Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee – In plain English it’s called obstructing Justice

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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.

Lender adds,

“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)

Ya know that “no tax pledge” I made during the campaign, well I lied! – Surprise

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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/

Just how deceitful can Malloy be on Connecticut’s budget deficit – here’s how!

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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.

OMG!  You mean Connecticut really does face a budget crisis?

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Keith Phaneuf’s lead article in yesterday’s CT Mirror reads, “Malloy doesn’t get predicted revenue boost, big deficits remain.”

The news…

“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.

Go Figure…

State Contractors can’t make political donations – oh – except to benefit Malloy

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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.

Breaking News: Visconti Drops Out, Endorses Foley

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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.

WRITE- IN V1

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Another Big Week for Corporate Welfare in Connecticut

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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.”

The “Malloy Factor” in Connecticut’s 2014 race for governor

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In March 2013, 43 percent of Connecticut voters reported that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy deserved to be re-elected, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

Nearly twenty months later, after Malloy, Foley and their supporters have spent about $30 million promoting their candidate and attacking their opponent, the Q-poll reports that 43% of Connecticut votes intend to vote for Dannel Malloy next Tuesday.

Over all of this time, Malloy has never exceeded 43 percent of the vote, despite spending the past year and a half as Connecticut’s Chief Executive Officer and having spent approximately $16 million on his re-election campaign, ($6.5 of which came in the form of a grant in taxpayer funds from the State Elections Enforcement Commission.)

Over the same period, Malloy’s Republican opponent, Tom Foley, has spent almost as much.  (Including his own $6.5 million grant in public funds.)

What will go down as Connecticut’s most expensive and nastiest campaign for governor has had no statistical impact on the level of Malloy’s support among Connecticut voters.

While Tom Foley may get the award for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, the real credit for Malloy’s predicament is Malloy himself.

The most accurate thing may be called the primary issue in Connecticut’s 2014 race for governor the “Malloy Factor.”

In April of this year, I published a Wait, What? blog entitled, “The growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election.” The article highlighted the issues in which Governor Malloy was failing the vast majority of Connecticut voters.  It focused on Malloy’s record of support for corporate education reform and his anti-teacher agenda, on his decision to make the deepest cuts in state history to our colleges and universities, on the issue of tax fairness, on the massive amount of corporate welfare, on the growing level of government secrecy, on his failure to engage in honest and sound budget practices and on his inappropriate treatment of Connecticut’s front-line state employees.

Five months later, I published a more focused list that was titled, “Why Connecticut Teachers SHOULD NOT VOTE for Governor Malloy.  This Wait, What? commentary piece outlined the most important areas in which Malloy has failed Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates, including his 2012 proposal to repeal tenure for all public school teachers and collective bargaining rights for teachers working in Connecticut’s poorest schools, his unwillingness to de-couple the teacher evaluation program from the use of unfair and inappropriate standardized testing, his  failure to settle the critically important CCEJF v. Rell school funding lawsuit, his excessive support for unaccountable charter schools and his ongoing commitment to the Common Core and the related Common Core testing scheme.

With Election Day 2014 in sight, Malloy and his political operatives have done a particularly good job of demonizing Tom Foley, although, as noted, the credit for that probably goes as much to Foley as it does to the Malloy campaign.

While it appears increasingly likely that Malloy will win re-election in an environment in which more than 50 percent of voters have a negative opinion of him, it is particularly incredible that he has been completely and totally unable to increase his level of support among voters beyond that 43 percent mark.

And the credit for that rests exclusively with Dan Malloy and his advisers.

Although Malloy has known for his entire term in office that far less than 50% of Connecticut voters have ever felt he deserved re-election, he and his administration have continually failed to successfully address the very issues that are of most concern to the majority of Connecticut voters.

Whether driven by utter arrogance or a total inability to listen to the people, a review of the issues laid out in the two blogs ­– “The growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-electionand “Why Connecticut Teachers SHOULD NOT VOTE for Governor Malloy” show that Malloy has steadfastly refused to address a single one of those issues.

Many Democrat and unaffiliated voters remain extremely put off by Malloy’s support of the corporate education reform industry and his anti-teacher agenda, his decision to make the deepest cuts in state history to our public colleges and universities, his tax policies that coddle the rich at the expense of the middle class, his on-going commitment to give scarce public funds to extremely successful corporate entities, his disdain and disregard for Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, as well as for the state’s Freedom of Information and Ethics policies, his failure to engage in honest and sound budget and his inappropriate treatment of Connecticut’s front-line state employees.

Malloy’s problem with what should be his base is so severe that according to this week’s Quinnipiac survey, 1 in 5 Democrats are not even voting for him and only one in three unaffiliated voters say they will be voting for Malloy on Election Day.

As the 2014 campaign comes to an end, the real question is whether the Malloy Factor will be enough to keep Malloy from winning a second term as Connecticut’s governor.

Democracy Hypocrisy

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Here we are, a week to go until Election Day and despite the fact that at least 50% of Connecticut voters have a negative opinion of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, he may very well be on the verge of winning re-election with 43% of the vote.

With the “finish line” in sight, the news is full of reports that Republicans are continuing to condemn third-party candidate Joe Visconti for being a “spoiler.”  These “political leaders” are demanding that Visconti get out of the race.

This, while Malloy has been uncharacteristically going out of his way to complement Visconti for his willingness to stand up and be honest about his beliefs.

Despite Malloy’s apparent public “endorsement” of Visconti’s 3rd  party challenge, my recent blog post informing people how they can write in my name for governor has generated a new round of emails and nasty comments from Malloy supporters blasting me for threatening to be a “spoiler.”

All in all it is a wonderful and terrible commentary about the shallowness of principle that guides our establishment political parties and those who blindly follow their lead.

It would appear that as far as leadership of the Democrats and Republicans are concerned, a spoiler is anyone who has the audacity to utilize their fundamental American right to participate in our democracy — if that person might possibly reduce the number of votes their establishment candidates might otherwise get.

Connecticut’s Ralph Nader once observed that the word spoiler is a “politically bigoted term.”  Nader went on to note that those who condemn 3rd parties believe that,

“All of us who think that the country needs an infusion of freedom, democracy, choice, dissent should just sit on the sidelines and watch the two parties own all the voters and turn the government over to big business?”

Or perhaps the outspoken populist, Jim Hightower, put it even better when he wrote,

“So now is the time, more than ever, for those who truly value all the principles of democracy especially including dissent, to be the most forceful in speaking up, standing up and speaking out.”

Here is a message for those who support Malloy or Foley, but claim to believe in democracy…your hypocrisy is showing.

Dissent does not undermine democracy.  In fact, dissent is essential to democracy.

Or as Frederick Douglas said,

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Instead of blaming Visconti or myself for their lack of public support, Malloy and Foley should be looking in the mirror and contemplating the fact that significantly more voters dislike them than like them.

Malloy’s “Final Destruction” of Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Reform Law

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s has finally succeeded in his effort to utterly destroy Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Reform Law.

In stark contrast to Malloy’s action this year, the Democratic Party has long claimed that eliminating the inappropriate influence of tainted political donations has been one of the its most important values.  Over the years, unions and progressive organizations have made campaign finance reform a cornerstone of their political agenda.

But in just one term in office, Governor Malloy and his political operatives have managed to undermine and now destroy Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law of 2005.

Following the downfall of Governor Rowland, Connecticut adopted a nationally-recognized campaign finance reform law that provided political candidates with public funds, as long as they refused to take any additional money from political action committees, companies or individuals that do business with the state, large donors or any other special interests.

In his earlier campaigns, Malloy claimed to be a champion for campaign finance reform, but as a direct result of loopholes proposed by Governor Malloy and approved by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly, Malloy has left the spirit and the letter of Connecticut’s campaign finance law in shambles.

Not only has Malloy taken the $6.2 million in public funds for his re-election campaign this year, but he has also inappropriately tapped into nearly $4 million in tainted money that has been laundered through the Democratic State Central Committee and another $3.5 million that has been funneled through a political action committee associated with Malloy’s campaign.

Malloy’s final blow to Connecticut’s commitment to “clean elections” came with the news that the Connecticut Democratic Party has sent out a “mass mailing to promote Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election with money raised for federal congressional campaigns — even though state regulators have denounced the plan and the Federal Election Commission hasn’t yet said whether it’s legal.”

The details surrounding the Malloy campaign’s latest maneuver can be found at CTNewsJunkie Democratic Party Goes Forward With Malloy Mailer and the Hartford Courant at Democrats Send Controversial Pro-Malloy Mailing Without Waiting For Feds’ Opinion

What is particularly revolting about Malloy’s action it that it allows him to use money that comes directly from people who have state contracts or who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program.  By using money from the Democratic State Central Committee’s “federal account,” Malloy is also utilizing funds that came from Federal Political Action Committees, a source of money that we never allowed even in the Rowland and pre-Rowland era of pay to play politics.

Malloy’s attitude is either that the law simply doesn’t apply to him or that “the end justifies the means,” no matter how immoral those political actions may be.

As Jon Lender notes in his article,

The SEEC [State Election Enforcement Commission] sent a 10-page letter Tuesday to the FEC saying the Democrats’ mailing would undermine state clean-election laws passed after the 2004 corruption scandal surrounding then-governor Rowland. Those clean-election laws included a ban on state contractors’ money in election campaigns, which was supposed to keep special-interest money out of state elections

But rather than do the right thing, Malloy and the Democrats sent out their mailing using money from state contractors and other organizations that were banned as a result of Connecticut’s campaign finance reform legislation.

Dannel Malloy has turned Connecticut’s once prominent position on campaign finance reform into a joke.  Proponents of clean elections, including Democrats, union members and progressives should be ashamed by Malloy’s actions.

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