Malloy’s Connecticut – Ripping off Connecticut while keeping citizens in the dark

When Dannel Malloy was running for re-election in 2014 he collected a $6 million+ taxpayer funded Clean Campaign grant from the state of Connecticut with the promise that he would not solicit, accept, coordinate or use private funds to benefit his campaign.

In the following months, not only did he benefit from more than $5 million from an account funded by the Democratic Governors Association, AFSCME and AFT, he and his political operatives directly raised another $5 million, much of it from state contractors, lobbyist and people who have benefited from Malloy’s outrageous corporate welfare program.

The law was clear, if you take money in addition to the state grant, you lose the state grant.

That is, if you take money, you must pay back the $6 million in public funds.

Earlier this week, Malloy’s Democratic Party agreed to a settlement with the Connecticut State Elections Commission in which they paid a fine of $325,000 – or 5 percent – of what the taxpayer were owed.

Fair?

When it comes to Malloy, fair and proper are two terms that simply aren’t used.

In a stunning, courageous and insightful commentary piece, followed by a CT Mirror story, the lead investigator for the State Elections Enforcement Commission – Charlie Urso –  now retired – explains some of the issues that took place behind the scene.

Charlie Urso’s commentary piece – Malloy campaign law settlement was a mockery and a sham and the CT Mirror’s article – Investigator says Malloy settlement keeps voters in the darkis a MUST READ for those who really want to about Malloy and the modus operandi that permeates his operation.

While some of the details won’t be new for Wait, What? readers, the two pieces shed critically important light on what has happened to Connecticut under Malloy’s reign.

In Investigator says Malloy settlement keeps voters in the dark, the CT Mirror Reports;

Not too many investigators have Charles Urso’s resume:

He investigated two governors of different parties in different decades for different agencies, first as an FBI agent and then as an investigator for the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Near the end of his FBI career, he helped send Republican Gov. John G. Rowland to prison in 2005. He said Thursday his second career as an elections cop ended in frustration – getting stonewalled trying to find out if Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy violated campaign finance reforms inspired by the Rowland scandal.

The investigation of whether Malloy and the Democratic Party circumvented Rowland-era reforms – a ban on state contractor contributions and strict contribution limits attached to a voluntary system of public financing – ended Wednesday with a settlement.

Without admitting wrongdoing, the party will pay a record $325,000 over 27 months to settle allegations of impropriety involving use of state contractor contributions that flowed through a federal campaign account to support the 2014 re-election Malloy, who accepted $6.5 million in public financing through the Citizens’ Election Program.

Urso said he understands why his former employer took the deal. Democrats challenged an SEEC subpoena with a legal argument that could have neutered the commission’s enforcement authority, saying federal law largely pre-empted the commission in federal election years – which happen to also be state election years.

But he complained that Democrats succeeded in stopping an examination of how Malloy’s campaign and the party systematically raised money from contractors – as much as $10,000 at a time – in a so-called era of “clean elections.”

At the time of the settlement, the commission and the Democrats were awaiting a decision by a Superior Court judge on a motion to compel the party to honor the SEEC subpoena, which demanded bank records, emails and other documents pertaining to fundraising.

In an interview and an article published on CT Mirror’s commentary website, CT Viewpoints, Urso said Malloy and the Democrats made a sham of the Citizens’ Election Program, the system of publicly financed campaigns created in 2005 after Rowland resigned and went to prison.

“The settlement was made without allowing SEEC the ability to conduct a reasonable investigation. Despite public pronouncements of cooperation, they made a mockery of the investigation,” Urso wrote. “In response to SEEC requests, they only provided 300 pages of evidence before they refused to cooperate including ability to interview witnesses. The last time I investigated a Governor, I reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents.”

The documents were sought to shed light on about $1 million in spending through the federal account maintained by the Democratic State Central Committee. Some of the money was used to hire staff who laid the groundwork for Malloy’s re-election campaign.

Federal law requires the federal account to be used for get out the vote efforts when there are federal offices at stake, even if those same efforts also serve candidates for state office.

But federal and Connecticut campaign laws are contradictory. State law bans contractor contributions and provides public financing to candidates who agree to accept donations of no more than $100 and abide by spending limits, while federal law permits contractor contributions to the parties’ federal accounts, up to $10,000.

When Malloy accepted the $6.5 million public grant, his campaign already had benefitted from the federal account, some of which came from contractors prohibited from giving directly to his or any other state campaign.

“The paperwork he signed certified he had not and would not receive contributions from prohibited sources,” Urso wrote.

David S. Golub, who clashed with Urso while representing the Democrats, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the governor had no comment, referring all inquiries to the Democratic Party.

Michael J. Brandi, the general counsel and executive director of the commission, defended the settlement Wednesday, saying the Democrats agreed to rules that resolve a significant conflict in state and federal election law and it ended litigation that could have produced a court ruling curtailing the ability of state regulators to enforce campaign reforms enshrined in the Citizens’ Election Program.

The settlement lays out new accounting rules and other restrictions intended to keep campaign money prohibited by state law out of state campaigns. The party also dropped its claim that federal election law pre-empts the commission from issuing subpoenas to investigate alleged potential violations of state elections law.

Urso’s voice was only one of those heard Thursday.

“This is great news for the integrity of our elections,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, the president of Common Cause. “The settlement affirms that candidates for governor and the legislature cannot accept aid from companies doing business with the state; that was the intent of the law that we and our allies worked so hard to pass after the scandals of the Rowland administration.”

Hobert Flynn conceded there may be some who were frustrated that the Democratic Party was not found to have violated state law, but a protracted legal battle wouldn’t have ensured the integrity of the Citizens’ Election Program.  She said the deal sends a message that states can pass and enforce campaign finance laws that are tougher than federal law.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, strenuously disagreed.

“The settlement contains nothing innovative or groundbreaking. All this settlement says is that the state Democratic Party now promises to follow current state law – the same law they should have been following in the first place,” Fasano said. “The SEEC trying to sell this agreement as a creative and innovative approach is a slap in the face to those they are supposed to protect by defending transparency and enforcing the law.

“It’s an excuse for the obvious reality that they rolled over to the state Democratic Party and accepted a payoff instead of doing their job.”

In a statement issued before Urso released his opinion piece, Fasano said the commission owed the public a full investigation, making the same point as the retired investigator.

“If the SEEC was going to try to settle this case without a ruling, then they shouldn’t have wasted taxpayer resources to take it this far all to end up making a deal without knowing all the facts,” Fasano said. “They should have waited for a ruling, and a complete investigation, so that we could have a real, enforceable resolution.”

You can read and comment on the original story at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/06/16/investigator-says-malloy-settlement-keeps-voters-in-the-dark/

You can read Charlie Urso’s commentary piece, Malloy campaign law settlement was a mockery and a sham, at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/06/16/connecticut-campaign-law-settlement-was-a-mockery-and-a-sham/

 

 

Malloy and Wyman collect public employee political donations – then stab state employees in the back – go figure.

The wave of state employee layoffs that are taking place in Connecticut is a disturbing reminder about how Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman approach electoral politics.

Having promised their support for public services, public employees and collective bargaining, the two neo-liberal politicians had their hands out during their last campaign to collect literally millions of dollars in donations from public sector employees.

However, once safely ensconced back into office for a second term, the dynamic duo have proposed, promoted and implemented the deepest cuts in state history to public services, a hatchet job that includes a new strategy of laying off significant numbers state employees.

It has been thirteen years since Connecticut has seen a governor laying off large numbers of state employees.  That time, disgraced former Governor John Rowland’s disastrous and illegal 2003 purge of state employees ended up costing Connecticut taxpayers about $100 million in back pay and penalties.

As the Hartford Courant reported in January 2016, State Begins Paying $100M Tab For Rowland Layoffs, Including Estimated $15M to Law Firm,

“State officials will spend most of 2016 paying an estimated $100 million tab for last year’s settlement of a long-running federal lawsuit by unions over Gov. John G. Rowland’s 2003 layoff of more than 2,000 state workers. The taxpayer money has already started flowing.”

David Golub, the attorney representing state employee unions and the state employees impacted by that round of layoffs is collecting a tidy $15 million to 17 million in scarce public funds for winning the case.

Now Golub is the lawyer working to help the Connecticut Democratic Party derail an investigation by the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission into the $6 million plus slush fund that the Democratic Party used to – illegally – (allegedly) – support Malloy and Wyman’s  2014 re-election campaign.

At issue in the Malloy/Democratic Party case is the fact that in addition to collecting their $6.2 million public finance subsidy to pay for their re-election, the Malloy/Wyman political operation knowingly and intentionally coordinated and benefited from the activities of two other political committee accounts, each of which raised millions and millions of dollars.

One entity was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and other account, the one that appears to have violated Connecticut law, was run through the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Claiming to be “friends” of unions, public employees and public services, Malloy and Wyman played a role (it seems) in helping to raise money from public employee unions into the coffers of the two extra political committees.  Those union funds came directly from the pockets of public employees.

Now, of course, state employees and others who are paid with public funds are learning the true cost of putting their trust in charlatans and deceivers.

Connecticut Forward was the name of the Super-PAC that was set up by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to support Malloy’s 2014 campaign.  (Malloy is now Chairman of the Washington D.C. based group.)

As initially reported by Wait, What? in 2014 and then re-examined in an article published less than two months ago and entitled, Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again, Malloy’s political operation and that Super-PAC relied heavily on the generosity of the public employee unions.

When they were running for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were all smiles as they accepted the political endorsements from Connecticut’s state employee unions and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

When Malloy and Wyman wanted the unions to fork over money to help pay for their re-election campaign, union leaders stepped up big time.

Using hard-earned money collected from their members, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was set up to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.

During the same period, Malloy and Wyman’s political fortunes were further enhanced thanks to more than $160,000 in union donations to the special account that was set up by the Democratic State Central Committee and used to pay for Malloy’s direct mail program.  Those contributions included $10,000 from AFT, $10,000 from NEA, $5,850 from SEIU, $5,000 from AFSCME and $1,800 from CEIU.

Even the Working Families Party got into the act, moving $25,000 in union funds to the Connecticut Forward Super-PAC.

Now, seventeen months later, although Malloy and Wyman knew that difficult times were ahead and chose to remain silent, public services are being destroyed and state employees are being laid off.

And to those who would dismiss the underlying issue by claiming Malloy is simply taking the financial actions that are needed to balance the state budget, one need only remember that another major source of the campaign cash for the Malloy/Wyman re-election effort was the charter school industry and their pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher education reform allies.

In Malloy’s world of “shared sacrifice,” will proposing the deepest cuts in state history to public schools, Malloy has actually proposed adding to the $100 million a year that is already being handed over to the privately owned and operated charter schools, all while he remains committed to forcing Connecticut’s children to suffer under the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scam and then using the results of that flawed testing system to evaluated teachers.

Finally, while Malloy and Wyman make incredible cuts to public services, they remain committed to an agenda of coddling the rich and opposing any reasonable efforts to make the wealthy pay their fair share.

As Malloy and Wyman institute policies that push even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers, Connecticut is already in a situation in which the poor pay about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, yet the state’s wealthiest only pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

The legacy is becoming very clear.  Cut vital services, layoff public employees, make Connecticut’s regressive tax system even more unfair and continue to make a mockery of the promises and pledges of their  2014 re-election campaign.

Malloy-Wyman take one last step to destroy open government and campaign finance oversight

Since taking office five years ago, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration have done just about everything they could to shut down access to government information and undermine Connecticut’s once prominent campaign finance reform law.

Their primary target for their attacks have been the independent “watch-dog” agencies.

In their latest and perhaps most stunning move, the dynamic duo of Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman have proposed a state budget that would effectively put an end to the Freedom of Information Commission, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and the State Ethics Commission.

As the Journal Inquirer’s Mike Savino reports in his latest article entitled, Ethics office, FOIC, SEEC say budget cuts would render them useless;

The state’s watchdog agencies Friday warned lawmakers that cuts in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget would render their agencies essentially useless.

 “We have already been cut to the bone — we cannot deal with any more cuts,” State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi told the legislature’s Appropriations Committee during a public hearing Friday.

Malloy’s budget proposal would cut a combined $891,983 from SEEC, the Freedom of Information Commission, and the Office of State Ethics — the three biggest of the nine so-called watchdog agencies that operate under the Office of Government Accountability.

[…]

Brandi, though, said the proposed cut comes after years of reducing allocations to his and other watchdog agencies.

SEEC received roughly $5.14 million from the general fund in the 2012 fiscal year, when Malloy created the OGA and consolidated the watchdog agencies.

[…]

Officials with the FOIC and ethics office sounded similar alarms, saying they, too, would be unable to fulfill their missions if lawmakers adopt Malloy’s budget.

Ethics Executive Director Carol Carlson said her agency is a small office with a highly-skilled staff that is “called upon to engage in multiple aspects of the division’s business, and each employee has multiple roles that impact our core services.”

Carlson warned that a reduction of just three employees — in an agency of 15 — means it no longer would be able to provide adequate training and legal advice to state workers, enforce the state’s ethics code, or process lobbyists’ disclosures that bring in $600,000 annually in revenue.

Like Brandi, the other agencies say cuts since 2012 have left them unable to absorb further reductions.

[…]

“The commission’s case docket has increased dramatically over the past several years, while its staff and funding have been greatly reduced due to consolidation and budget cuts,” FOIC Executive Director Colleen Murphy said.

Tom Swan, the executive director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group, made the issue crystal clear in his testimony to the Appropriations Committee;

“This appears to be a backdoor way to undermine the independence of these vital agencies.”

Meanwhile the Malloy administration continues their campaign to dismantle what is left of honesty and openness in Connecticut state government.

Dannel Malloy – Stonewalling an investigation by Connecticut’s 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….

Malloy Campaign’s effort to obstruct justice faces court appearance on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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.

Generous contributors

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

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

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.

Connecticut Democratic Party hit with campaign finance complaint

For months questions have been swirling around State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo, Governor Malloy and the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee about the role they played during the September 2013 Bridgeport Board of Education Democratic Primary

The Democratic State Central Committee diverted an unprecedented $40,000 in state party funds to support Mayor Bill Finch’s pro-corporate education reform industry slate against a challenge from a slate made up of pro-public education Democrats.

Although State Party fundraising efforts consistently promise that donations to the State Party will be used to defeat Republicans, the State Party donated $20,000 to the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, the day before the primary, to pay for the endorsed slate’s get-out-the-vote canvass operation.  Democratic State Central Committee spent another $20,000 on direct mail and other campaign services for the losing slate.  All of these funds were used in a failed attempt to defeat fellow Democrats.

Despite repeated requests for information about this debacle, Democratic Party officials have not only refused to come clean on how the $40,000 was diverted from the State Party to a losing local Democratic Primary battle, but the Connecticut Democratic Party has also failed to address who paid for two key campaign expenditures.

Finch’s losing slate benefited from a public opinion message testing poll of Bridgeport voters that was conducted at the beginning of the campaign.  Although a message testing poll of this nature would cost $20,000 to $35,000, the expenditure does not show up in the campaign finance reports submitted by the Connecticut Democratic Party, the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee or A Better Connecticut (the pro-corporate education reform industry political action committee that also poured money into the race in support of Finch’s candidates).

In addition, a well-known opposition research company out of Oregon was hired to investigate the members of the Democratic challenge slate, the Working Families Party candidates and their key supporters.  The professional research company’s efforts included investigating the opposition candidate’s personal and family backgrounds.  Some of that information was then sent anonymously to reporters in the days immediately preceding the Democratic Primary.

Although a professional opposition research report of this nature can cost $25,000 or more, there is absolutely no expenditure for opposition research in the campaign finance reports submitted by the Connecticut Democratic Party, the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee or A Better Connecticut.

While the unethical diversion of $40,000 in Democratic Party funds is outside the purview of the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, the failure to report the $45,000 or more in expenditures on behalf of the losing slate would be a significant violation of Connecticut law and pursuing that violation would definitely be a task for the Elections Enforcement Commission.

I filed the complaint last month and it has now been designated as File No. 2013-179.

Check back for updates as the complaint moves forward.

In the meantime, you can read more about the details in the following Wait, What? posts.

Connecticut Democratic Party Chair fails to explain – Why did the Party divert 40k to fight pro-public education Democrats in Bridgeport Primary? (12/10/13)

Time for the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee to come clean about spending (12/3/13)

Malloy/Finch/Vallas lose in Bridgeport but questions remain about role of State Democratic Party (11/6/13)

Did you make a contribution to the Democratic State Central Committee? (11/4/13)

State Democratic Party (quietly) dumps $20k into losing Bridgeport slate (10/18/13)

Connecticut Democratic Party subsidizes Mayor Finch’s Bridgeport Board of Education Slate (9/6/13)

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

Thanks to the changes in Connecticut’s campaign finance system that were initiated and signed into law by Governor Malloy, corporate education reformers Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson each wrote $10,000 checks to Connecticut’s Democratic Party this year.

It is hardly the first time that Sackler and his wife, Mary Corson, have ponied up for Governor Malloy.

Over the past two years Malloy has attended fifteen (15) fundraisers for a political action committee named Prosperity for Connecticut PAC.  Three of these events were held in Washington D.C., three in New York City and the rest here in Connecticut.

The most successful Prosperity for Connecticut fundraising event was held at the home of Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson. (See Wait, What? post: Malloy affiliated Political Action Committee cashes in on education reform bill).  The event raised nearly $50,000 and donations came from education reform industry leaders from around the state and country.    The  event was held on the day Malloy’s education reform bill became a Connecticut Public Act.

Jonathan Sackler was also an initial donor and Board member of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company co-founded by Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.

Sackler also formed ConnCAN, ConnAD and 50CAN, all major corporate education reform advocacy groups.

Last year, at the last moment, Sackler wrote a check for $50,000 to help pay for Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s failed attempt to change the Bridgeport Charter to do away with a democratically elected Board of Education and replace it with one appointed by Finch.

In recent days, various Connecticut media outlets have been writing about Connecticut campaign finance issues.

The CT Mirror posted an article entitled, “CT GOP, Democrats joust over Malloy’s fundraising,” while CT Newsjunkie published “Heavy Hitters Ride to the Rescue For Dems Under New Fundraising Rules.”

The controversy surrounding Malloy and the Democrats is hardly a new one.

In a Wait, What? story last June entitled, “Malloy, legislature continue to water-down Connecticut’s “landmark” campaign finance laws,” readers were informed that;

“This year, Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the legislature made their most dramatic and audacious effort, to date, to undermine the law.

And they succeeded…with Malloy signing the new bill into law yesterday.

At a time when the public understands that campaign money plays too much of a role in American politics, Malloy and the Democrats took significant steps to reverse earlier limitations on campaign donations and spending.

As a result of the new law, significantly more money will be spilling into Connecticut campaigns.

Among other things, the law doubles the amount campaign donors may contribute to political parties and actually removes the cap on how much political parties can spend on publicly-financed candidates.

The most incredible new development is that the law now allows a candidate to help raise money for a political action committee that will later spend that money to support the very candidate who helped raise it.

As reported here at Wait, What? and elsewhere, Governor Malloy has held at least 15 fundraisers for a political action committee called Prosperity for Connecticut.  Under the old law, there were severe limitations on how that committee could spend its money, ensuring that its primary purpose was not to support any affiliated candidates.

The new law changes that system completely.

Malloy can now help a Super PAC raise unlimited amounts of money and that PAC can then spend that money to support Malloy.”

Now Malloy is capitalizing on his successful efforts to undermine Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

In its most recent campaign finance story, the CT Mirror writes,

“Emboldened by looser campaign-finance rules and a rainmaking governor, the Connecticut Democratic Party is raising money nearly three times faster for the 2014 election than it did four years ago in preparation for 2010. At the same time, Republican fundraising is stagnant.  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a first-term Democrat up for re-election next year, is aggressively headlining his party’s fundraising, utilizing a law passed this year by the Democratic state legislature that raised donor limits and allows the state parties for the first time to make unlimited expenditures to support candidates for governor and other state offices.”

The CT Mirror further explains, “The Democratic Party, which dominates the General Assembly and holds every statewide and congressional office, has raised more than $1.5 million since January in its state and federal campaign accounts, compared with $566,530 over the same period four years ago. And the numbers do not reflect proceeds from Malloy’s most recent fundraising efforts, a series of events a week ago in California.”

The power of the Malloy driven changes can be seen in that, “Of the $1.5 million raised this year by Democrats, $430,000 came from a roster of donors who wrote $10,000 checks, the maximum allowed by law. Those donors include top executives of the state’s largest utility, the company that manages state athletic venues, a major state landlord, a provider of state parking services and developers of a major real-estate project supported by state assistance.”

While the CT Mirror story reports that “Brian McAllister of New York, the chief executive of a ferry company that has urged the state to build a new terminal in Bridgeport, wrote two $10,000 checks, one for the party’s federal account and another to its state account,” the story fails to make reference to the fact that Malloy is collecting campaign checks from people like McAlister in a number of was.

A December 2012 Wait, What post highlighted the rest of the story by noting, “15+ family members and employees of a New York tug boat towing and ferry boat company give to Malloy PAC.

In fact, many of the $10,000 checks to the Democratic State Central Committee come from people who attended one of the 15 fundraisers held by the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC.

Following the Rowland scandals, Connecticut passed some of the most far-reaching campaign finance reforms in the country.  Our law was a model for how the people could take back their democracy.

Since then Governor Malloy, with the help of the Democratic controlled legislature, has been destroying and undermining Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance laws.

We are well on our way back to becoming the “pay to play” state that ended up with a governor in jail.

Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee’s “missing” campaign finance report

As required by law, in the days leading up to Bridgeport’s recent Democratic Primary for Board of Education, all the various campaign committees filed their campaign finance reports.

That is all the committees filed their required reports except for one…

The Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, the committee chaired  by Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa, failed to file the campaign report that state law demands must be filed by the 7th Day Preceding the September 10, 2013 Primary.

The various political committees that supported the challenge Board of Education slate fulfilled the law.

And all but one of the various political committees that supported the endorsed Board of Education slate fulfilled the law.

But interestingly, the committee controlled by Mayor Bill Finch, the committee that actually nominated the endorsed slate, the committee that has kept its troops in line in their unending support for Bridgeport’s faux superintendent; Paul Vallas… that committee couldn’t even be bothered to meet the most basic requirement of Connecticut’s campaign finance law.

The law is incredibly simple and incredibly direct;

As the notice on the State Elections Enforcement Website reads;

“IMPORTANT NOTE: Effective January 1, 2012, filings sent by mail are no longer considered timely if postmarked by the filing deadline date – they must actually be received by the Commission’s offices by 5:00 p.m. on the filing deadline date in order to be deemed timely.”

Connecticut’s campaign finance reporting laws have been on the books for decades.

The law is there to ensure that voters and observers have a chance to see who is funding whose campaign before the actual votes are cast.

And the only group who failed to fulfill the law was the political operation dedicated to keeping Paul Vallas in the superintendent’s office despite the fact that a Connecticut Superior Court has ruled that Vallas does not have the credentials to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut.

As we know, the endorsed slate was crushed in the Bridgeport Democratic Primary.

This coming Monday, September 21, 2013 Paul Vallas and his taxpayer funded lawyers will go before the Connecticut Supreme Court in a last desperate attempt to sidestep Connecticut state law.

It seems especially apropos that that when Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Moales Jr. and the Bridgeport Democratic establishment join Governor Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, in cheering on Paul Vallas’ attempt to illegally hold onto his job…

The rest of us know that these elected officials and politicians can’t even be bothered to follow the most basic provision of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

Connecticut’s House Republicans step forward to protect open, fair and accountable government

If you found that hard to read, imagine how hard it was to write…

But it is true.

Last week, the leader of the House Republicans blasted Governor Malloy’s plan to undermine Connecticut’s watchdog agencies.

Representative Cafero observed that Governor Malloy’s budget proposal is, “…an attempt to undermine the public’s right to know what is going on within government.” 

Cafero added, “Investigations into campaign finance fraud, ethics complaints and Freedom of Information challenges will fall by the wayside if this proposal goes forward.’’  

While Democratic leaders remained silent or tip-toed around the issue, the House Republicans stepped forward to speak the truth.

The independence of Connecticut’s watchdog and good government entities is under assault.

What are these good government entities?

In 1974, following the Watergate scandal, the Connecticut General Assembly created the State Elections Commission (Public Act 74-213) to “ensure the integrity of the state’s electoral process.”

In 1975, Connecticut passed one of the most far-reaching Freedom of Information Acts in the nation and created the Freedom of Information Commission (Public Act 75-342) to “ensure citizen access to the records and meetings of public agencies in the State of Connecticut.”

And in 1977, the General Assembly formed the Connecticut State Ethics Commission (Public Act 77-600) to “promote the highest ethical standards and accountability in state government by providing education and legal advice, ensuring disclosure, and impartially enforcing the Codes of Ethics.”

In each case, the commissions and offices were set up to be bi-partisan or non-partisan entities, independent of any inappropriate political influence from the administrative or legislative branches of government.  The laws were designed to protect each entity’s fundamental mission to oversee Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, Connecticut’s freedom of information laws and Connecticut’s ethics laws.

Over the years, although Connecticut’s laws were already some of the strongest in the country, state government expanded and strengthened its good government statutes even more, further ensuring open and fair elections and government. 

In 2005, Connecticut adopted a Citizens’ Election Program, considered the “most sweeping public campaign finance program in the country. “

Then, in 2011, Governor Malloy proposed merging the government watchdog agencies into a single entity called the Office of Governmental Accountability.

While the Connecticut General Assembly revised Malloy’s original proposal to allow the various watchdog entities to retain some independence, the legislation, (Public Act 11-48) created the position of Executive Administrator, a position appointed by the governor.  The job of the Executive Administrator was to “provide consolidated personnel, payroll, affirmative action, and administrative and business office function.”

In this way, the Office of the Governor was given far greater reach into the day-to-day operations of the independent, government watchdog agencies.

However, as the Office of Governmental Accountability’s website notes, even today, each entity within the Office of Governmental Accountability “retains its independent decision-making authority, including for budgetary and employment decisions.”

But just a couple of weeks  ago, as part of his proposed state budget, Governor Malloy and his OPM Secretary, Ben Barnes, proposed doing way with that independent budget and employment decision-making authority.

As Representative Cafero explained, “All these watchdogs we rely on to ensure the rights of individuals and root out government fraud and mismanagement would fall under authority of an appointee of the governor. We will be losing any autonomy in these units.’’

Considering Connecticut’s long standing commitment to good government and independent watchdog agencies, the Governor’s decision to make this unprecedented power grab is beyond belief.

But that is exactly what Governor Malloy has done…

And to date, only the Republican legislators have stood up to say they will fight to put an end to Malloy’s proposal.