Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has deposited his check for $6.2 million from the State’s Public Finance System.

As a result of Connecticut’s landmark 2005 campaign finance reform bill, in return for raising $250,000 in contributions of under $100, Malloy (and the Republican nominee for governor) have each received $6.2 million in public funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.

The original concept, which passed following the conviction of Governor John Rowland in 2005, was that in return for a multi-million dollar campaign donation from the public, candidates would agree to forgo private funds raised from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees, the wealthy and other special interest.

But that was before Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly torpedoed the most important elements of the law.

Now, in addition to the $6.2 million in public funds, Malloy and his political operatives have collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign into the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account, much of it from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.   The political maneuver was made possible thanks to a proposal Malloy and the Democrats pushed through in 2013.

In addition, a “separate” political action committee called Connecticut Forward, has already raised $2.5 million to run ads in support of Malloy and against his opponent, Tom Foley.  To date, about $1.3 million of Connecticut Forward’s money has come from the Democratic Governors Association, $900,000 from the AFSCME union and $250,000 from the American Federation of Teachers.  In the coming weeks, the Connecticut Forward PAC is expected to raise another $3-$5 million or more in their effort to promote Malloy’s campaign.

So how on earth did we go from having one of the “best” campaign finance reform laws in the nation to a campaign in which Malloy gets $6.2 million in public funds, while accessing another $10 million or more in campaign donations including money from state contractors and others who personally benefit from the governor’s policies.

While a portion of the blame rests with the unprecedented Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, in which companies were determined to be people for the purposes of campaign finance laws, Connecticut’s present campaign laws, along with their appearance of corruption, rests on the shoulders of Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Legislature.

A June 1, 2011 Wait, What? post entitled, “Oh…Remember When Democratic Leaders were for Campaign Finance Reform,” observed, “Democrats Complete the Task of Undermining the State’s Public Finance Law.”  And yet the worst was still to come.

As background, back on January 27th, 2010, when then-candidate Dan Malloy spoke out after a Zogby public opinion survey found that 79 percent of Connecticut voters supported public financing and the Citizens’ Elections Program, Malloy said;

“In my view, this poll should serve as proof of just how strongly Connecticut voters feel about campaign finance reform, and as a warning for those candidates who think they can brush aside the Citizens’ Election Program…”

At the time, Malloy was echoing the sentiment of Democratic Party leaders.

Following the passage of Connecticut’s historic campaign finance law, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan wrote;

“Almost 230 years ago, the founding fathers took a huge risk when they signed the Declaration of Independence and set the wheels in motion for the world’s greatest democracy. Today, this historic campaign finance reform legislation reaffirms that this is a government for the people, not special interests. This campaign finance reform bill is our declaration of independence. We can look our constituents in the eye and say we created the strongest campaign laws in the United States.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams’ rhetoric was equally impressive, with an official biography that read,

“Since his election as Senate President, Senator Williams has been a leading advocate for cleaning up government. He authored legislation to reform the State Ethics Commission and supported sweeping changes to the campaign finance system and the state contracting process. With the creation of a publicly funded campaign finance system in 2005, Connecticut now has the strongest reform laws in the nation.”

But when candidate Dan Malloy became Governor Dannel Malloy, the official view and strategy when it came to campaign finance reform changed dramatically.

In Malloy’s first budget, the new governor took aim at the State Elections Enforcement Commission by reducing its funding, its autonomy and its authority.

At the time, State Senator Gayle Slossberg, the only Democrat to vote against Malloy’s plan, was quoted as saying, “I just think that the proposal in front of us undermines the independence and the integrity of the [State Election Enforcement Commission and the other] watchdog agencies,”

But Malloy’s effort to undermine Connecticut’s campaign finance law had just begun.

As the 2013 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to a close, Malloy and the Democrats passed legislation that allowed candidates to keep the public campaign finance funds while opening the flood gates to tainted campaign contributions.

The bill doubled the amount of money private donors could give to political parties, removed the cap on how much political parties could spend to support candidates participating in the public finance system and created a massive loophole by allowing candidates, in this case Malloy, to better coordinate their activities with political parties and other political action committees.

The anti-campaign finance reform bill did not get a single Republican vote in the State Senate or House of Representatives.  On June 19, 2013 Malloy signed the legislation into law, which in turn, prompted former Governor Jodi Rell to observe;

“After a dark period in our state’s history, Connecticut became a role model for the nation with … our campaign finance reform. How sad that the Democrat governor, Democrat legislators and the Democrat Party are so greedy for campaign cash that they would willingly destroy what we so proudly enacted just a few short years ago.”

At the time, few fully appreciated how the legislation would change the political landscape, but you can read more about the Democrats successful effort to destroy Connecticut’s campaign finance law in the June 2013 CTNewsJunkie article entitled, “Malloy Signs Bill Changing Campaign Finance Reforms of 2005.”

Now, with just weeks to go in the 2014 gubernatorial election, laws have been changed to the point that instead of having $6.2 million, the Malloy campaign effort will probably spend in excess of $16 million to try and get a second term in office.

Of course, thanks in no small part to the same changes in the law, Tom Foley and the Republicans will be spending an equally obscene amount of money.

Finally, as Wait, What? readers know, the entire system is also rigged against third-party candidates.  Meaning in this campaign finance war of mutually assured campaign destruction, they only candidate not double and triple dipping, while still using taxpayer funds is third party candidate Joe Visconti.

So let’s hear it!  Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

Even More Corporate Education Reform money flows to Malloy’s political operation

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The latest federal campaign finance reports are in and Governor Malloy’s political operation continues to rake in the cash from those associated with the effort to privatize Connecticut’s public schools and undermine Connecticut’s teachers.

As a result of Connecticut’s campaign finance program, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is on track to collect $6.2 million in public funds to pay for his 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

But thanks to a loop-hole in Connecticut law, the Malloy campaign has already diverted nearly $2.2 million in individual and political action committee donations into an account controlled by the Democratic State Central Committee.  Malloy is rounding up donations to this Democratic account so that his team will have additional money to supplement Malloy’s publicly funded campaign this year.

The campaign finance loop-hole is so large you could drive a truck through it.  As a result, much of the money that Malloy and his team has raised into the separate account is coming from individuals and businesses who have state contracts, as well as, from registered lobbyists, political action committees and special interests that would otherwise be banned from contributing to Malloy’s campaign.

One of the most “generous” sources of money for Malloy’s “off-line” political operation has been the corporate education reform industry.

The latest report filed with the Federal Elections Commission reveals the proponents of Malloy’s “education reform” initiative continue to line up to give the Governor campaign donations.

New contributions in March included,

  • Another $20,000 from Jonathan Sackler and his wife.  Sackler helped Stefan Pryor create Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company.  Sackler also founded ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group and 50CAN, a national charter school advocacy organization. 
  • Sackler and his wife have now given $38,000 to the Democratic Party “special” account and another $20,000 to the Connecticut Democrats regular account.  In addition, Sackler hosted a fundraiser that brought in almost $50,000 for the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee. 
  •  $10,000 from Susan Mandel, the spouse of billionaire Steve Mandel.  Mandel is the primary supporter of the Bridgeport charter school advocacy group called Excel Bridgeport, Inc. and serves on the national board of directors of Teach for America.  Mandel and his wife have now contributed $30,000 to the Democratic account that is being used to fund Malloy’s political operation. 

These new contributions to help Malloy come on top of tens of thousands of dollars in additional donations that have been sent by other key players from the corporate education reform industry. For example, Michelle Rhee’s PAC and the Wal-Mart PAC have already sent large donations to boost Malloy’s re-election chances.

You can read about the other donations in the following Wait, What? posts,

Corporate Education Reform Industry pours money into Malloy campaign operation (Feb 2014)

Malloy’s campaign donation haul from corporate education reform industry tops $70k (Dec 2013)

Malloy continues to cash in on Education Reform initiative (Nov. 2013)

Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform (Oct. 2013)

Weekend Posts on Gubernatorial Campaign 2014

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On Governor Malloy:  Malloy political operation sidesteps Connecticut law limiting contributions from lobbyists.

Limiting the financial influence of lobbyists was one of the most important elements of Connecticut’s post-Rowland campaign finance reforms.

In its final form, Connecticut law states that,

“…lobbyists and their immediate families may make qualifying contributions of up to $100 like any other individual, but only when the legislature is not in session.”

The law means that as candidate for Governor, Malloy could only accept checks for up to $100 from a lobbyist and COULD NOT accept any funds during the legislative session.

But that law didn’t stop Governor Malloy and his political operation from collecting well over $32,000 from Connecticut lobbyists during the past eighteen months.  More than $10,000 of those funds was collected during the legislative session, despite the complete ban on lobbyist donations during that period.

So how did Malloy’s political operation do it?

As noted previously here at Wait, What?, a gigantic loop-hole built into the campaign finance system allows the sitting governor to divert money to one of the Democratic Sate Central Committee’s campaign accounts, even during a legislative session.

This loophole allowed more than 25 of Connecticut’s top lobbyists to sidestep Connecticut law and reward Malloy’s political aspirations with contributions in excess of the $100 limit over the past year and a half.

Even Governor John Rowland’s former chief of staff, who is now a lobbyist, got in on the act by providing the Malloy political operation with a campaign contribution —- right in middle of the 2013 legislative session.

And on a Pelto candidacy for governor:  Saw it on the Internet so it must be true… (No, but…)

After an email exchange [Friday], Neil Vigdor, a leading reporter for the Hearst Media Group, put up a blog post entitled, “Malloy gets “Pelto-ed” from the left?”

As the saying goes, take the story with a grain of salt.  Like much of what we read on the Internet, aspects of the story are true while other elements aren’t quite so accurate.

What the story does represent is the growing concern that many of us have about Governor Malloy’s record over the past four years and his extraordinary failure on a number of fronts.

A direct challenge, either as a Democrat or as a third-party, independent Democratic is just one of many options for those of us who truly believe that another four years of a Malloy administration would be disastrous for a variety of reasons – one of those reasons being our on-going effort to push back the corporate education reform industry and the pressing need to retake control of our public schools.

So….let me be perfectly clear, I am not a candidate for governor (at this time).

The Hearst Media Group blog post begins with the following;

Just when the denizens of Connecticut thought the debate over Common Core was caustic.

Now there’s this.

Jonathan Pelto, a relentless opponent of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education agenda and former state representative, is entertaining a run for the state’s highest office, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers has learned.

The 53-year-old from Storrs, who has expended significant bandwith on his “progressive” blog and on Facebook railing against Malloy, could run either as a Democrat or a third party candidate, a person familiar with Pelto’s thinking told the newspaper.

“We are looking at a variety of options,” Pelto told Hearst by email Friday afternoon.

A campaign spokesman for Malloy, who is considered by political pundits to be vulnerable in the midterm elections this November, declined to comment on the prospect of a Pelto candidacy.

On his blog, “Wait What?” Pelto penned an April 13 entry titled “the growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election.”

“Malloy’s “education reform” legislation has earned him the title of the most anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-charter school Democratic governor in the nation.”

The Malloy Campaign Money Machine: Whatever you do, don’t call it pay to play!

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More big money for Malloy campaign operation from contractors who got state funds…

As the website Raising Hale continues to reveal, contractors who benefited from the Malloy administration are coming through with hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions for Malloy’s re-election operation.

But whatever you do, don’t call it “Pay TO Play.”

“Pay AFTER Play” maybe, but let’s be clear, the generosity these contractors are showing the Governor Malloy re-election effort WASN’T because they WANTED to get state funded work, they are SIMPLY saying THANK YOU for the state funded work they did received.

Now that is a WHOLE different thing… (please note the satire)

DOT preferred developer brings 2013 gifts to Democrats up to $90,000 with December contributions  (From the Raising Hale Website) February 1, 2014 by Zachary Janowski

The joint venture selected by the Department of Transportation to redevelop part of Stamford near the city’s train station gave $90,000 to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s federal account last year, including $32,500 in December.

DOT selected Stamford Manhattan Development Ventures in June to take charge of the $500 million project, including $35 million in state funding for parking garages.

Weeks after DOT told the joint venture it won, the family behind JHM Group, which belongs to the joint venture, gave $30,000 to the Democratic Party’s federal account.

Since the company is a prospective state contractor, its executives are prohibited from giving to the party’s state account, but are allowed to give to the federal account.

Executives from other joint-venture partners, including Ciminelli Development and AllPro Parking, gave another $27,500 in November.

In December, Paul Ciminelli and Dennis Penman, executives at Ciminelli Development, gave $2,500 and $10,000, respectively.

John and Raymond Gizzi, of ECCO III Enterprises, Inc., another joint-venture partner, gave $10,000 each last month, bringing the total to $90,000.

For more go to: http://www.raisinghale.com/

Connecticut Democratic Party Leaders: It is okay to lie, as long as it’s to raise money…

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The question bothering a number of Democrats these days is what happened to our political party? 

We all know it takes money to run effective campaigns, but Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee is reaching new lows when it comes to misleading potential donors in their effort to raise funds.

Last week, Democratic State Central Committee Chair Nancy DiNardo sent out a blast email to donors and Democratic activists requesting a “contribution to our 2014 Early Action Fund. A $15, $10 or $5 contribution will ensure the Party is ready to support Democratic candidates at every level this fall and beyond.

This from the same individual who apparently played a leading role in diverting $40,000 in State Party funds to pay for Mayor Bill Finch’s failed attempt to elect the “endorsed” pro-corporate education reform industry slate against a Democratic challenge slate that was committed to dumping education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas and ending the effort to privatization Bridgeport’s Schools.

The money had been raised with the promise that it would be used to “support Democratic candidates” and yet it was actually spent on trying to defeat pro-public education Democratic candidates.

When repeatedly asked about the apparent violation of party rules and the waste of $40,000 that should have been used to fight Republicans, Democratic State Central Staff refused to respond.

When the Wait, What? post was sent to State Central Committee members and local Democratic Town Committee Chairs, one state central committee member wrote back, “Stop the bull shit,” a Democratic Town Chair responded “What is your point?” and two others asked to be removed from the mailing list…despite the fact that as Democratic State Central and Democratic Town Committee members they actually hold elected positions under Connecticut law.

Then today along came another blast email from the Connecticut Democrats. 

This one came from the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s Executive Director.  Jonathan Harris wrote, “Tuesday marks the 4-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision. While Super PACs and Tea Party groups are gearing up to target Connecticut Democrats in 2014, the Connecticut Democratic Party is building our Grassroots Organizing Program. It’s the only way we can compete.

Now we need you. Every $3, $5 and $12 contribution adds up to something big. Contribute to our Grassroots Program, and tell the Koch brothers and Karl Rove that in Connecticut, our elections are not for sale

A powerful and convincing statement…

Except it comes from an organization that is engaged in a widespread “pay to play” scheme to funnel tainted money from state contractors and other politically connected companies to the Democratic State Central Committee’s “federal account” as a way to by-pass Connecticut laws that restrict those types of contributions.

Malloy and his advisors may claim that the in a world in which the “end justifies the means,” it is necessary to fib a little or a lot to persuade Democrats to donate to the Democratic Party.

But the fact remains, the blast emails from DiNardo and Harris are misleading at best and outright lies at worst.

These and other Democratic Party officials are not doing the Party or the cause any favors when the create an environment in which a growing number of Democratic Party members realize that they are taking the Democratic Party in the wrong direction.

For more background on the diversion of $40,000 to influence a Democratic Primary for Board of Education in Bridgeport see Wait, What? posts: Connecticut Democratic Party hit with campaign finance complaint (1/8/14);  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)

For additional background on Malloy’s “Pay to Play” fundraising strategy see the following Wait, What? posts, Malloy’s Steelpointe Harbor corporate welfare package; the gift that keeps giving; Malloy’s Campaign donation controversies continue to grow; Malloy’s campaign donation haul from corporate education reform industry tops $70k; Malloy pulls in $36,000 plus from Connecticut nursing home industry; Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party; Democratic response to Malloy’s fundraising strategy is absurd and insulting…; Meanwhile…..John Rowland? No Dannel Malloy; Did you see the “For Sale” sign that the Malloy Administration put up?; Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform;

The following Raising Hale blogs are also very informative: DOT contractor gave $30,000 to Connecticut Democrats weeks after; Employees, family of DOT contractor gave $45,000 to Conn. Democratic Party last month; NU employees step up giving to Conn. Democratic Party; New Board of Regents chairman and wife maxed out to party weeks before selection; Democrats continue to collect donations from DOT preferred developer; Did employees of DOT contractor attend NYC fundraiser with Malloy?

Connecticut Democratic Party hit with campaign finance complaint

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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’s Steelpointe Harbor corporate welfare package; the gift that keeps giving

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This past September, Governor Malloy and the State Bond Commission approved $31 million in taxpayer funded subsidies for the development of a Bass Pro Store and other improvements to support the Steelpointe Harbor development project in Bridgeport. 

 

Malloy’s corporate welfare package came on top of $11 million in Federal funding, various subsidies from the City of Bridgeport and an undisclosed amount of previous state grants for the project.  Much of the latest funding will come from bonding schemes that will require taxpayers to not only pay the principal but the interest associated with borrowing those funds.

The site will host a Bass Pro Shop.  Commercial and residential space is planned for future phases of the project.

According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, even before the State Bond Commission voted on September 27, Malloy’s “investment” of taxpayer was already paying dividends.

In the days leading up to the vote, Florida residents Robert Christoph Sr. and his son, Robert Christoph Jr., the two principal owners of Bridgeport Landing LLC and Mark Summers, the project’s manager, sent in checks to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account”  for $1,000, $1,750, $7,250 and $10,000.

Another projected major beneficiary of the Steelpointe Project is the Bridgeport – Port Jefferson Steam Boat Company.  Just a week before Bridgeport Landing LLC officers and employees sent in their $20,000, New York resident Brain McAllister, the President, Vice President and Director of the Bridgeport – Port Jefferson Steam Board Company sent in his check for $10,000 to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account.”

McAllister is also an officer in McAllister Towing and Transportation, Inc.

Last year at least 15 family members and employees of McAllister Towing and Transportation Inc. donated to the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut political action committee.

As the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender wrote at the time;

“Executives and others with ties to a major New York-based tugboat and ferry business made about $11,000 in contributions this year to a political action committee run by a friend of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — a PAC that Malloy has helped to raise more than $200,000 in its 18 months of existence.

State campaign finance records show that at least 15 contributions — mostly at the maximum annual amount for an individual, $750 — were made in May and September to the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC by people with ties of employment or kin to Capt. Brian A. McAllister of New York City. He is the head of McAllister Towing and Transportation Co. and the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co., which operates the ferry between those two ports.”

Unlike the donations in 2012 that went to a political action committee, this latest round of campaign money is being deposited in to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account”

The donations appear to be part of a strategy in which Malloy and his political operatives are raising money to augment the $3 million dollars or so that Malloy would receive from Connecticut’s public financing system.

By funneling campaign donations into the Democratic Party, the Malloy campaign will be able to implement an “independent” campaign to support the Governor’s re-election efforts.

While directed donations are illegal under Connecticut state law, the Malloy Team is relying on a loop-hole in the federal law that they apparently believe allows them to raise money for Malloy’s benefit as long as it flows through the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “Federal Account.”

In yet another story originally reported by Jon Lender, the CEO of Northeast Utilities sent out an email earlier this year instructing his top corporate officials that they could support Malloy’s re-election effort by donating money to the Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account.”

As the media and bloggers such as Raising Hale have reported, the Connecticut Democratic Party has raised tens of thousands of dollars over the last few months from companies doing business with the State of Connecticut.

You can read more about the Steelpointe Harbor Project in an article written by Ken Dixon and Brian Lockhart at: http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/State-approves-22-million-TIF-bond-for-Bass-Pro-4850398.php

You can read Jon Lender’s article about the McAllister donations to the PAC affiliated with Governor Malloy at: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-lender-column-pac-contributions-1209-20121208,0,1249593.column

And you can read more about Malloy’s campaign donation strategy in the following posts:

Malloy’s Campaign donation controversies continue to grow

Malloy’s campaign donation haul from corporate education reform industry tops $70k

Malloy pulls in $36,000 plus from Connecticut nursing home industry

Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party

Democratic response to Malloy’s fundraising strategy is absurd and insulting…

Meanwhile…..John Rowland? No Dannel Malloy

Did you see the “For Sale” sign that the Malloy Administration put up?

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

The following Raising Hale blogs are also very informative:

DOT contractor gave $30,000 to Connecticut Democrats weeks after

Employees, family of DOT contractor gave $45,000 to Conn. Democratic Party last month

NU employees step up giving to Conn. Democratic Party

Malloy’s Campaign donation controversies continue to grow

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Governor Malloy’s fundraising operation continues to raise serious legal and ethical issues that harken back to the “pay to play” tactics of disgraced Governor John Rowland.

In addition to a number of reports that state contracts have side-stepped Connecticut law and donated to Malloy’s re-election plans via the Democratic State Central Committee’s “federal account,” comes news that at least one contributor has actually violated the ban on donations from those doing business with the state by giving $10,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee’s “state account.”

Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post has a breaking story revealing that, “In apparent violation of state election law that restricts contributions by state contractors, the CEO of the company that operates the XL Center and Rentschler Field recently gave $10,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee.”

Edward Snider of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania donated $10,000 to the Connecticut Democrats.  Despite the fact the Snider is defined as a state contractor under Connecticut law, the Democrats took the contribution.

Dixon adds that, “On Friday, Snider’s company, Global Spectrum, is scheduled to receive $1.8 million from the State Bond Commission for improvements to the 40-year-old XL Center…”

According to Dixon, Global Spectrum’s annual contract to run the XL Center is about $720,000 a year and the State of Connecticut has already authorized at least $35 million to fix up the facility.

Meanwhile, as the CT Newsjunkie noted in another news story, when Governor Malloy spoke to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce yesterday he was introduced by yet another recent campaign donor.  This time it was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Yankee Gas Services Company, Rodney Powell whose $1,500 check was part of a bundle of more than $50,000 in campaign donations that arrived from Northeast Utilities.

Asked about the controversy, Malloy responded in truly classic Malloy fashion saying;

“I’m not a candidate for governor. Who might, or who might not support me, or who supports Democratic causes, or who might not support Democratic causes are [questions] probably best directed toward them.”

The Connecticut Post article can be found here: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Contractor-s-contribution-questioned-5052380.php.

The CT Newsjunkie story here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/democratic_donor_introduces_malloy_at_breakfast/?utm_source=CTNewsJunkie.com&utm_campaign=2e8234e15a-MCP534_Dec_10_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a493d2308d-2e8234e15a-92878945

Malloy’s campaign donation haul from corporate education reform industry tops $70k

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An updated review of the latest federal and state campaign finance reports reveal that Governor Malloy has collected in excess of $70,000 in campaign contributions from individuals associated with the corporate education reform industry.

Although Malloy has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election next year and he has not filed the necessary paperwork be a candidate, his fundraising operation is in full-swing and the corporate education reform industry has become one of, if not the, largest sources of campaign cash for his political aspirations.

Since Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union education reform bill of any Democratic governor in the nation, the corporate reform industry has spent more than $6 million lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s initiatives.  One education reform group, A Better Connecticut, which was formed by the present and former CEOs of ConnCAN spent in excess of $2 million television advertisements “thanking” Malloy for his leadership in promoting charter schools and the privatization of public education.

Malloy has also been going to the corporate education reform industry for campaign contributions.

Last year Malloy, a held a lucrative fundraiser for the Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee at the home of Jonathan Sackler, the corporate executive who helped finance Achievement First, Inc., ConnCAN, 50-CAN and other education reform organizations.  The fundraiser netted in excess of $40,000 for the Malloy related PAC.

This year the money from the corporate education reform industry has been funneled through the federal and state accounts of the Democratic State Central Committee.

Malloy’s recent contributions include another $20,000 from Sackler and his wife, at least $15,000 from other members of ConnCAN’s Board of Directors and at least $11,000 from members of Achievement First’s Board of Directors.  Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, co-founded Achievement First, Inc. and the larger charter school management company has received a major increase in funding since Pryor took over the State Department of Education.

In addition to large contributions from ConnCAN and Achievement First board members, Malloy has collected $10,000 from billionaire Steve Mandel who serves on the TFA Board of Directors and $8,000 from billionaire Eli Broad who is one of the three largest funders of the corporate education reform industry.

According to the various reports it appears that Malloy has collected at least $70,000 for his various campaign related PACs and Committees from the charter school and education reform industry.

Democratic response to Malloy’s fundraising strategy is absurd and insulting…

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Over the past month, Governor Malloy’s strategy for raising money for his potential re-election bid has become increasingly clear. 

Not only does he intended to take the millions in public financing but he is seeking to augment that amount with millions more in donation from those who do business with the state, have received funds from the Malloy administration or hope to ingratiate themselves with Malloy or his inner circle.

One of the most offensive examples came to light recently when the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender reported that the CEO of Northeast Utilities had emailed his subordinates urging them to donate to Governor Malloy by giving money to the Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account.”

According to news accounts, the email produced over $50,000 in checks for the State Democratic Party.

This maneuver by Northeast Utilities, Malloy’s political operation and the Democratic State Central Committee raises serious legal questions since funds deposited in to the Democrat’s “Federal Account” can only be used to benefit federal candidates or as part of a broader non-candidate specific voter registration or get out the vote effort.

In addition, since the NU CEO’s email makes clear the contributions were to benefit Governor Malloy’s campaign, the effort raises a second set of problems related to the fact that while directed donations are allowed for under federal law for federal candidates, it is not legal to direct donations through a political part to benefit a particular state candidate.

While the Federal Election Act is a complex document, the rules are certainly understandable.

One of the most basic rules relates to the use of the “Federal Account” itself.

The law is that the Federal Account may only contain funds that are “subject to the limits, prohibitions and reporting requirements of the Act and are used to finance activities in connection with federal elections.”

Secondly, according to federal laws, “A (State Party) Committee may choose to set up both federal and non-federal accounts.  Again, only funds permissible under the Act may be deposited into the federal account.  The committee must use the federal account…for all disbursements, contributions, expenditures or transfers in conjunction with any federal election.”

Having served as the State Central Committee’s Political Director form 1986-1992, I know what the federal law allows and what it prohibits.

In this case, Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee are pushing the legal boundary, especially since the NU CEO’s email was so clear on who was going to benefit from the funds.

But even more important than the apparent violation of federal law is the fact that Malloy and Connecticut Democrats claim to support campaign finance reform, clean elections and the on-going efforts to remove “big money” from American politics.

There is absolutely no question that the scheme concocted by Malloy, NU and the State Democrats undermine the fundamental commitment to an open, honest and reformed campaign finance system.

But the truth of the matter became apparent late this week when the Democrats finally respond to this growing controversy?

According to the CT Mirror;

“James Hallinan, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said the NU contributions are legal under state and federal law, as is how the money is being used.”

The CT Mirror articled noted that Hallinan added,

“Labriola is complaining because of the GOP’s struggles, he said.

‘Due to his own inept fundraising, Jerry’s Republican Party is now officially broke,’ Hallinan said. ‘His response to that is to call on the Democratic Party to return money that was raised following all laws, rules, and regulations?  What’s next?  Will he call on Democrats not to nominate candidates in order to give the Republicans a better chance at winning?’”

So let’s get the Democrat’s political spin right.

According to the spokesperson for the Democratic State Central Committee, the controversy is not about Malloy, the Democratic State Central Committee and Northeast Utilities.

Instead the controversy is the result of the Republican State Chairman who hasn’t raised enough money for his party and is therefore complaining about what the unethical, immoral and potentially illegal fundraising strategies that are being conducted by the Democrats.

And rather than addressing those unethical, immoral and potentially illegal practices, the Democrats response is “the NU contributions are legal under state and federal law, as is how the money is being used.”

It is hard to imagine the Connecticut Democrats could have come up with a more lame explanation.

Like Governor Malloy, the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee is voiding its ability to say that it represents the values and beliefs of the members of the Democratic Party in Connecticut.

Unlike Malloy and the leadership of the Connecticut Democrats, there is no doubt that the vast majority of registered Democrats in Connecticut do not want a system in which the CEO of NU, a company with all broad range of issues pending before state government, tells his senior employees to support Malloy’s re-election aspirations by funneling money through the Democratic State Party.

You can read about the Democratic Party’s official response in the CT Mirror: https://www.ctmirror.org/political-mirror/2013/12/05/gop-dems-wrangle-over-propriety-nu-contributions

And you can read some of the Wait, What? posts on Malloy’s campaign finance strategy via the following links:

Malloy pulls in $36,000 plus from Connecticut nursing home industry

Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party

Did you see the “For Sale” sign that the Malloy Administration put up?

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

Malloy continues to cash in on Education Reform initiative

Meanwhile…..John Rowland? No Dannel Malloy

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

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