub said that although U.S. Supreme Court decisions generally give deference to subpoenas from regulatory agencies such as the SEEC, they make an “enormous exception” in cases where a party organization’s First Amendment rights to associate politically are threatened.
In such cases – and he said this is one – the regulatory agency needs to make a detailed “showing of need” that goes “beyond just a general suspicion,” Golub said. He said the subpoena seeks two full years’ worth of internal party communications that could cover strategy and internal operations, as well as the names of people who solicit money to operate the party and expand membership, adding that information is constitutionally protected.
But Osborne disputed him, saying emails are often the source of information about improper activity, and the party shouldn’t be able to withhold them because they may be “embarrassing” on a personal level to those who wrote them.
In 2014, Connecticut taxpayers funded more than$33 million in campaign grants to state candidates who participated in the Citizens’ Election Program on the promise that they wouldn’t accept money from state contractors. Malloy received $6.5 million through the public-financing program.
The CT Newsjunkie story on the hearing was entitled, “Attorney For Election Regulators: Dems Tried To ‘Stonewall and Stymie’ Investigation.”
An attorney for state election regulators told Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina that the Connecticut Democratic Party was trying to “stonewall and stymie” an investigation, while an attorney for the party told him they were seeking highly confidential party communications protected by the First Amendment.
Those arguments were made Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court. Robaina gave the attorneys two hours to make their closing arguments. He asked no questions. He has 120 days to make a decision, but told the attorneys he will make one as quickly as possible.
Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne, who represents the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which is seeking to enforce the subpoena against the Democratic Party said the investigation regulators are trying to conduct “is seriously languishing” due to the lack of compliance.
The complaint against the Democratic Party, which spent more than $200,000 from its federal account on mailers featuring Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was filed by former Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola back in October 2014.
The mailers that also included a get-out-the-vote message were paid for with the party’s federal account. The federal account can accept money from state contractors. That creates a conflict between federal and state law. State law prohibits state contractor money from being used on publicly financed candidates, even though publicly financed candidates are now allowed to accept unlimited amounts from political parties.
Osborne said if the party is allowed to get away with this it amounts to a “massive circumvention route” around the state’s campaign finance laws, which were adopted in 2005 in the wake of former Gov. John G. Rowland’s corruption plea for accepting gifts from state contractors.
And the CT Mirror added to the coverage in, “Assistant AG: Democrats trying to ‘stonewall’,” writing
How the Connecticut Democratic Party came to solicit state contractors, regulated industries and beneficiaries of state aid for campaign contributions in 2014 is “highly privileged and confidential,” the party’s lawyer told a judge Tuesday.
David S. Golub, defending Democrats against an investigative subpoena, told Superior Court Judge Antonio C. Robaina in Hartford that the party has no obligation to disclose its fundraising strategy or internal communications.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission has no right to the names of people who solicited campaign funds or the strategy for approaching donors, he said. Donors gave as much as $20,000 each in the two years prior to 2014 election, when the Democratic Party raised more than $7 million.
Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne, representing the commission, said the Democrats were trying to “stonewall and stymie the investigation.”
The commission is attempting to investigate whether the party illegally supported the re-election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last year with contributions from donors barred from giving to state campaigns.
Robaina heard final arguments Tuesday on a motion by the attorney general’s office for the judge to compel the party to produce emails, bank records and other documents subpoenaed by the elections commission.
“This court should order the enforcement of the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s subpoena sooner rather than later,” Osborne said.
Robaina, who gave the two lawyers free rein to spar for two hours, has 120 days to render a decision. The judge asked no questions, made no comments and gave no hint of whether he would facilitate or hobble what might be the most politically sensitive investigation ever opened by the commission.
In trying to quash the subpoena, Golub made arguments aimed at ending the investigation. He is challenging the commission’s jurisdiction and accusing it of trying to reach too deeply into the inner workings of the state’s dominant political party, violating its First Amendment rights.
The case is testing the strength of sweeping campaign finance reforms passed in 2005 after a corruption scandal toppled Gov. John G. Rowland: a ban on donations from state contractors, limits on lobbyist contributions and a voluntary system of publicly financed campaigns.
A central issue is conflicts between state and federal campaign finance law.
While Connecticut law bars state contractors from donating to state campaigns, federal law dictates the rules for raising and spending money that is used for get-out-the-vote efforts in federal election years, when state elections are also held.
The result is state parties maintain state and federal accounts. They are free to deposit state contractor contributions in the federal accounts, which provide significant support for state campaigns by helping deliver voters to the polls.
Essentially, the state has two sets of contradictory campaign financing rules: one provides public financing to candidates who agree to accept donations of no more than $100 and abide by spending limits that vary by office; the other allows state parties to accept maximum donations of $10,000 a year and spend unlimited amounts supporting their candidates.
Malloy benefitted from both systems. He is Connecticut’s first governor to win using public financing, defeating wealthy, self-funding opponents who outspent him in the Democratic primary and general election in 2010.
He was re-elected in 2014 with $6.5 million in public financing and the support of a party that financed a sophisticated get-out-the-vote machine with funds Malloy helped attract, beginning with more than $1.5 million in 2013. That was triple what the Democratic Party had collected four years earlier in the runup to the 2010 election, when it did not control the governor’s office.
And so it goes…..
Apparently laws are for the little people….
Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes
If there is one overarching message coming out of the Republican Presidential Debates it is the realization that candidates for the highest office in the nation have absolutely no problem with simply making sh*t up.
But the buffoons seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States certainly aren’t alone.
Unfortunately for Americans and American Democracy, making sh*t up has become the new normal across the political spectrum, even (or especially) right here in Connecticut.
Take for instance the case study of Democrat Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut’s Fiscal Crisis
As Dannel Malloy is fond of saying, thanks to Republican Governor Jodi Rell and a Democratic General Assembly, he “inherited” a $3 billion budget problem when he took office in January 2011.
In order to put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order Malloy instituted a massive tax increase, significant budget cuts and a large concession package with Connecticut’s State Employees, although he did manage to protect and coddle Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers in the process.
Although his comprehensive financial “fix” didn’t actually solve Connecticut’s budget problems, Governor Malloy set that truth aside and spent the entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign claiming that Connecticut’s state budget was balanced, that there was no state budget deficit, and that if re-elected, he would not propose or accept any tax increase in a second term as governor
According to Malloy, the road ahead was filled with the “green lights” of fiscal stability and that upon entering a second term he would steer the ship of state without having to make cuts to vital services, seek additional concessions from Connecticut’s State Employees or raise taxes.
It was Dannel Malloy’s “Read my Lips” moment and despite the very real warning signs about Connecticut’s growing fiscal problems, Dannel Malloy would not budge from his 2014 political talking points.
“We won’t have deficits. We don’t have deficits.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – Feb 4, 2014
“We really don’t have a deficit.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – August 4, 2014
“There won’t be a deficit. And there won’t be tax increases, because I’m taking that pledge when I couldn’t take it before, because this is a budget I own.” Malloy – NBC Connecticut – Sep. 30, 2014
“I don’t believe there will be a budget deficit and I pledge that there won’t be one. I also pledge that there will not be a tax increase.” Malloy. – FOX CT – Sep. 30, 2014
Although Connecticut law requires the Governor and his administration to provide a truthful assessment of the state’s fiscal situation, the Malloy administration refused to even admit there was a growing budget deficit until after he won re-election in November 2014.
Malloy finally admitted what was already known, that Connecticut’s state budget wasn’t balanced but he and his appointees insisted that they would simply cut spending sufficiently to balance the 2014-15 state budget.
“State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – November 24, 2014
But when Connecticut’s state fiscal year came to a close eight months later, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo certified that State Government ended the year with a $118.4 million budget deficit.
No amount of reality would stand in the way of Malloy’s political rhetoric, prior to or even after the 2014 Election.
On February 3, 2015, just weeks before Malloy presented his new proposed state budget for Fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, his budget chief briefed the media.
When asked whether Malloy would be able to keep his campaign “no-tax-increase pledge?”
“YES” was how Ben Barnes, Malloy’s Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management responded
Four months later, when Governor Malloy signed the new state budget into law, the “no-tax-increase pledge” was replaced with about $1.8 billion in additional taxes, over the biennium, including the elimination or postponement of $480 million in tax cuts that, during the campaign, Malloy had promised voters would take effect following his re-election.
In addition to shattering his “read my lips” promise on taxes, Malloy’s budget also made significant and drastic cuts to a range of vital services and programs. The hardest hit included Connecticut’s hospitals, services for those challenged by developmental and other disabilities and Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.
And was that new budget actually balanced as Malloy claimed?
Not a chance.
As we are now learning, just four months into the fiscal year, Connecticut’s “balanced budget” is becoming unhinged.
More cuts to vital services and still Connecticut is facing a combined $600 million budget deficit in this fiscal year and next…and the hole is getting bigger.
In addition, as a result of failing to properly balance this year’s budget, Connecticut will be facing a $1.6 billion shortfall in the state budget immediately following the 2016 state elections for members of the Connecticut General Assembly.
As the CT Mirror reported this week,
“That means the financial problems facing the Capitol over the next few years are roughly five times the size of Connecticut’s modest $406 million emergency reserve.”
Since Connecticut law requires the Legislature to adopt a 2 year biannual budget, when newly elected legislators are sworn into office in January 2017, they will be faced with a projected budget crisis of well over $3 billion and growing … A problem similar in size and scope to the budget crisis that Malloy “inherited” when he took office in January 2011.
The truth is that after two gigantic tax increases, major cuts to vital programs and a significant State Employee concession package, Malloy is captaining a ship that will face as big a problem as the one he started with five years ago.
To see politicians making sh*t up, you can tune into the Republican Presidential Debates, or you can simply look to see what is being said by Connecticut’s Chief Elected Official.
Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, voters of all philosophies, now would be a good time to demand better at the national level and right here in Connecticut.
Campaign Finance, Democratic Governors Association (DGA), Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Elections Enforcement Commission Campaign Finance Reform, Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy
In his effort to win re-election to a second term as Connecticut’s governor, Dannel Malloy certified that he would abide by Connecticut’s public financing program. In return for raising $250,000 in contributions no greater than $100 per person, the State Elections Enforcement Commission provided Malloy’s campaign with $6.5 million in public funds. As a requirement for taking those funds, Malloy swore, under oath, that he would not accept any other campaign donations.
However, in the course of the 2014 the campaign, and in conjunction with the Democratic State Central Committee, Malloy and his political operatives funneled more than $5.2 million dollars into a Democratic Party account. That money was used, in part, to pay for a series of glossy mailings urging people to vote for Malloy.
Not only was the use of the campaign funds illegal, but the funds that were used were tainted by the fact that it included donations from state contractors and others who are prohibited, by law, from participating in a Connecticut gubernatorial campaign.
As Connecticut law requires, the State Elections Enforcement began an investigation into the allegation that Malloy violated the law through the illegal use of campaign funds.
But rather than come clean about their activities, or even fight the accusations on the merits, Malloy and the Democrats did what would have once been unthinkable in state that proudly had one of the nation’s premier public finance systems… they spent the past year stonewalling the investigation and obstructing justice.
Team Malloy even refused to abide by an official subpoena issued by the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission.
See: Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee – In plain English it’s called obstructing Justice (Wait, What? 8/3/2015)
In a couple of months, Dannel Malloy will take over as the chairman of the national Democratic Governors Association. The move will put him into the national spotlight.
Yet considering the legal precipice Malloy is sitting on, that light will be murky, at best.
In an article entitled, Court Fight Heats Up Over Subpoena Of Democrats’ Emails About Malloy’s Campaign, Jon Lender recently provided an update on the situation.
The state Democratic party’s latest move in its fight against an investigation by state regulators generated a flare-up this week with the office of the attorney general, as the case has suddenly gained momentum toward a courtroom confrontation on Oct. 27.
Democratic State Central Committee’s lawyer David Golub, filed a revised complaint saying that the SEEC “is prohibited from investigating or imposing sanctions on a state political party” in situations like this one — where Democrats say federal campaign-finance laws “pre-empt,” or supersede, Connecticut’s clean-election laws.
“The SEEC is the state agency empowered to hear and investigate complaints of violations of state election laws,” said Jepsen’s spokeswoman, Jacqueline Falkowski. “The General Assembly has vested the SEEC with broad investigatory powers, and the SEEC unquestionably can investigate a complaint of state election law violations.”
Superior Court Judge Anthony Robaina has set a court hearing for Oct. 27 in Hartford Superior Court in SEEC’s suit against the Democratic Party. The suit seeks to force the party’s state central committee to comply with a May 29 subpoena that the SEEC issued in its investigation of whether Democrats spent money illegally last year to support Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election with mass campaign mailings.
Wait, What? and the Hartford Courant have written multiple stories about the Malloy campaign’s tactics.
Just last week, Ken Dixon at the Connecticut Post added another detailed report about the issue.
In Political campaigns rake in cash despite ban, Dixon wrote;
Connecticut’s clean elections law prohibits those who do business with the state from contributing to the campaigns of politicians who could award or influence state contracts — including the governor and legislators.
But that hasn’t stopped the relentless flow of state contractor cash. It has merely diverted it.
Nearly 25 percent of the money collected in the Democrats’ federal account since January, 2013 has come from more than 460 builders, lobbyists, lawyers and others who are prohibited from contributing to statewide and/or General Assembly races, the investigation has shown.
Of the $4.8 million the Democrats’ federal PAC raised in those 32 months, $1.1 million of it came from businesses and individuals who are on a state list of 5,500 outlawed contributors, according to Federal Election Commission records.
And yet, just days before the election last year, the Democrats raided the fund for more than $318,000 to pay for mass mailings supporting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. This spending is the focus of a Republican complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Committee and a lawsuit filed by Democrats to stop the investigation. The case, in state Superior Court, is headed for trial October 27.
National election watchdogs say the use of the federal account is simply a backdoor system of pay-to-play.
“This is an old game,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at Washington-based Campaign Legal Center. “Strip away the legalese and this money comes from a party that intends to curry favor with public officials. Politicians are just as complicit. Contractors feel like they’re in a shakedown.”
Connecticut’s campaign-finance reforms were created after John G. Rowland, the disgraced former governor, was sent to prison for taking kickbacks from companies that won lucrative tax breaks and contracts.
Michael J. Brandi, executive director of the SEEC, noted it was 10 years ago this month that the bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2005 was signed into law.
“So far it’s been enormously successful and we’re committed to seeing it succeed for a long time into the future,” Brandi said in a statement. “But it’s also had a lot of challenges along the way, and this current lawsuit is another direct challenge to its survival.”
Under the rules of the Citizens Election Program, candidates for governor who want public funding must agree to limit their campaign spending to a set state grant after raising $250,000 in small contributions. Candidates who accept public financing and then take outside money face penalties ranging from fines and forfeiture of their grants to criminal prosecution.
Traditionally, state parties’ federal accounts were not used for state races at all, but only congressional and national campaigns. Democrats last year, however, facing a tough challenge from GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, decided to take the chance and transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars for Malloy’s end-game push.
The Hearst investigation has found that among the big check signers are officials from HAKS Engineers, a major design firm that is banned from contributing to both statewide and General Assembly races. Executives at the New York and Connecticut-based company contributed at least $75,000 to the Democrats’ federal account, including $32,500 from Husam Ahmad, president and CEO, and his wife. HAKS had more than $8 million in state contracts in 2013 and 2014, according to state records.
The owners, employees and families at Viking Construction in Stamford, which has done major state-financed work throughout Southwestern Connecticut, and is also prohibited from donating to statewide and General Assembly campaigns, contributed $77,500 to the federal account. The firm is currently part of a consortium awaiting the go-ahead on a half-billion-dollar contract to rebuild the Stamford train station, led by the JHM Financial Group, whose president, John H. McClutchy Jr. of Darien, and his family, contributed $65,000 since 2013.
Officials from HAKS, Viking Construction and the JHM Group did not return multiple requests for comment. James A. Manafort Jr. president of Manafort Brothers Inc. of Plainville, declined comment on $14,000 in family contributions to the DSCC. The company had 91 state contracts, mostly with the Department of Transportation, in 2013-14, totaling $29.1 million.
The contractors’ contributions are legal. Individuals are allowed to give up to $10,000 a year to the federal account.
But, if any of the $318,000 transferred from the federal account was used to supplement Malloy’s $6.5-million public-financing grant, as Republicans allege and as the SEEC wants to investigate, the state Democrats could have violated the law.
Democrats say the mailing in question was a legal Get out the Vote (GOTV) flyer that happened to feature Malloy and required funding from the federal account. To stonewall the SEEC’s investigation, which would reveal tactics and strategy in their high-stakes campaign fundraising operation, the Democrats filed the lawsuit.
You can read the Connecticut Post’s entire story at Political campaigns rake in cash despite ban
Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Hartford Courant\, Malloy Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Hartford Courant, Malloy
Connecticut’s MUST READ news article of the weekend, in case you missed it, was Jon Lender’s “Delay In Enforcing Subpoena Of Democratic Party Records Raises Questions.”
As Wait, What? readers will recall, in the fall of 2013, it became increasingly apparent that Governor Dannel Malloy and his political operatives were intent on undermining Connecticut’s campaign finance law. The issues began to surface in an October 31, 2013 post entitled, “Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform.”
That article was followed by many more…. (See partial list below)
The inappropriate tactics engaged by Malloy and Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee generated multiple campaign finance complaints and a major investigation by the State Election Enforcement Commission.
In a virtually unprecedented step the Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission issued a subpoena for records and documents related to Malloy’s campaign.
As Jon Lender explained,
The SEEC’s May 29 (2015) subpoena sought records that might shed light on the GOP’s claim that Democrats illegally circumvented the state’s ban on contractor contributions last year by collecting state contractors’ money in a “federal account” and using it to pay for mass mailings on behalf of Malloy.
But instead of complying with the subpoena, the lawyer representing Malloy’s political operation refused to hand over the required documents and they have done everything they can to delay, derail and prevent a fair, open and thorough investigation.
The Governor who will become the head of the Democratic Governors Association in January 2015 is engaged in a blatant effort to obstruct justice.
Jon Lender writes,
“The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted June 25 to go to court to enforce a subpoena that the state Democratic Party has defied rather than hand over the party’s records of communications between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and top aides about allegedly illegal spending in his 2014 re-election campaign.
The SEEC’s extraordinary action generated a flurry of news reports. But now, more than a month later, all the noise has died down and no such action has been filed in state Superior Court.
What’s going on?
Government Watch addressed that question a few days ago to the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen, which has the responsibility of filing any court action in behalf of the SEEC. A Jepsen spokeswoman responded with a written statement saying that although the attorney general’s office is aware of the SEEC’s June 25 vote, it hasn’t yet received a written “referral” that formally requests the court action.”
This would be a good time to say…. What the ______?
When Lender contacted Jepson’s office he got this,
“In response to your inquiry, our office has not yet received a formal referral from the SEEC. We have been in communication with SEEC — though those communications are subject to attorney-client privilege and we are, therefore, unable to provide details of those communications — and we have designated significant staff resources in anticipation of the referral,” said the statement. “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
It would be inappropriate to comment?
The State Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating whether the Democratic State Central Committee broke the law by using money from its “Federal Account” to benefit Dannel Malloy.
Malloy’s lawyer claims that even though the direct mail pieces were all about Malloy they were actually intended to benefit the entire Democratic Ticket – a Democratic Ticket that included Attorney General George Jepson.
However you look at it – the money was either spent to support Jepsen’s colleague – Dannel Malloy – or it was spent to benefit Jepsen … or both!
And Jepsen’s Office is hardly in a position to “lead” the investigation.
One person who is speaking out is Connecticut’s Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano.
It was the Republican Party’s original complaint that led to the investigation into the Malloy campaign’s inappropriate use of the Democratic State Central Committee’s Federal Account.
“Romano said he’s not only been wondering what delayed the court action concerning his party’s pending complaint, but he also questions whether the SEEC should be represented by the office of Jepsen — a former state Democratic party chairman who successfully ran for re-election on the same statewide ticket as Malloy.
By statute, the attorney general represents administrative agencies such as the SEEC in court, unless some actual or perceived conflict of interest results in the hiring of an outside, independent law firm. The SEEC has not asked to be represented by legal counsel outside of Jepson’s office — and such a request would be controversial and probably would be viewed as impolitic.
Romano had no qualms about that, though. “The SEEC is doing the best job they can,” he said, but “the people in charge of this” — the handling of the court case, that is — are all allied and were elected along with members of the same party.”
That party, he said, lately has been “doing everything, at all costs, not to have the public look at their records.”
What is clear is that Democratic State Central Committee and their lawyer, David Golub, are working non-stop to derail the investigation.
As background, Lender notes,
“The Republicans’ complaint was filed after the Democrats sent out mass campaign mailings last October that were dominated by photos and assertions aimed at re-electing Malloy. The mailings also contained some small print telling voters when polls would be open on Election Day and providing a phone number to call to get a ride to the polls.
Democrats said that the inclusion of the small print turned the pro-Malloy mailings into “get-out-the-vote” materials — and that because those get-out-the-vote efforts also would help Democratic candidates for Congress who were on the ballot, the mailings had to be paid for using the party’s “federal account.”
Republicans called that a dodge, saying that state contractors were permitted to contribute heavily to the state party’s “federal account” — and that this was a means for Democrats to pump contractors’ money into campaigns for state offices and skirt the clean-election laws that they once championed. Good-government groups such as Common Cause have agreed.
A month before last November’s election, state Democrats requested a legal opinion from the Federal Election Commission on the legality of their plan to use money from their “federal account” to pay for the Malloy mailings. But within a week or so, they went ahead with the mailings and withdrew their request for the FEC’s opinion.
In June, The Courant disclosed that a draft of the legal opinion had been written at the FEC but had not been approved by the time the Democrats withdrew their request. If issued, it would not have been good news for the Democrats; one of its findings was that the mailings appeared to be part of an attempt to “avoid” and “bypass” Connecticut’s clean election laws.
“It would be absurd,” the draft opinion said, “to allow the [Democratic State Central Committee] to circumvent the anticorruption measures of state law by using a federal law that is intended to prevent circumvention of anticorruption measures.”
You can find Jon Lender’s full story at: http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-lender-democrats-subpoena-delayed-0802-20150801-column.html#page=1
For more about the issue check out the following Wait, What? posts;
Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform (10/31/2013)
Did you see the “For Sale” sign that the Malloy Administration put up? (12/4/2013)
Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party (12/5/2013)
Malloy pulls in $36,000 plus from Connecticut nursing home industry (12/6/2013)
Democratic response to Malloy’s fundraising strategy is absurd and insulting… (12/8/2013)
Lobbyists ponied up more than $95,000 for Malloy campaign operation (1/6/2014)
State Contractors can’t make political donations – oh – except to benefit Malloy (1/15/2014)
Connecticut Democratic Party Leaders: It is okay to lie, as long as it’s to raise money… (1/18/14)
Malloy’s double dipping campaign finance gravy train (4/11/2014)
Malloy political operation sidesteps Connecticut law limiting contributions from lobbyists. (4/19/2014)
Malloy is a fraud on campaign finance reform issues (5/1/2014)
Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut! (9/15/2014)
CT Democratic Chair – The pot that called the kettle black 9/17/2014)
The Democrat’s sanctimonious claims about campaign money (10/7/2014)
Malloy and Democrats are violating Connecticut law with use of Federal PAC funds (10/13/2014)
Breaking News: 3rd Malloy mailing paid for with dirty money arrives in mail boxes (10/19/2014)
Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes
So it’s finally official….
During last year’s gubernatorial campaign Governor Dannel “Read My Lips” Malloy repeated over and over again that he would not propose or accept any tax increases if the voters of Connecticut elected him to a second term in office.
[See 5/6/14 Wait, What Posts – Malloy’s “NO TAX” pledge will send Connecticut into the abyss or 9/3/14 Foley and Malloy are just plain wrong on taxes]
Of course, with the state of Connecticut facing a significant and growing budget deficit this year and a projected shortfall of at least $1.3 billion in next year’s state budget, the claim was never anything other than a hoax.
But hoax or not, Malloy not only stuck to his “no-tax” campaign promise but claimed that there wasn’t even a state budget deficit this year nor would there be a state budget deficit next year.
Well yesterday, the luster surrounding his absurd “no tax” pledge came off as Malloy confirmed that in his state budget address tomorrow he would be proposing to repeal the state law that eliminates the sales tax exemption on clothing costing less than $50, a law that he signed last spring and was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2015.
Malloy told reporters, “There is a reality (that) this is a tough budget. No one is sugar coating that.”
According to media reports, Malloy is still insisting that he is not raising taxes – although in the real world – if you propose a bill that requires Connecticut consumers to pay a 6.35 percent sales tax rate on clothing costing less than $50 — when they would not have done so without that proposal – it is called raising taxes.
But Malloy’s retort is that although consumers will actually have to pay the sales tax on clothing – starting July 1, 2015 – when they would not have otherwise been required to do so – the sales tax rate will drop from 6.35 percent to 6.20 percent on Nov. 1 2015 and will drop again to 5.95 percent on April of 2017, more than two years from now.
According to Keith Phaneuf at the CT Mirror,
“The governor tried to emphasize Monday that his focus on tax relief right now, given the limited resources available to him, “has to be middle-class-centric.”
But last May, when nonpartisan analysts were projecting the same post-election fiscal woes that they are reporting now, the governor was adamant that no taxes would rise after the election.
“I gave at the office,” he quipped, implying that the $1.8 billion in tax hikes he signed to close a big deficit in 2011 were sufficient.
As Phaneuf observes in his latest article, what’s changed?
“Since next year’s projected deficit – $1.3 billion – is the same as it was when Malloy took his no-tax-hike pledge…”
What has changed?
Well, Malloy got himself re-elected and now reality is starting to set in for the Governor and the people of Connecticut..
You can read more at; http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/16/malloy-coy-on-whether-his-plans-add-up-to-a-tax-increase/
Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit Gubern, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit
For those who want a snap-shot about how political power has corrupted Connecticut’s budget process – this is the post. It is a lengthy article but it provides readers with an extremely important understanding of the level of deceit surrounding Connecticut’s fiscal health.
The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf is the state’s leading reporter when it comes to the Connecticut State Budget. His article in last night’s CT Mirror is entitled, “Malloy to order a 2nd round of emergency cuts as deficit swells.” Christine Stuart, of the CT Newsjunkie, also covers the latest news in a piece entitled, “Second Round of 2015 Budget Cuts On The Way.”
As Keith Phaneuf explains;
“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will order his second round of emergency spending cuts in two months as the current fiscal year’s budget deficit reached a new high Tuesday, approaching $121 million.
Eroding tax receipts and other revenues – first outlined in a report last week – added $39 million to a deficit that stood at $32 million on Jan. 1.
But the governor’s budget agency, the Office of Policy and Management, also disclosed Tuesday in its monthly budget report to the comptroller that “deficiencies” — likely cost overruns in various agencies — have grown by another $50 million. And most overspending, by far, involves Medicaid.”
So, immediately after the election, the Malloy administration announced that a state budget deficit of approximately $100 million had suddenly appeared. In response to the news, Governor Malloy identified well in excess of $50 million in cuts to various programs.
Now, a month later, and despite those cuts, Connecticut’s budget deficit has jumped to over $120 million.
In order to fully understand the scheme that was instituted by Governor Malloy and his operation, you must carefully follow the bouncing ball…
Connecticut State Law (Section 4-85 of the Connecticut State Statutes) requires that if the State Budget Deficit exceeds one percent of the appropriated budget, the Governor MUST submit a deficit-mitigation plan to the Connecticut General Assembly. Any proposed cuts in excess of what the Governor is allowed to implement on his own (that is cuts in excess of three per cent of the total appropriation from any fund or more than five per cent of any individual line-item appropriation) requires the approval of the General Assembly.
In order to ensure that there is some degree of honest oversight, it is the State Comptroller and NOT the Governor or the Office of Policy and Management who has the legal duty to determine if a shortfall exists and whether it is in excess of one percent of the general fund appropriation.
To facilitate the Comptroller’s responsibilities, on the 20th of each month, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (Ben Barnes) provides the State Comptroller (Kevin Lembo) with a letter summarizing all the issues related to state revenue and expenditures. The OPM Secretary has the legal obligation to accurately report whether state revenues are up or down from the previous month and whether any state agency is over-spending its budget allotment.
The Comptroller has his own budget experts and both OPM and the Comptroller are also supposed to look at the information provided by the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis to guide their assessments.
Throughout the recent gubernatorial campaign, Governor Malloy constantly and consistently declared that there was no state deficit, nor would there be a state deficit this year (or next year).
Two weeks before Election Day, OPM Secretary Barnes issued his mandatory monthly letter (October 20, 2014) informing State Comptroller Lembo that revenues where on track and that no state agency was spending or would be spending more than their budget.
Although Lembo used his “Letter of the First” to warn about the problems that lay ahead, he certified on November 1, 2014 – five days before the Election – that there was no state budget deficit.
However, the notion that in a General Fund Budget of $17.5 billion, every single line-item was perfect and there would be no overspending in any area was beyond absurd. Traditionally state budget overspending is in the range of $100-$200 million or more.
But with Election Day approaching, Malloy and his operatives stuck by their claim that there was absolutely no state deficit.
However, on October 31, 2014 Keith Phaneuf reported, “Nonpartisan analysts tracking $84M in potential cost overruns in state budget.”
Phaneuf wrote, “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration isn’t projecting any troubles for the current state budget, but the legislature’s nonpartisan analysts have identified almost $84 million in potential problems. The Office of Fiscal Analysis reported “deficiencies” or potential cost-overruns in five areas. Nearly half of the deficiencies, about $40 million, are in the Department of Social Services. Another $27 million involve health care for state employees and retirees. Comptroller Kevin Lembo warned last May that a shortfall in this area was likely because of a projected surge in retirements among state prison guards.”
But with Election Day so close, and the election hanging in the balance, Malloy and his campaign utterly rejected the notion that the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis was correct and they were wrong.
But day’s after Malloy won re-election, the Malloy administration began to divulge the truth.
Eight days after Election Day, Phaneuf reported, “Malloy to order emergency cuts, restrict hires to counter impending deficit” writing,
“To reverse an impending state budget deficit, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has told agencies it will order emergency spending cuts and freeze all-but-critical hiring…In a memo sent late Wednesday to all agency heads, the governor’s budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes also reinforced existing caps on overtime work.”
Nine days after Election Day, Phaneuf reported, “It’s official: CT’s budget is $89 million to $100 million in the red,”adding,
“The state budget received its first official deficit reports Friday when nonpartisan legislative analysts and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration projected shortfalls ranging from $89 million to just under $100 million.
“And while the administration issued the larger of the two deficit forecasts — $99.5 million — budget director Benjamin Barnes, insisted it quickly would be closed, and reasserted Malloy’s insistence that tax hikes are not an option.
“This is consistent with what the administration has been saying,” Barnes said, “that no matter what the projections are, we will manage and administer the budget so that there will be no deficit. It is important to remember that this is a prediction of what would happen now and in the future should we do nothing — and doing nothing is not an option.”
The whole situation revealed the grim political gamesmanship in which Malloy and his advisers were engaged.
Before Election Day – On October 20, 2014 – the Malloy administration’s official letter to Comptroller Lembo said there was no state deficit.
After the election – On November 20, 2014 – the Malloy administration’s official letter to Comptroller Lembo admitted that there was a $100 million state deficit.
And the deceit continued…
On December 20, 2014 OPM Secretary Barnes bragged that the $70 million in cuts instituted by the Malloy administration meant that the State deficit was down below $40 million. According to Keith Phaneuf’s report at the time, “Malloy’s budget chief, Benjamin Barnes, also warned in his last forecast on Dec. 20 that no major growth in state revenues was anticipated at this time. But Barnes also did not project any decline in the state tax revenues and, equally important, Barnes did not identify any additional areas of overspending.
And yet thirty days later – On January 20, 2014 – comes the “stunning” news that revenue has declined and “new” areas of overspending have suddenly been identified.
Now the Malloy’s administration suddenly admits the state deficit has jumped from less than $40 million to almost $121 million, despite the $70 million in cuts – because state revenue is actually down an additional $39 million and state agencies have spent $50 million more than authorized (mostly in the area of Medicaid).
Before the Election – no state deficit.
Within sixty days after the election – that overall problem has grown by nearly $200 million.
The fact is that every state agency has professional staff monitoring their budget on a daily basis.
The Office of Policy and Management has an entire office of professional staff monitoring the state budget.
It is beyond inconceivable that Governor Malloy and his team suddenly discovered the sudden decline in revenue and yet another significant and growing problem with overspending.
But instead of telling the truth, Governor Malloy, his administration and his campaign decided that their best strategy was to lie about the existence of the state deficit and the magnitude of that deficit.
Was their rationale due exclusively to the fact that they wanted to make it seem like Governor Malloy was a good fiscal administrator?
No, the real issue is more complex.
Recall that this blog post begins with the statement,
Connecticut State Law (Section 4-85 of the Connecticut State Statutes) requires that if the State Budget Deficit exceeds 1% of the appropriated budget, the Governor MUST submit a deficit-mitigation plan to the Connecticut General Assembly. Any proposed cuts in excess of what the Governor is allowed to implement on his own (that is cuts in excess of three per cent of the total appropriation from any fund or more than five per cent of any individual line-item appropriation) requires the approval of the General Assembly.
The fundamental problem facing Governor Malloy and his political spin operation was more than simply the truth that a state deficit existed.
The problem was that if they had told the truth – the whole truth – it would have been clear that the size of the budget deficit was greater than $170 million and that put it in excess of the one percent trigger that would have, in turn, required Malloy to develop a public Deficit Mitigation Plan laying out where all the cuts would be taken to eliminate the entire deficit.
While Malloy was proclaiming that if he was re-elected, there would be no tax increases, no cuts in vital programs and no need to approach the state employee unions about concessions, the last thing Malloy and his political team could afford was not only revealing that there was a deficit, but actually detailing where the cuts would take place.
The key constituencies that Malloy needed to win are those that are most likely to be alienated by the type of cuts Malloy was going to implement to balance the budget.
Keeping the fact that there was a state deficit secret was important to Malloy’s campaign strategy, but even more importantly, the Malloy campaign needed to make sure that under no circumstance did anyone discover that the projected deficit actually exceeded one percent of the general fund.
Had that been known, Malloy would have to have laid out an entire plan – a plan that would have been seen as devastating to the very people Malloy needed to win, so it was necessary to stay silent in order to trick them into casting their vote for him.
For that very reason, even when the news of the deficit started to be released (safely after the election), Malloy had to ensure that that it was revealed slowly… in phases… so that it never exceeded that $170 million trigger.
First came the news of a $100 million deficit, which he claimed he “knocked” down with a round of cuts.
Now comes the news of a larger deficit…which he says will bring along a second round of cuts
But holding the news until after the election, and then manipulating when the truth was revealed, Malloy not only made it through Election Day, but has managed to avoid having to produce the required Deficit Mitigation Plan altogether.
Next month Malloy will be announcing his proposed budget for Fiscal Years 2016-2017, but right now he is doing the “happy dance,” knowing that he successfully manipulated the law, and thus was able to trick the people of Connecticut … BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER ELECTION DAY.
And that is why these past two months are a case study about how political power has corrupted Connecticut’s budget process.
Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit
Keith Phaneuf’s lead article in yesterday’s CT Mirror reads, “Malloy doesn’t get predicted revenue boost, big deficits remain.”
“A new analysts’ report Thursday found tax receipts and other revenues still likely to grow as originally anticipated last summer – when major deficits were projected for the next two fiscal years.
That means the governor — who has called those earlier estimates “extremely conservative” – still must close shortfalls topping $1.3 billion next fiscal year and $1.4 billion in 2016-17. Malloy, whose budget plan is due to legislators on Feb. 18, repeatedly has ruled out tax hikes.”
A political campaign dedicated to lying to Connecticut’s voters is in the past, and with the release of the “Consensus Revenue estimates,” Malloy’s Budget Director, Ben Barnes, announced “The revenue estimates for the biennium will be the basis for the Governor’s budget proposal.”
So despite a year of constantly denying the very real looming deficit, the Malloy administration finally admits that the dire “predictions” produced by the Independent Office of Fiscal Analysis are true.
Throughout his re-election campaign, Malloy claimed that not only would tax receipts grow by about seven percent during the next two years, but as the CT Mirror recalls, “Connecticut could expect more, according to the governor. And the revenue from that extra growth would make the deficit relatively easy to manage, provided municipal aid was kept flat and agencies did not receive inflationary spending increases.”
Is the news a surprising development? Hardly…
Here are just a handful of the budget related posts on Wait, What? over the past year;
10-24-14: Can we have a little honesty about Connecticut’s state budget problems?
No, because – That’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works!
Rather than honestly confront the projected $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget and the shortfall of more than $4.8 billion over the next three years, the two major party candidates for governor have decided to simply lie their way to Election Day in the hopes that voters will not discover the magnitude of the fiscal problems Connecticut will face over the next few years.
10-1-14: Forgive them, for they know not what they do – Not!
Both Malloy and Foley say that, if elected, they will not raise taxes, not cut vital services not reduce the state workforce and will not need to negotiate contract changes with state employees.
The notion that such campaign promises could be met is not only laughable but it is a sad commentary on how far from the truth Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates will stray in their ongoing efforts to get elected.
8-13-14: State Deficit? What State Deficit?”
In a recent interview with the CT Mirror, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy said,
“We really don’t have a deficit.”
However, if the truth be told, according to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the State of Connecticut continues to face a monumental fiscal crisis. In fact, here are the projections from the experts for the fiscal years following this November’s election;
Fiscal Year 2016: A $1.4 billion Connecticut state budget deficit
Fiscal Year 2017: A $1.6 billion Connecticut state budget deficit
Fiscal Year 2018: A $1.8 billion Connecticut state budget deficit
Malloy says the Office of Fiscal Analysis is wrong, although he uses their numbers when he complains that he inherited a $3.7 billion state budget deficit from former Governor Rell.
Meanwhile, the cornerstone of Malloy’s campaign is his claim that he won’t propose or accept any tax increases during the next four years, he won’t need to renege on his deal with the state employee unions nor will he have to ask for further concessions from state employees and he won’t cut vital services here in Connecticut.
8-5-14 All is well in the Land of Oz
“We really don’t have a deficit…I know that’s hard to believe.” (Dan Malloy)
Malloy tells the CT Mirror;
- Connecticut doesn’t have a deficit
- There will be no cuts to key services
- There is no need to discuss concessions with state employees
- He will not propose or accept any tax increase during his four years as governor – even to shift the tax burden by making the wealthy pay their fair share so Connecticut can reduce the disproportionate pressure on the middle class.
And how is Malloy going to achieve this incredible feat of having more services, no additional taxes and no deficits? As the CT Mirror explains,
“The governor said he’s confident that both the nation’s and Connecticut’s economy are on the cusp of a major surge.”
7-14-14: Connecticut deserves a government that will tell its citizens the truth
As the CT Mirror explains in the series on where the candidates stand of the state budget, Pelto: State budget deficit reveals a broken fiscal system;
“Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto doesn’t have any trouble standing out from the rest of the 2014 gubernatorial candidates. For Pelto, a $1.4 billion shortfall – more than four years after the last recession ended – typifies a broken fiscal system that threatens Connecticut’s schools, state workers’ pensions, and middle class families.”
6-6-14: Look there goes a flying pig!
The truth is that Connecticut is facing a projected state budget deficit of at least $1.3 billion dollars for the fiscal year that begins after this year’s gubernatorial election.
But today Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy boldly announced… “We don’t face a deficit.”
In a late afternoon CT Newsjunkie story entitled, Malloy Dismisses Deficit Projections, Won’t Ask for More Concessions, the Governor not only explained that the deficit was going to disappear but he took the opportunity to repeat his iron-clad pledge that he will not propose or accept any new taxes in a second term.
As Malloy explained, “There will not be a tax increase.”
And to top things off, Malloy said that he was ruling out asking state workers for more concessions should he be re-elected as Connecticut’s Chief Executive Officer.
While the Governor’s hyperbole is impressive, there is not a state employee, retirees, public school teacher or retired teacher, let alone a public official or taxpayer who believes that Malloy’s portrayal of reality is accurate.
Hearing about Malloy’s remarks, one can’t help but dwell on that classic idiom about pigs flying or the one about Hell freezing over.
5-6-14: Malloy’s “NO TAX” pledge will send Connecticut into the abyss
As a result of Governor Malloy’s gimmick ridden state budget, the candidate who wins the 2014 gubernatorial election will take office facing a projected state budget deficit of $1.3 billion or more.
By using one-time revenues for on-going expenses, purposefully under-funding various government programs and utilizing a series of budget gimmicks, the new 2014-2015 state budget is just about as irresponsible as they come.
The moment Malloy signs it into law he will be creating a budget deficit for this year and a catastrophe in the budget that will follow.
But as irresponsible as Malloy’s latest budget is, nothing compares to the damage that will come with his recent “NO TAX” pledge should he be elected to a second term. Malloy sealed his fate when he recently told reporters that he would, “neither seek nor accept any further tax increases” in a second term.
Pandering to phantom voters, Malloy has engaged in a George Bush “read my lips” moment.
By making an “ironclad” NO TAX increase pledge, Malloy joins the Republican candidates in assuring that the people of Connecticut must live with a tax system that crushes the middle class while coddling the rich.
4-30-14: Post-election state budget deficit projected to be an incredible $1.4 billion
As Wait, What? readers have been reading for months, the Malloy administration has been painting a rosy picture of Connecticut’s state budget situation thanks to the unparalleled use of budget gimmicks and inflated revenue estimates.
Readers have been repeatedly informed that Malloy’s irresponsible approach to budgeting would leave Connecticut with a $1 billion state budget deficit in each of the three years following the November election.
Based on the latest revenue projects, yesterday’s Wait, What? post increased that projected budget deficit to at least $1.2 billion and this afternoon, the Malloy administration, along with the General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, announced that the person who is elected to be governor in November will face a budget deficit of close to “$1.4 billion or 7.4 percent of annual operating costs.”
And the list of articles warning about the fiscal realities facing the state goes on and on and on.
Whether you read Keith Phaneuf’s pieces in the CT Mirror or the news analysis and commentary pieces here at Wait, What?, the message has been the same….Governor Malloy and his administration have been lying to the votes of Connecticut.
And now, months after the campaign is over and just weeks before Malloy presents his 2015 state budget proposal, the governor’s budget office finally admits – Connecticut is facing a budget crisis well in excess of $1 billion.
Campaign Finance, Corporate Welfare, Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Elections Enforcement Commission Campaign Finance Reform, Democratic State Central Committee, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Contractors, State Elections Enforcement Commission
The driving force behind Connecticut’s successful effort to reform its campaign finance system ten years ago was the revelation that disgraced Governor John Rowland had used his position to solicit gifts and campaign donations from state contractors and others who directly benefited from the expenditure of taxpayer funds.
Following its passage in 2005, Connecticut’s new campaign finance law was heralded as one of the strongest in the nation.
Putting aside the way the new law unfairly treated third party candidates, Connecticut’s lawmakers passed, and Governor Jodi Rell signed, a sweeping piece of legislation that systematically outlawed state contractors from making campaign donations to benefit a political candidate.
Whereas John Rowland’s campaign finance reports were filled with the names of major state contractors such as the Tomasso Brothers Corporation, the Gilbane Company and the Manafort Brothers, as a direct result of Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform legislation, every governor and gubernatorial candidate after Rowland would be prohibited from accessing state contractor money.
However, as the final round of campaign finance reports are submitted for Connecticut’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, it is becoming increasingly clear that when it came the prohibition on state contractor donations, Governor Dannel Malloy and his political operation fundamentally violated the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance law and, quite possibly, the letter of the law as well.
As has been widely reported, in addition to collecting the $6.5 million taxpayer funded check from the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the Malloy campaign funneled at least $5.1 million into the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account,” where a significant portion of those funds were used for the exclusive benefit of Malloy’s campaign for re-election.
A review of the list of those who donated that $5.1 million includes dozens of state contractors including the some of the very companies associated with John Rowland’s downfall, including the Tomasso Brothers Corporation, the Gilbane Company, the Manafort Brothers and others whose campaign donations tarnished Connecticut’s reputation and sent a sitting governor to prison.
The role state contractor donations played in the Malloy campaign has received a fair amount of media coverage, such as Jon Lender’s investigative series in the Hartford Courant’s reporting on how top executives at Northeast Utilities donated more than $50,000 to benefit Malloy’s campaign. The head of NU instructed subordinates that they could support Malloy by making their checks out to the Connecticut Democrat’s “Federal Account.” (See details about the NU story via NU Chief Asks Subordinates To Support Malloy By Giving To Democratic Party and Election Agency Probes Legality Of NU Chief’s Solicitation For Malloy.) The latest campaign reports indicate that NU officials helped Malloy by donating at least $56,750 to that Democratic account, as instructed.
But the full extent of the Malloy campaign unethical use of state contractor donations goes well beyond the Northeast Utilities example.
HAKS Engineering of New York collected more than $18 million from the State of Connecticut since Dannel Malloy took office. Some of their work was part of a new contract to inspect overhead power lines on the New Haven Line of Metro North. A May 2014 article in the CT Mirror reported that executives of HAKS Engineering had donated $45,000 to the account the Malloy campaign was using to sidestep Connecticut’s law prohibiting state contractors from giving funds to benefit Connecticut candidates.
In fact, by the end of the 2014 campaign cycle, HAKS executives and their families, along with their related companies, had actually donated about $80,000 the Democrat’s “Federal Account,” including $32,000 from Hasam Ahmad and his wife, $10,000 from Shahida Akhtar, $10,000 from Elliot Gene Sander, and donations in the range of $5,000 or more from other HAKS employees including Franco Balassone, Mahmood Mohammed, Louis Torelli and Mubbashir Rahman.
Another example of the Malloy campaign collecting campaign donations from those who have directly benefited from the Malloy administrations actions is Winstanley Enterprises, the lead developer of New Haven’s Downtown Crossing. The publicly funded project is now home to Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the company that received a $51 million corporate welfare package from the Malloy administration to move to that property. Adam and Carter Winstanley each donated to $20,000 to the Democrat’s Malloy oriented “Federal Account,” while David Winstanley pitched in $10,000 for a total of at least $50,000 from the Winstanley family.
Another key source of campaign funds for the Malloy operation was the law firm of Pullman & Comley whose attorney provided more than $45,000 during the recent campaign. The Bridgeport based law firm has snagged a series of extremely lucrative contract with various state agencies including the Attorney General’s Office, the State Treasurer’s Office, the University of Connecticut, the State Airport Authority and the Department of Transportation. Since Malloy became governor, the firm has collected in excess of $2.7 million and that doesn’t even count the money billed in this fiscal year.
Yet another example is the one the CT Mirror noted in their May 2014 article where they wrote, “The Simon Konover Company, which the state pays $4.7 million annually to rent 55 Elm St. in Hartford, is up to $51,000 in donations, with $30,000 from three executives last month on top of $21,000 last year. Its tenants include the attorney general, treasurer and controller.” As the Malloy’s re-election campaign came to a close, the total raised from those directly associated with the Simon Konover Company reached $71,000.
And what about those big construction companies that were so generous to John Rowland. The Malloy operation also managed to collect donations from officials the Tomasso Brothers Corporation, the Gilbane Company and the Manafort Brothers Company. The Manafort Brothers Company led the pack with $22,000 in donations.
Check back tomorrow for even more examples of the role state contractors inappropriately played in Malloy’s re-election effort.
Foley, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Joe Visconti, Malloy, Pelto Foley, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Pelto, Visconti
With Malloy and Foley having now spent in excess of $30 million to destroy each other and mislead voters, the crushing weight of the corrupt, entrenched and out-of-touch political system has claimed another victim. Earlier today, petitioning candidate Joe Visconti has dropped out of the race of governor and endorsed Tom Foley. If you feel comfortable with the major party candidates, I urge you to vote accordingly on Tuesday, Election Day. However, for those who believe we deserve better or want to send a message to the power elite, I invite you to darken in the bubble that says Write-in Candidate for Governor and then write in the name Pelto or Pelto/Murphy.
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone,
you will cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
— John Quincy Adams
When assessing the last four years and examining the positions taken by Malloy and Foley during this year’s gubernatorial campaign, the truth is that no matter who wins on Tuesday, the burden to do what is right for the people of Connecticut will rest in the hands of a Democratic legislature. They will either rise to the occasion or they will not. So for those mulling over whom to vote for… If you believe that our elected officials need to stop their unwarranted assault on teachers and the teaching profession, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe the state must derail the Common Core and its unfair, expensive and discriminatory Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe we must push back the corporate education reform industry that seeks to privatize our public schools and replace them with unaccountable charter schools that refuse to educate their fair share of Latinos, students who face language barriers and children who require special education assistance, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our government must stop coddling the rich and reduce the tax burden on the middle class by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our state must put an end to the outrageous use of corporate welfare and stop giving our scarce taxpayer resources to wealthy corporations, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe that those elected to office must settle the critically important CCEJF v. Rell school funding lawsuit and develop a fair and constitutional school funding formula that will end the pressure on local property taxpayers, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe the time has come to demand that those in office must stop using budget gimmicks and adopt a fair, honest and effective state budget that truly reduces the long-term debt that will destroy our children’s opportunities, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you feel that we must rid the political system of tainted campaign money and hold those who have violated the spirit and law of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws accountable for their actions, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our citizens deserve access to an affordable system of public colleges and universities and you oppose what have been the deepest cuts in history to UConn, CSU and our community colleges over the past four years, feel free to write in the name Pelto. Or if you simply feel that enough is enough and that our political leaders have lost their way, feel free to write in the name Pelto for Governor. Because sometimes standing up and being counted is what is most important. And if you intend to write in the name Pelto, please take a moment over the next 48 hours to urge your friends, families, colleagues and neighbors to do the same.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
Campaign Finance, Corporate Welfare, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy Campaign Finance Reform, Corporate Welfare, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy
With Election Day almost upon us, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy used the past week to continue his massive “Corporate Welfare” Program.
On Wednesday, Malloy delivered a $10 million dollar Corporate Welfare Check, on behalf of Connecticut’s taxpayers, to General Dynamic’s Electric Boat division to help the company renovate a building in Groton that had been vacated by Pfizer.
While most Connecticut taxpayers are still struggling under the weight of the Great Recession, General Dynamics is on track to pull in another $32 billion in revenue this year. Thanks to the nation’s never-ending war effort, the defense giant has generated revenues in excess of $294 billion over the past ten years. The company is doing well enough that they even paid their new CEO $18.8 million last year. (For those that are keeping track, that would be nearly double what Connecticut taxpayers handed the company this week.)
On Thursday, the company receiving Malloy’s taxpayer funded largess was Fuel Cell Energy Inc. Fuel Cell Energy only collected $188 million in revenues last year, but that was up from just $70 million in 2010. Malloy is giving the company $20 million in taxpayer funds so that they can expand their Torrington facility rather than have to rely on private investors.
And on Friday, Malloy was in Danbury, this time with a Corporate Welfare Check for $32.5 million to help Praxair fund their new corporate headquarters.
Praxair’s revenue last year was about $12 billion, enough to pay their CEO a salary and compensation package of 26.5 million, “earning” him the #33 spot on Forbes list of highest paid executives. Praxair’s CEO has been paid more than $70.1 million over the past five years.
Of note is the fact that while Malloy was giving away taxpayer funds, Connecticut’s Office of Fiscal Analysis announced that the Malloy administration is overspending this year’s state budget allocation by at least $88 million. It is grim news and reflects the reality that Connecticut will be facing a major budget deficit next year.
But the fiscal problems facing that state didn’t deter Governor Malloy from giving away $62.5 million more in corporate welfare, and that doesn’t even count the tens of millions of dollars in other checks he handed out this week to private corporations.
In return for all this money, Malloy says that Electric Boat and Praxair have promised to create a total of 330 jobs over the next five years, while Fuel Cell Energy has agreed to create 160 new positions and keep those jobs in place for at least 4 years.
Meanwhile, on the campaign finance front, it is undoubtedly a coincidence that all three of these financially successful companies have generously donated to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “federal account.”
The campaign contributions from General Dynamics, Praxair and Fuel Cell Energy are just a tiny fraction of the $4.3 million that Malloy and his political operation have raised from state contractors, people who have benefited directly from Malloy’s corporate welfare program, federal Political Action Committees and other wealthy individuals.
While many believe that state law clearly prohibits these funds from being spent to benefit a state-level campaign, Malloy and his campaign have been using the Democratic Party’s “federal account” to pay for his campaign mailings and other campaign expenses, allowing him to augment the $6.5 million Malloy received in public funds from the Connecticut Public Financing Program.
It all leaves one wondering what the “True Capitalists” would think of this world in which public funds are used to subsidize private activities that help ensure corporate officers and investors can get a better return on their private investments?
Of course, as Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors has observed,
“Waste is the highest virtue one can achieve in advanced capitalist society.”