Campaign Finance, Corporate Viewpoint, Malloy, Power of Incumbency, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes Campaign Finance, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, State Budget
When Connecticut passed its landmark campaign finance reform legislation, the goal was to remove lobbyist and special interest campaign money from the public policy making process.
But of course, where there is a will, there is a way.
Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee, the PAC affiliated with Governor Malloy has raised over $235,000 in the last 18 months and a nice portion of that money comes from lobbyists who represent a range of clients that will be impacted by Malloy’s budget and policy proposals.
When analyzing the policy initiatives it is often useful to see who has worked to guarantee access to the key decision makers.
The following is list of organizations whose lobbyists have – as the saying goes – ponied up for the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC.
Clients whose lobbyists have donated to Malloy’s Prosperity for Connecticut PAC
|Ability Beyond Disability
|Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
|Alliance Energy Corporation
|Altria Client Services Inc. and its Affiliates
|American Council of Life Insurers
|ASSA ABLOY Americas
|AT&T Connecticut and Affiliates
|Bank of America Corporation
|Bestech Inc. of CT
|Bradley Off Airport Association
|Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group, Inc.
|Can Manufacturers Institute c/o Multistate Associates Inc.
|Carpenters Labor Management Program
|CGR Medical Development, LLC
|Charter Oak Health Center
|Citigroup Management Corp.
|Coca-Cola Refreshments, Inc.
|Comcast Cable Corp.
|Community Health Network of CT
|Connecticut Association of Realtors, Inc.
|Connecticut Bankers Association
|Connecticut Benefit Brokers, a Chapter of NAHU
|Connecticut Beverage Coalition, Inc.
|Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc
|Connecticut Construction Industries Association
|Connecticut Creditor Bar Association, Inc.
|Connecticut Distributors, Inc.
|Connecticut Energy Marketers Association
|Connecticut Homemaker and Companion Assoc.
|Connecticut Film Center
|Connecticut Thermal-Renewable Energy Coalition (CT_REC)
|Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association
|Council of States Attorneys
|CPV Towantic, LLC
|CT Assoc. Health Care Facilities
|CT Assoc. Public School Superintendents, Inc.
|CT Association for Healthcare at Home
|CT Association of Health Plans
|CT Association of Prosecutors
|CT Attorneys Title Insurance Co.
|CT Broadcasters Assoc.
|CT Chapter National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
|CT Children’s Medical Center
|CT Coalition Interior Designers
|CT Coalition of Taft Hartley Health Funds
|CT Community Action Foundation
|CT Community Providers Assoc.
|CT Forest & Park Assoc., Inc.
|CT Health Association for Mutual Progress, Inc.
|CT Hospital Assoc.
|CT Humane Society
|CT Humanities Council, Inc.
|CT Institute Blind
|CT Junior Republic Assoc.
|CT Main Street Center
|CT Mortgage Bankers Assoc.
|CT Probate Assembly
|CT State Medical Society
|CT Water Service, Inc.
|Darden Restaurants, Inc.
|DISH Network, LLC
|Eastern CT Health Network/Manchester Memorial Hosp
|EquiPower Resources Corp.
|Exelon Generation Company LLC
|Explore Information Services
|Expressway Courier & Freight LLC
|Exxon Mobil Global Services
|FIG LLC and certain of its affiliates
|First Technologies LLC
|Forest City Residential
|GDF-Suez FirstLight Power
|General Electric Company
|Governor’s Prevention Partnership
|Greenbelt Management LLC
|Grocery Manufacturers of America
|Hartford Economic Development Company
|Hartford Health Care Corp.
|Honda North America, Inc.
|Hospital for Special Care
|Housing Authority of the City of Stamford
|Hybrid Insurance Group
|Insurance Assoc. of CT
|Iroquois Gas Transmission System
|Kofkoff Egg Farm
|Lakin Tire East, Inc.
|Manufacturing Alliance of CT Inc.
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino
|Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company
|Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
|Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
|Merit Properties, Inc.
|Metropolitan District Commission
|MGM Resorts International Operations, Inc.
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority
|National Electrical Contractors Assoc/Int’l. Brhd. Elect. Wrkrs
|National Shooting Sports Foundation
|Nestlé Waters North America Inc.
|New England Convenience Store Assoc.
|New England Home Care, Inc.
|New Haven Board of Education
|Northeast Association of Wholesale Distributors
|Norwich Public Utilities
|NRG Energy, Inc.
|Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Association of Connecticut
|Phadia US Inc, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific
|Pitney Bowes Corp.
|Procter and Gamble
|Purdue Pharma L.P.
|RBS Greenwich Capital
|Reed Elsevier Inc.
|Schnitzer Steel Industries
|SCI – CT Funeral Services, Inc.
|Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
|Senior Care Centers of Connecticut
|Spectra Energy Transmission
|The Connection Fund, Inc.
|The Jewish Home for the Elderly
|Three 3M Corporation
|Total Wine & More
|Toy Industry Association
|Tri-S Environmental Services, Inc.
|UIL Holdings Corporation
|United Healthcare Services Inc.
|United Technologies Corp.
|Vanguard Health Systems
|VNA Community Healthcare, Inc.
|Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
|We Work for Health
|Western Connecticut Health Network
|Wheeler Clinic, Inc
|Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of CT
|Winters Brothers Waste Systems, CT
|Workforce Investment Board Alliance
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Campaign Finance, Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Michelle Rhee, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst Bridgeport, Campaign Finance, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Michelle Rhee, Paul Vallas, Residents for a Better Bridgeport, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst
The final reports from Bridgeport’s November 2012 education reform referendum are in and it turns out that the corporate education reform industry and its supporters spent at least $562,955.16 in their effort to pass Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s anti-democracy initiative, a proposal that would have eliminated the City’s democratically elected board of education and replaced it with one appointed by the mayor.
In the end, Residents for a Better Bridgeport, the political action committee formed by Mayor Finch and his supporters, spent a total of $275,671.80 in the November 2012 referendum campaign that ended with Mayor Finch’s plan going down to defeat by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.
Excel Bridgeport, the corporate funded education reform group that has been lobbying for Bridgeport’s public school privatization efforts reported spending $101,803.36.
And when the dust settled, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst (which goes by the name of Great New England Public School Alliance) spent a total of $185,480.
||Reported Total Spending
|Residents for a Better Bridgeport
Taken together, the level of spending by the education reformers broke all Connecticut records for a referendum vote.
Residents for a Better Bridgeport:
In their final campaign finance report, Residents for a Better Bridgeport reported raising another $94,444 in the final week of the campaign, bringing the total amount the group raised (and spent) to over $275,000.
Late corporate campaign donations came in from the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation; Bridgeport based Enviro Express Inc., Mellon Bank, Danbury’s Morganti Group Inc., Bridgeport’s Trefz Corporation and Webster Bank, as well as a number of smaller corporate donations.
Webster Bank’s contribution was for $10,000, Mellon Bank put in $5,000 and the Trefz Corporation added $7,000 to the campaign effort.
The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation, which was created by Andy Boas, the Chairman of Achievement First – Bridgeport’s Board of Directors, gave the anti-democracy political action committee $14,000.
According to the Charter Oak Challenge Foundation’s website, the charity “was founded to help children and families who have the ability to succeed but need financial support to realize their potential. Its founder, Andy Boas, wanted to improve the languishing conditions in Bridgeport by funding a meaningful program for children’s education.”
The final report also revealed that Jonathan Sackler gave the PAC a check for $50,000 just after the last pre-election report was due.
Sackler was the early funder behind Stefan Pryor’s creation of Achievement First, Inc., the larger charter school management company that owns 20 schools in New York and Connecticut and is working to get approval to expand their present schools as well as build new schools in Connecticut. Stefan Pryor is now Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.
Sackler was also the funding force behind the corporate education reform advocacy groups ConnCAN, ConnAD, and the national education reform advocacy group 50-CAN.
Most recently, it came to light that Sackler hosted a major fundraiser for Prosperity for Connecticut, the political action committee affiliated with Governor Malloy. Collecting over $42,000, Sackler’s May 2012 fundraiser was the most successful event Malloy’s political action committee has had to date.
What is particularly noteworthy about Sackler $50,000 donation is that since Residents for a Better Bridgeport was registered as a “Referendum PAC,” the maximum allowable donation under Connecticut law was $14,442.90.
How Residents for a Better Bridgeport PAC believes it could legally accept Sackler’s $50,000 donation is not clear.
Finally, the Residents for a Better Bridgeport final report included a $1,000 contribution from Connecticut Future PAC, Inc. Connecticut Future PAC, Inc. was the independent “super-PAC” created to support Chris Murphy’s campaign for the United States Senate. The PAC, which spent over $485,000 to support Murphy’s campaign, donated $1,000, after Election Day, to the Finch referendum effort.
According to the final report, Residents for a Better Bridgeport PAC spent about $55,000 more on direct mail, $57,000 for phone banking services and $25,000 more for polling. Much of the remaining funding went to at least 132 campaign workers, who in the case of the Residents for a Better Bridgeport were labeled “consultants.”
Excel Bridgeport, Inc:
In its final report of the campaign, Excel Bridgeport reported that they spent a total of $101,803.36, of which $66,900 went for direct mail.
Excel Bridgeport’s direct mail vendor was a company called Campaignswon. According to the company’s website, one of the firm’s partners is Bridgeport’s Jorge Cabrera.
Cabrera is also Excel Bridgeport’s “Community Organizer” and while the Excel Bridgeport campaign finance reports show various reimbursements to Cabrera for supplies, they do not report any in-kind contribution of time. Failure to report direct or in-kind expenditures is a violation of Connecticut campaign finance law.
Much of Excel Bridgeport’s remaining expenditures went to cover the costs of more than two dozen field staff who were paid for services described as “direct outreach and/or holding signs.”
StudentsFirst/Greater New England Public School Alliance (GNEPSA):
In an earlier report, StudentsFirst/Great New England Public School Alliance reported paying $97,000 to a company called FieldWins for door-to-door canvassers. FieldWins is a New York company that formed a parallel entity in Connecticut. The final set of reports from Michelle Rhee’s organization indicated that later in the campaign she paid $35,000 to a company named SKD Knickerbocker for television ads and another $53,480 to FieldWins for additional canvassing services.
And $700 for Vallas’ Haitian Activities:
And one of the strangest twists, after spending nearly $563,000 in their failed attempt to persuade Bridgeport voters to undermine their own democratic rights, Residents for a Better Bridgeport ended the campaign with surplus funds of $702.79. The political action committee donated the $700 to Los Angeles based J/P Haitian Relief Organization.
In February 2011, Bridgeport Superintendent of School, Paul Vallas, joined the J/P Haitian Relief Organization’s Board of Directors.
According to the charity’s IRS filings, “J/P HRO RUNS AN ACCREDITED IN-CAMP SCHOOL, ECOLE DE ‘L’ESPOIR’ (‘SCHOOL OF HOPE’), WHICH NOW SERVES AROUND 550 CHILDREN. J/P HRO ALSO IS IMPLEMENTING A PROGRAM FOR YOUTH WHO HAVE NOT FINISHED THEIR PRIMARY EDUCATION TO GIVE THEM THE FOUNDATION THEY NEED TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION BEYOND THE PRIMARY LEVEL.”
It has remained unclear what compensation or benefits, if any, Vallas receives from his work in Haiti but the Foundation’s annual report indicates that last year they provided over $60,000 in “in-kind” services for that education program.
Campaign Finance Violations:
As Wait, What? readers know, following complaints I filed with the Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission, the Commission voted to authorize individual investigations into alleged campaign finance violations by Residents for a Better Bridgeport, Excel Bridgeport and Michelle Rhee and her Great New England Public Schools Alliance. These most recent reports reveal a number of other apparent violations of Connecticut law.
Future posts will outline these myriad of campaign finance issues.
Readers will also recall that these latest donations come on top of tens of thousands of dollars in previous donations from companies and individuals that do business with the Finch Administration or rely on Mayor Finch and the Bridgeport Democrats for support.
Earlier contributions to Finch’s referendum efforts included;
Aquarion Water Company which donated $14,000
Bridgeport Hospital which donated $14,422.90
Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Company $14,000
CT Coalition for Advancement Now (ConnAD) $14,000
Harbor Yard Sports & Entertainment which donated $14,442.90
Jarvis Group LLC, NY (in-kind video) $14,376.40
Pullman and Comeley law firm $7,000
St. Vincent Medical Center which donated $14,400
United Illuminating which donated $10,000
In addition, there were some large individual contributions including one for $25,000 from Bradford Evans, a Senior Advisor at Morgan Stanley and a $25,000 contribution from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Stay tuned for more about the legal troubles facing Bridgeport’s education reformers.
Campaign Finance, Connecticut State Government, Corporate Viewpoint, DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty, Energy policy, Malloy, State Politics Campaign Finance, Energy Policy, Global Strategies Group, Lobbyists, Malloy, Occhiogrosso
Despite claiming he had no specific plans for work following his resignation as Governor Malloy’s chief advisor, spokesperson and ultra-ego, Roy Occhiogrosso is returning to become the Managing Director for Global Strategy Group’s Hartford Office.
Global Strategy Group is a campaign management and public relations company that specializes in helping companies and organizations push their legislative and political agendas. Occhiogrosso and the Global Strategy Group served as lead consultants in candidate Dan Malloy’s 2006 and 2010 gubernatorial campaigns. Occhiogrosso and other staff then moved to join the Malloy administration when Governor Malloy was inaugurated in January 2011.
The move is a classic reminder of how government really works and the not-so-clean anti-revolving door policies that are supposed to prevent public officials from personally and financially capitalizing on their public service.
Returning to Global Strategy Group will provide Occhiogrosso (and the company’s clients) with unique access to the development of government policy.
Take, for example, the case study of BNE Energy, which became a client of Global Strategy Group before Occhiogrosso left and has remained one of their primary clients throughout Malloy’s first two years in office.
BNE Energy, incorporated in Delaware, but owned by two Connecticut residents, has been trying to develop commercial wind projects in Prospect and Colebrook Connecticut. The firm is owned by Greg Zupkus, who serves as President and CEO and Paul Corey, who serves as the company’s Chairman of the Board.
Paul J. Corey is well known in Connecticut politics and government. During the Rowland years, Corey served as the Executive Director of the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, the organization that plays such a significant role in the development of energy policy in Connecticut. Corey also served as the Chairman of the Board of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation from January 2000 to December 2004.
Corey’s wife, Christine, was a high-ranking personal assistant to former Governor John Rowland. Together they gave Rowland the famous hot-tub that helped lead to the impeachment hearings and Rowland’s subsequent resignation and trip to federal prison.
After leaving public service, Corey joined the law firm of Brown, Rudnick to work in their Public Utility Practice Group.
In addition to the two corporate executives, BNE Energy operation is assisted by the law firm of Pullman & Comley, where former State Senator Andrew McDonald worked before becoming Malloy’s Chief Counsel. (Malloy has recently nominated McDonald to a seat on the State Supreme Court). Pullman & Comley was retained to help BNE get approval from the Connecticut Siting Council.
Meanwhile, lobbying and permitting tasks for the wind farms were given to the law firm of Brown Rudnick, LLP. The lead individual from Brown, Rudnick is Thomas Ritter, the former speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
Finally, Occhiogrosso’s Global Strategy Group continued to assist with public relations and grassroots lobbying services.
In the last 24 months, Ritter and Global Strategy Group have received over $200,000 in fees from BNE.
Among the backers of the BNE project is Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, a public entity created to “help ensure Connecticut’s energy security and community prosperity by realizing its environmental and economic opportunities through clean, energy finance and investments.” The authority is chaired by Catherine Smith, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Another Board member is Daniel C. Esty, Malloy’s Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
According to public documents, the Finance and Investment Authority has given BNE Energy at least $500,000 in public funds.
In what could be described as an interesting coincidence, on June 21, 2012, BNE’s CEO Zupkus and the company’s president Corey both donated to Democratic Congressional candidate Elizabeth Esty, the wife of Commissioner Dan Esty.
According to BNE Energy, the project faced, “Fierce NIMBY opposition and a tumultuous regulatory environment…as well as heavy legislative scrutiny—particularly after a bill was introduced to place a moratorium on all wind projects in the state. In addition, opposition groups were well-funded and highly vocal, and the press was unsympathetic to the developers.”
BNE’s proposal for a project in Prospect was rejected by the Connecticut Siting Council by a vote of 6-2, but BNE’s plan for a wind farm in Colebrook was approved. Governor Malloy appoints the members of the Connecticut Siting Council, but the agency’s activities and budget report up through Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) which is part of Commissioner Esty’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
In response to the developments with BNE Energy and the Connecticut Siting Council, at the beginning of the 2012 Legislative Session, Democrat State Representative Vicki Orsini Nardello, the House Chair of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology committee, along with State Senator Joan Hartley acted on their concern that the State of Connecticut had never adopted appropriate regulations to manage the development of wind energy in the state. The legislators introduced legislation suspending the development of further wind power projects until state regulations were established.
Among those supporting Nardello’s bill was U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and a significant number of residents from northwestern Connecticut.
However, BNE CEO Zupkus was highly critical of the bill, saying, “It’s just a way the anti-wind is crowd trying to stop wind projects.”
The moratorium bill was eventually passed, but with effective lobbying from former Speaker Ritter the BNE project was exempted.
Meanwhile, in October 2012, a Connecticut Superior Court ruled that the Connecticut Siting Council’s approval of a Colebrook wind farm project was legal and BNE could move forward with construction. However, the judge did make clear that Connecticut’s wind farm siting system was “deeply flawed” and needed to be enhanced.
Meanwhile, as the 2012 legislative campaigns heated up, Lezlye Zupkus, Gregory Zupkus’ wife, announced that she was going to run against Democrat State Representative Vicki Orsini Nardello.
On Election Day, Representative Nardello was one of the only incumbents to lose. At the time, Nardello explained, “When you take on strong corporate interests, you make enemies.”
Although both Nardello and Zupkus abided by the state’s public financing laws, a new outside group, funded by a right-wing Greenwich billionaire engaged in a series of “independent” expenditures aimed at defeating some Democrats that the group claimed were not sufficiently pro-business. Nardello was one of those targeted by Voters for Good Government. The PAC spent over a quarter of a million dollars to try and defeat these candidates.
Voters for Good Government, a new “super-PAC” funded by Greenwich billionaire Thomas Peterffy also took in funds from the Roger Sherman Liberty Center, Americans for Job Security and the American Justice Partnership. According to a story in the Hartford Courant, Peterffy “hates socialism because he grew up in communist Hungary before coming to America and making his fortune in discount brokerage.”
For more on Voters for Good Government read the Wait, What? blog post: http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/10/26/anti-socialist-greenwich-billionaire-targeting-democratic-connecticut-state-senators/
Of course, it is unclear if Malloy or Occhiogrosso were involved in any of the developments related to BNE Energy, but one thing is clear. Occiogrosso’s Global Strategies was involved with BNE Energy before he joined Governor Malloy’s operation and he is now returning to Global Strategies on January 14, 2013.
For more on the interconnections and intrigue surrounding this issue, see the following:
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Campaign Finance, Charter Schools, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Michelle Rhee, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst Campaign Finance, Education Reform, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC
In the financial world, I think they call it Return on Investment, or, in the parlance of Wall Street ROI.
On May 29, 2012, Governor Malloy’s education reform bill became Public Act 12-116.
Twenty-four hours later, Malloy was ensconced at the 10,000 square-foot, $8.5 million, Greenwich, Connecticut home of corporate education reform financier Jonathan Sackler for a fundraiser that netted the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee more than $41,000.
Sackler, who helped Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, create Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management company that owns at least 20 schools in Connecticut and New York, also played a pivotal role in forming Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. (ConnCAN), Connecticut Coalition for Education Advocacy (ConnAD) and 50-CAN, the national organization that has inserted ConnCAN-like organizations into the education reform debate in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. ConnAD was a primary funder behind the lobbying effort to pass Malloy’s education bill last spring, and more recently, helped fund Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate a democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor.
Malloy’s financial patrons included the chairman and board members of Achievement First, Inc. as well as board members of Achievement First-Bridgeport, Achievement First-Amistad and Achievement First-Elm City, with most donating the maximum $750 per person allowed under Connecticut law.
A total of at least six members of ConnCAN’s small Board of Directors, along with numerous members of ConnCAN’s Advisory Board were also in attendance or provided checks for the event. At least two senior board officers of Excel Bridgeport and the President and Vice President of the New Beginnings Family Academy, another charter school in Bridgeport also donated. ConnCAN’s former CEO, Alex Johnston gave, as did the spouse of the Connecticut Director of Teacher For America.
The Vice Chair of Eva Moskowitz’s infamous New York City based Success Academy Charter Schools dropped $1,500 on the event, thanks to donations from board members and his wife, while another donation came from a board member of the Newark, New Jersey, Team Charter School chain, which is owned by KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, a “national network” of 125 charter schools around the Country.
The event, a veritable who’s who of corporate education reformers, included the Chief Operating Officer of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, a couple of national board members of Teach For America, members of KIPP’s national board of directors, a board member of New Leaders Inc. (a program to “train” school administrators in the ways of education reformers) and one of the founders of the national group, Democrats for Education Reform.
Donations for the event came from as far away as Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Vero Beach, Pacific Palisades, Teton Village, Wyoming, McLean, Virginia, Los Angeles, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, along with multiple checks from education reform/hedge fund managers from New York City.
Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel kicked in $750, along with his associate, Meghan Lowney, who spent so much time and effort pushing the Malloy Administration’s illegal, and eventually failed, attempt to take-over the Bridgeport School System in 2010.
When not funding Governor Malloy’s political action committee or various Connecticut and national education reform organizations, the attendees and donors to the Sackler fundraiser are busy running hedge funds and investment companies. The donor list included CEOs, Presidents and Directors of Alternative Investment Group, Belenos Capital, Brookside International, Carl Marks & Co., Carter Morse & Mathias, Conatus Capital, Dawson Capital Management, Five Mile Capital Partners, Greenwich Capital Markets, Gotham Capital and Gotham Asset Management, Jaws Estates Capital, Lone Pine Capital, North Bay Associates, Salmon River Capital, Sessa Capital, Shumway Capital, Structured Portfolio Management (SPM) , Tilson Mutual Funds and Viking Global Investors, just to name a few.
According to information first reported by the Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter, Jon Lender, Sackler’s May 30, 2012 fundraiser was one of at least fourteen fundraisers the political action committee, Prosperity for Connecticut, held between October 2011 and October 2012. As of its last State Elections Enforcement Report (October 28, 2012), the PAC reported that it has raised a total of just over $205,000.
With donations related to the May 30, 2012 party totally over $41,000, it appears that Sackler’s education reform house party may be the single most profitable event the PAC has held.
For Lender’s story see: http://articles.courant.com/2012-12-08/news/hc-lender-column-pac-contributions-1209-20121208_1_dannel-p-malloy-ferry-business-bridgeport-ferry
A minor side-note: With no expenditure listed for food and beverages for the May 30, 2012 event and no “in-kind contribution” of food and beverages listed from the event’s host, it would appear that the attendees weren’t provided any food or beverage for their efforts. Alternatively, of course, the PAC violated state law by failing to properly report its official expenditures or in-kind contributions, in which case a fine should be forthcoming should the State Election Enforcement Commission take notice of the PAC’s election law violation.
Bridgeport, Campaign Finance, Ethics, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, State Politics Campaign Finance, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC
At least 15 family members and employees of a company that financially benefits from Connecticut public policy is one of the biggest donors to Malloy’s Political Action Committee, according to an article written by investigative reporter Jon Lender in today’s Hartford Courant.
Wait, What? readers are already familiar with Prosperity for Connecticut, a political action committee tied to Governor Malloy.
As a result of more than 14 fundraising events over the past year, the PAC has raised over $200,000.
Now, according to Jon Lender, “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…he McAllister ferry business has been unsuccessful so far in its effort to expand to a larger boat terminal that would be built on the east side of Bridgeport Harbor, opposite from its current location.
But a new consultant’s study on the future of Connecticut’s deep water ports, commissioned in mid-year by the Democrat-controlled legislature and released in October by Malloy’s office, recommends that the state “protect and enhance private ferry services.” And, in a section relevant to the McAllister business, it says: “the State should support the Phase 1 relocation/expansion of the Bridgeport ferry” to the location sought by the company on the east side.”
The full story can be found here: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-lender-column-pac-contributions-1209-20121208,0,1249593.column
Issues about the political action committee were highlighted in an article here at Wait, What? in a post entitled, “If money is the “mother’s milk of politics”, Governor Malloy’s cup runneth over” (see http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/12/06/if-money-is-the-mothers-milk-of-politics-governor-malloys-cup-runneth-over/)
The Courant’s Jon Lender then wrote a story for the Hartford Courant. See http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/12/07/courants-jon-lender-sheds-light-on-malloys-pac/
Lender’s latest story raises extraordinarily serious issues related about the inter-connection between Malloy’s fundraising activities and state policy.
Having now spent a significant amount of time analyzing the PACs fundraising reports, I’m reminded of the interesting fact about icebergs…” approximately 90 percent of an iceberg is found under water.”
I can guarantee this isn’t the last time we’ll be reading about the Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee.
In the “small world department,” Wait, What? readers may also remember that McAllister’s Port Jefferson Steamboat Co., was one of the largest contributors to Mayor Bill Finch’s Bridgeport referendum political committee that was campaigning to do away with a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor.
Moving the Port Jefferson Steamboat terminal in Bridgeport, as was recommended by the Malloy Administration’s study, would require the approval of both the State of Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport.
Campaign Finance, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Politics Campaign Finance, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC
For Wait, What readers who were intrigued by yesterday’s blog post entitled, “If money is the “mother’s milk of politics”, Governor Malloy’s cup runneth over,” Jon Lender, the courant’s legendary investigative reporter, has taken an even more detailed look into the recent activities of Governor Malloy’s Political Action Committee…or the political action committee that appears to be connected with Malloy.
As noted in my blog yesterday, Governor Malloy, and a number of Connecticut’s highest ranking public officials, attended a fundraiser last night at the home of Alan Lazowski. Lazowski is the owner of LAZ parking, and the recent recipient of a multi-million dollar development contract given out by a commission that the Governor controls.
As the Courant notes, “Lazowski is CEO of Hartford-based LAZ Parking, one of the biggest parking operators in the country. In May, LAZ began a $990,980 contract to provide valet parking for patients at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington – a pact that has several renewal options that could extend it six years beyond its initial one-year term…”
Prosperity for Connecticut PAC has already raised over $200,000 thanks to more than a dozen fundraisers over the past year.
Lender’s news article sheds new light on a variety of issues associated with the PAC and its activities, but the most interesting part of the whole article was the official response from Malloy’s gubernatorial spokesperson.
In response to a statement of concern about the PAC by the Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola, Malloy’s media staff told Lender, “Jerry’s histrionics aside, this fundraiser was not set up by the governor, but he agreed to attend along with many other political, business and community leaders. He’s attending this event for the same reason he attends any number of similar events: he is the chief elected official of the state,” said Andrew R. Doba, Malloy’s director of communications.
As usual, it seems the people who speak for the Governor can’t utter a single statement that doesn’t begin or end with bullying, threatening or insulting language.
Not to mention, this is definitely NOT just another PAC, nor was it an event that the Governor just happened to stop by at.
The invitation made it clear the event featured the Governor and the Governor has been the primary draw at the PAC’s other fundraisers. Furthermore, it is well-known among the power elite that this is “the Governor’s PAC.” An observer need only look at the names of the high-ranking lobbyists who have given to this PAC.
Definitely take the time to read Lender’s piece. Although many of the quotes are in “political speech,” some of them are extremely telling. There is absolutely no doubt that between what they said to Lender and what shows up in these political action committee reports we’ll be hearing more about this group and its activities.
You can read Lender’s piece here: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-pac-fundraiser-malloy-1207-20121206,0,3461857.story
Campaign Finance, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, State Politics Campaign Finance, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC
Later today, movers, shakers, lobbyists, the political elite, and anyone else ready to plunk down $750 a person can have a cocktail with Governor Malloy and a host of “featured guests” including Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senator-elect Chris Murphy, Congressman John Larson, Congresswoman-elect Elizabeth Esty and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.
The ticket price will also get you into the upscale home of Alan Lazowski, owner of LAZ Parking. Lazowski is also part of the investment team whose company just received a major contract from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority to develop more housing and retail space in downtown Hartford.
And while handing over the check may not get you onto Santa’s “good” list, the proceeds go to Governor Malloy’s political action committee, called Prosperity for Connecticut.
If you were one of those who thought Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law put an end to the co-mingling of Connecticut politics and public policy, apparently you’d be wrong. Since its creation about 15 months ago, Malloy’s Prosperity for Connecticut PAC has raised over $200,000, as a result of at least eleven fundraisers held in Connecticut, New York, and as far away as Washington DC.
If you weren’t on the invitation lists, you might not have known about the fundraiser at the exclusive Rue 57 on Manhattan’s West 57th Steet, or the even more exclusive event at 1455 Pennsylvania Ave, across from the White House and next to the legendary Willard Hotel.
Or maybe you missed the fundraiser at the home of Jonathan Sackler, education reform aficionado and co-founder of Achievement First, ConnCAN, ConnAD and 50CAN. The same Jonathan Sackler who helped Malloy’s Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor build Achievement First into one of the largest charter school management companies in the country.
And you probably didn’t get the invitation to the “meet and great” at Vision Financial Markets LLC, where an impressive number of their employees had the opportunity to meet Governor Malloy after donating only $750 per person to his PAC.
And then there was the New York City event where it appears that more than a dozen members and employees of the McAllister family joined together to generously support Governor Malloy’s PAC.
You don’t know the McAllister family? Why they own McAllister Towing in Brooklyn, New York.
Over the past year, while the Governor has helped orchestrate the passage and death of dozens of pieces of legislation, more than a dozen Connecticut lobbyists have donated to Malloy’s PAC, as have some of Connecticut’s other political action committees.
Of course, it takes money to make money, some more than $40,000 of the money raised was paid out to O’Neill & Associates, Boston’s #1 lobbying firm. The a company is headed by Thomas O’Neill III who is not only Tip O’Neill’s oldest son, but also a former Massachusetts State Legislator and former Lt. Governor in the Bay State.
Finally, in the good news department, since it would be illegal, under Connecticut law, for Governor Malloy’s PAC to use its funds to help Governor Malloy’s political endeavors, we can be sure that all these donors never thought the money they were donating was going to benefit the Governor, so at least there isn’t that whole, awkward conflict of interest.
Campaign Finance, Corporate Viewpoint, Ethics, State Politics Campaign Finance
Senators Cassano and Williams (Photo courtesy of Christine Stuart)
Following a press conference, yesterday, by State Senators Don Williams and Steve Cassano, the former chief of staff for the Connecticut Republican Party, and managing director of Voters for Good Government, admitted to Connecticut media outlets that television ads are going to be run against certain Democratic State Senators. Liz Kurantowicz, the Voters for Good Government Political Action Committee’s staff person, told reporters that, “our goal is to try and bring to light bad policies and politicians that make bad decisions.”
The television advertisements are being produced by Cashman + Katz, an advertising and political consulting firm that has done work for the CT Dept. of Children and Families, the CT Dept. of Economic and Community Development, the CT Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the CT Dept. of Public Health, the CT Dept. of Transportation, the CT Development Authority, the CT Lottery, the CT Office of Policy & Management, the CT Science Center, the CT Convention Center and the CT Tourism agency. While the company had ties to John Rowland’s administration, they have continued to get state business.
Voters for Good Government is a new “super-PAC” funded by Greenwich billionaire Thomas Peterffy.
According to a story in the Hartford Courant, Thomas Peterffy, “hates socialism because he grew up in communist Hungary before coming to America and making his fortune in discount brokerage.”
According to the news reports, this year Peterffy is spending up to $10 million dollars on television ads to, “rail against socialism.”
Meanwhile, he is also paying for television ads to unseat some of Connecticut’s Democratic State Senators, including Steven Cassano, the State Senator from Manchester, Glastonbury, Bolton and Andover. Cassano is probably best known as the nicest, most decent member of the Connecticut General Assembly.
So who is Thomas Peterffy?
Peterffy is a Greenwich resident and stock market discount fund manager who has donated over $200,000 in campaign contributions during the past years including over $20,000 to Connecticut Republican candidates, including Linda McMahon, Steve Obsitnik, Christopher Shays, Rob Simmons and the Republican State Central Committee.
Oh, and another significant beneficiary of Peterffy’s largess…none-other-than New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who has received multiple donations from Peterffy in recent years.
The National Freedom Forum, an ultra-right-wing, organization recently wrote on their blog that, “New York Socialist Senator Chuckie Schumer is pushing for limits on First Amendment Freedom of Speech Rights related to political campaigns. Socialists in Congress are also pushing for full disclosure of names and presumably addresses related to campaign contributions since the Supreme Court upheld the right of all Americans, or Corporations to donate to political campaigns. The Socialists are scared to death of Political Action Committees funded by anonymous “rich” people…Remember, Socialists, including President Obama, hate the rich and successful, those earning more than $250,000 a year, which include more than 1 million Small Businesses.”
So there you go, the right-wing, anti-socialist Connecticut billionaire, who is spending his “hard earned” money to stamp out the likes of Connecticut State Senator Steve Cassano is doubling down with major contributions to Senator Schumer, a leading “liberal” member of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight, and Long-Term Growth, the very committee that oversees companies like the one owned by Thomas Peterffy.
So much for his ideological purity!
Peterffy, and his kind, are nothing more than two-faced, self-serving big-time political donors looking to manipulate democracy, for their own benefit.
For more on the story see CTNewsjunkie story: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/lawmakers_decry_outside_expenditure/
Courant story: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-billionaire-senate-race-1026-20121025,0,632179.story
CTMirror story: http://ctmirror.com/story/17906/billionaires-super-pac-takes-aim-general-assembly
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Ethics, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Campaign Finance, Mayor Bill Finch
There are some who seem to think they are above the law.
And then there are those who act like they are above the law, and then attempt to claim they didn’t know they were doing something wrong when they are caught.
We’ll soon find out which strategy the education reform forces in Bridgeport will be taking.
Not satisfied with intentionally manipulating the wording of Bridgeport’s upcoming charter revision vote in order to confuse voters into supporting the change that will take away their own democratic rights and give Bridgeport’s mayor the power to appoint his own board of education, the proponents of the referendum appear to ducking their legal obligations under Connecticut’s campaign finance law.
Residents for a Better Bridgeport, the political action committee formed to support Mayor Finch’s effort to eliminate a democratically elected Board of Education, and replace it with one under his control, has filed a report that is so misleading that an official complaint has now been filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Connecticut law requires that every campaign treasurer and deputy treasurer must follow the state’s campaign finance laws.
Ignorance of the law is not a defense.
And as the law states;
“Any person who violates any provision of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $2,000 or twice the amount of the improper contribution or payment, whichever is greater.
Those who break the law on purpose face even stiffer fines. The law goes on to read;
“Any person who “knowingly and willfully” violates any provision of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws is subject to criminal penalties of up to $5,000 in fines, or five years imprisonment, or both.
Last week, the political action committee known as Residents for a Better Bridgeport filed their October 10th campaign finance report with Bridgeport’s Town Clerk. The Committee claimed that they raised $572 during the period, on top of the $100 that they had already raised.
Their report also claimed that they did not make any expenditure, whatsoever, to promote their cause.
But of course, Residents for a Better Bridgeport spent or encumbered tens of thousands of dollars in their ongoing campaign to pass the charter revision.
Just ask anyone who has received one of their three glossy mailings or has seen one of their new videos or even clicked on their website: http://www.residentsforabetterbridgeport.com/
Connecticut campaign finance law is based on the fact that voters have a fundamental right to know what candidates and political action committees are spending their money on.
Failure to disclose that information is one of the most serious offenses under Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.
And the law is particularly clear.
The campaign treasurer and deputy treasurer have the legal obligation to submit campaign finance reports that not only reveal any expenditures the committee has made, but they must also reveal any expenses that has been incurred but have not yet been paid.
Every few months, candidate committees and political action committees, like Residents for a Better Bridgeport, must submit a report of their activities.
There is even a whole section, “Section S,” that is included for the purpose of listing expenses incurred but not paid.
The directions for this legal document read, “The obligation to report expenses incurred arises when the committee enters into a written contract, promise or agreement to make expenditure.”
The State Election Enforcement Commission guide goes on to say, “For example, if a political committee purchases mailers that it distributes in June but is not billed for them until August, the committee would report the expense in Section S…If a committee incurs an expense but will not know the actual cost until it receives an invoice at a later date, it should still report the expenditure incurred in Section S in the period in which it was incurred and provide a good faith estimate of the amount. “
But Residents for a Better Bridgeport, which is the vehicle being used to support Mayor Finch’s initiative failed to report any expenditures or any agreement to make expenditures.
That is a huge violation, and now, the Treasurer for Residents for a Better Bridgeport, Lillian Wade and the Deputy Treasurer, Steve Stafstrom, are facing serious legal repercussions.
The committee failed to report any expenditures or plans to spend money for a website, yet they have a website which can be seen at http://www.residentsforabetterbridgeport.com/
The committee failed to report any expenditures or plans to spend money on mailings and yet they have produced three high cost direct mail pieces which can be seen on that same website. Clearly they spent money or planned to spend money for the design, printing, data, mail-shop and postage related to those mailings. In addition they illegally used a photo of President Obama and appear to have used municipal resources for political purposes (check out the photos of school property and the Mayor.) It certainly appears that the Mayor and staff engaged in political activities on public time.
The committee also failed to report any expenditures or plans to spend money on the four, high quality video advertisements that can be found on the website and on a YouTube channel set up by the charter reform supporters. To complete videos of this quality, expenditures would have needed to take place or, at least been planned, for expenses including script development, site identification, filming, editing and a variety of other expenses associated with the production of the videos.
The videos can be seen using the following links:
Bridgeport – Vote Yes – Length 3:54 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIVwdOvF98s&feature=plcp
Bridgeport – Vote Yes – Shorter Piece 1 Length 1:31 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sssdwlFJGes&feature=plcp
Bridgeport – Vote Yes Shorter Piece 2 – Length 1:55 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y1xYkk_VNQ&feature=plcp
Bridgeport – Vote Yes Shorter Piece 3 – Length 1:31 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjawn109CzE&feature=plcp
In addition, the Political Action Committee, Residents for a Better Bridgeport also violated campaign finance law by failing to include proper “paid for by” disclaimers on the videos.
There also appears to be illegal in-kind corporate contributions from Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company that runs Achievement First Bridgeport.
The video includes people who it implies are Bridgeport teachers. However they are teachers employed by Achievement First. Also, the videos are filmed in classrooms. If those classrooms are in Bridgeport schools, it is an illegal use of municipal resources. If the classrooms are in the Achievement First – Bridgeport School then it may very well be an illegal in-kind contribution of space.
Each of these violations carries significant penalties.
Together they paint a disturbing picture of a group of individuals who have joined together in an attempt to take away the democratic rights of Bridgeport citizens…
They call themselves, Citizens for a Better Bridgeport, but their alleged illegal activities have now earned them a full-fledged campaign finance complaint.
I know, because I submitted the complaint and the corresponding evidence to the State Elections Enforcement Commission earlier today.
Campaign Finance, Democratic Legislators Campaign Finance, Democratic Legislature, Malloy
(Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)
Democrats Complete the Task of Undermining the State’s Public Finance Law
“Senate Democrats gave final legislative approval Wednesday to a budget bill that cuts the staffs of the three biggest watchdogs by about one-third and ends mandatory audits of publicly financed legislative campaigns.”
Mark Pazniokas, of the CTMirror, reports on the successful effort by the Democrats to undermine Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance law.
Karen Hobert Flynn of Common Cause responds, saying “For a minute amount of money to be saved out of the state budget, in the end I fear we have made the watchdogs far weaker and made it much harder for them to do their job.”
The new state budget actually cuts the staff at the State Elections Enforcement Commission by a larger percentage than any other agency, and the budget implementation bill goes on to target the public financing program with a number of changes that will undermine the campaign finance program’s ability to function.
The attack was led by people who have consistently claimed to be the program’s biggest supporters.
Oh remember the days…
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…”
And Speaker of the House Chris Donovan was so pleased with the passage of the landmark campaign finance bill back in November of 2005 that he 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.”
Even now, Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams’ official biography reads, “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 the legislation that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday May 31, 2011, and then the State Senate yesterday, severely limits the oversight of the program by mandating that the State Election Enforcement Commission cannot audit more than 50% of the State House and State Senate campaigns that utilize the public financing program.
Furthermore, it also places extraordinary term limits on those who serve on the State Elections Enforcement Commission, reducing their terms from five to three years; and bars them from serving consecutive terms. The law will ensure that no commissioner has the historic perspective to properly monitor the program.
State Senator Gayle Slossberg, the only Democrat to vote against the anti-public financing proposal was quoted as saying, “I just think that the proposal in front of us undermines the independence and the integrity of the watchdog agencies,”
Although the Malloy Administration said the cuts to the State Elections Enforcement Commission were necessary to balance the upcoming state budget, Pazniokas’ story notes the irony that only a few days ago Malloy and the Democratic leaders were able to “find” the money to eliminate the $400 budget deficit in next year’s budget thanks to the use of surplus state revenues. In fact, the growing revenues have allowed Malloy to propose using cash instead of borrowing over $600 million dollars for this budget.
A new billion dollars in revenue; but the massive changes to the public financing program were still needed…
At least, that is the situation according to Malloy’s primary advisor, Roy Occhiogrosso, who said “There are difficult decisions. There are difficult spending cuts. There are difficult tax increases…That’s what happens when you have a $3.5 billion deficit.”
But Occiogrosso added that the changes would make government “more efficient and cost effective.”
For the CT Mirror story, go to: http://ctmirror.org/story/12781/election-cops-take-biggest-hit-consolidation