Stench of corruption grows around Malloy

When running for re-election in 2014, Governor Dannel Malloy took a $6+ million public finance grant to pay for his campaign.  In exchange for the taxpayer funds, Malloy swore, under oath, that he would not solicit, accept or use other funds to pay for his campaign expenses.

But Malloy lied and solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists, state contractors and those who have benefited from his corporate welfare programs.  That money, which in the end totaled more than $5 million, was funneled through a special account within the Democratic Party.

Last week a plea bargain deal with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ended with Malloy’s political operatives paying a fine of $325,000 to the state, rather than the $6 million Malloy should have paid.

Not only were Connecticut citizens saddled with four more years of Dannel Malloy, but Connecticut taxpayers are out more than $5.7 million.

See: Malloy’s Connecticut – Ripping off Connecticut while keeping citizens in the dark and NEWS FLASH – Malloy + Dems slammed with record fine for campaign finance violations but slip off the hook

Meanwhile, it a separate situation, David Sirota, the nationally renowned investigative reporter has been covering Malloy’s actions as they relate to the attempt by CIGNA and Anthem to merge.  Both entities, but especially CIGNA have close political ties to Malloy and the Democratic incumbent has benefited from significant campaign donations from CIGNA and its executive team.

David Sirota is the senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.  Sirota’s investigation has led to the following stories in the International Business Times:

Each one deserves a complete read-through, but Wait, What? readers should pay special attention to those marked with ***

***Will Cigna And Anthem Merge? How Health Insurance Companies Pump Money Into Politics (6/1/16)

Connecticut Groups Call For Dan Malloy To Remove Insurance Regulator In Anthem-Cigna Merger (6/2/16)

***Connecticut Rejects Request For Records About Anthem-Cigna Merger (6/7/16)

Obamacare Architect Kathleen Sebelius Questions Proposed Healthcare Insurance Mergers (6/10/16)

Cigna-Anthem Deal: Democratic And Republican Lawmakers Demand Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy’s Regulator Be Removed From Controversial Merger Review (6/10/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Gov. Malloy Signs Secrecy Bill That Could Shield Insurance Information From Public Release (6/13/16)

Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Ethics Officials To Vote On Conflict-Of-Interest Controversy (6/14/16)

***Anthem And Cigna Boost Spending On Lobbying As Lawmakers Review Merger (6/16/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Officials Vote To Launch Ethics Review Of Gov. Dan Malloy’s Insurance Regulator (6/16/16)

Cigna-Anthem Merger: California Insurance Regulators Call On Justice Department To Block Insurance Mega-Merger (6/16/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Ethics Probe Spotlights Similar Conflict-of-Interest Charges From The 1990s (6/17/16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fair?

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

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

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

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

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

Not too many investigators have Charles Urso’s resume:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

NEWS FLASH – Malloy + Dems slammed with record fine for campaign finance violations but slip off the hook

During 2013 and 2014, Wait, What? repeatedly reported on the outrageous campaign finance violations being perpetrated by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his political operatives during his 2014 gubernatorial re-election campaign.  Wait, What? coverage included both original investigative pieces and detailed analysis of the outstanding reporting of the Courant’s Jon Lender.

Now, a year and a half latter, rather than face the full impact of their illegal activities, Malloy’s team “plea-bargained” a deal that was quickly voted on today by the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission.  The deal, adopted by a 2-1 Commission vote , lets Malloy and his team off the hook, although they will be paying a record fine for their violation of Connecticut law.

Had Malloy and his operatives been found guilty of intentionally violating Connecticut’s public financing system, he could have been forced to return his $6 million taxpayer-funded public finance grant that he received in return for swearing, under oath, not to circumvent that law and accept outside donations.  Instead, the Democratic Party will pay a $325,000 fine to make the “problem” go away.

The Hartford Courant, in a breaking story entitled, Agency Approves Settlement That Would End Probe Of Democrats’ Spending On Malloy Re-Election reports;

State election regulators voted in favor of a negotiated settlement to a high-profile lawsuit in which they have been trying to force the state Democratic party to turn over documents including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2014 campaign emails.

The tentative agreement, by the State Elections Enforcement Commission by a 2 to 1 vote with one abstention, would end legal action between the commission and the Democratic State Central Committee dating back more than a year. The agreement is subject to approval by the court in the next day or so.

Final approval means the SEEC would shut down its long-running investigation into whether state Democrats illegally spent about $250,000 on Malloy’s 2014 re-election — as the state Republican party alleged in a complaint — without ever obtaining the documents and other information that SEEC has always said it needed to determine who did what and whether any laws were broken.

Under the proposed settlement, state Democrats would voluntarily contribute about $325,000 to a state fund, in a payment that would not be considered a penalty or fine — and there would be no admission by the party or finding by the commission of illegality or wrongdoing.

The SEEC would drop a pending lawsuit it filed in Superior Court last year seeking a court order that the party comply with an investigatory subpoena it slapped on Democrats in May 2015, and the Democrats would withdraw a suit claiming that the SEEC lacks legal authority to pursue the subpoena. The two sides are facing a deadline on Friday — the day on which their request for a delay in the court ruling runs out.

State Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said in a phone interview Wednesday morning that he thinks that the SEEC should not settle the case and should pursue the probe to obtain the Malloy emails and related documents.

“If the SEEC settles, I think they are wrong,” he said. It would signal that in the future violators of campaign financing laws will know “the SEEC will back down,” Romano said.

Republican state Senate leader Len Fasano agreed, issuing a statement saying: “The SEEC must continue to stand firm and reject the deal…The SEEC has the moral and legal obligation to enforce our clean election laws and protect taxpayers. They need to reject this proposed deal to show that our state cannot be bought. They must complete their fact finding to ensure that transparency and the law prevails.”

Republican state House leader Themis Klarides also issued a statement acknowledging the hefty fine.

“They can call it whatever they want but the $325,000 fine is unprecedented and proves the seriousness of this violation of the law,” Klarides said. “This matter should have been pursed to its conclusion but apparently the e-mails and communications between Gov. Malloy and his lieutenants were so highly damaging that they thought it best to settle the case quietly. Just another blow against transparency in state government that the Governor once bragged about.”

[…]

Talks toward a settlement so far have involved proposals such as state Democrats making a voluntary payment as high as the range of $750,000, but an agreement has been elusive until the current tentative one.

The SEEC’s subpoena demanded documents including potentially sensitive emails between Malloy and top political aides that might relate to 2014 campaign spending that the Republican state party chairman said in late 2014 was illegal.

At the center of the SEEC’s lawsuit is a set of clean-election laws that Connecticut legislators enacted in 2005 after Gov. John G. Rowland was convicted of corruption for receiving lucrative benefits from state contractors. Those laws created a system of public financing of state campaigns, along with a ban on state contractors contributing to the campaigns of candidates for state office.

The bargain for state taxpayers was that, in exchange for having to pay millions in grants to candidates under the public-financing program, they wouldn’t have to worry about contractors and their family members influencing state office-holders with their contributions.

But critics say that Democrats’ campaign spending in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign undid that bargain — by letting contractors’ money into the state campaign through a back door.

The Republicans’ complaint said that state Democrats broke the state’s clean-election laws by paying for pro-Malloy mass mailings with about $250,000 from its federally regulated campaign account, which is allowed by federal law to accept heavy contributions from state contractors despite the state’s ban on contractors’ money going to candidates for state office. Republicans said the expenditure on the Malloy mailings — out of the federal account — illegally circumvented the state ban on contractors’ contributions.

 

You can read more about the Malloy campaign’s action via the following Wait, What? posts

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

Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

Malloy is a fraud on campaign finance reform issues

Malloy’s double dipping campaign finance gravy train

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

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

Malloy, legislature continue to water-down Connecticut’s “landmark” campaign finance laws

Oh…Remember When Democratic Leaders were for Campaign Finance Reform

Dannel Malloy – Stonewalling an investigation by Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission.

When Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy accepted $6.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for this 2014 gubernatorial campaign he signed a contract promising not to accept any other funds to pay for his campaign.

But despite that commitment Malloy and his political operatives funneled millions of dollars through the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s Federal Account in an unethical effort to beat his Republican opponent.  The money that flowed through the Democratic Party’s special account included hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who directly benefited from lucrative state contracts, a move that also violated Connecticut state law.

Connecticut’s bi-partisan State Elections Enforcement Commission authorized an investigation into the illegal activities engaged by Malloy and his political operatives.

But rather than address the issues, Team Malloy has been fighting to stop the investigation.

Not only has he ducked his legal responsibilities as governor and as a candidate for governor, but he is forcing the state to waste massive amounts of public funds trying to get the Malloy campaign and the Democratic Party to stop stonewalling the investigation by the Connecticut State Elections Commission.

The Connecticut State Elections Commission is hardly a partisan body.

Anthony J. Castagno of North Stonington was elected Chairman of the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission in December 2012.  He was nominated to the Commission by the Speaker of the House. Salvatore A. Bramante was nominated to the Commission by the Minority Leader of the House. Patricia Stankevicius of Wolcott was nominated to serve on the Commission by Governor M. Jodi Rell.  Attorney Stephen T. Penny was nominated to serve on the Commission by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Attorney Michael J. Ajello was nominated to the Commission by the Senate Minority Leader.

All were confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.

Let’s re-state that point – ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT STATE ELECTIONS ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION WERE LEGALLY NOMINATED AND CONFIRMED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

But rather than protect the State Election Enforcement Commission’s legal responsibility to investigate what appears to be a major crime, Malloy and his political operatives continue to do everything they can to stop what is an appropriate and necessary investigation into Malloy’s campaign.

Here is the latest news coverage of the effort to stop the duly authorized investigation.

From the Hartford Courant comes, “Final Arguments Turn Testy On Subpoena Of State Democratic Party Documents.”

Lawyers delivered at-times testy final arguments Tuesday in a trial over whether the state Democratic Party can continue to defy a subpoena that demands emails between Gov. Daniel P. Malloy and top aides, as well as other documents relating to the party’s support of Malloy’s re-election last year.

[…]

Central to the case are the clean-election laws that the General Assembly enacted in 2005, after Gov. John G. Rowland was convicted of corruption for receiving lucrative benefits from state contractors. Those laws created a system of public financing of state campaigns, along with a ban on state contractors’ executives and family members contributing to candidates for state office – all intended to banish contractors’ influence from elections.

According to the GOP’s complaint, state Democrats broke state law by paying for pro-Malloy mass mailings last year with about $250,000 from a federally regulated campaign account, which is allowed by federal law to accept heavy contributions from state contractors. Republicans said the expenditure on the mailings illegally circumvented the state ban on contractors’ contributions.

In court Tuesday, Golub reiterated past assertions that the Malloy mailers must be considered “federal election activity” – which federal law requires be paid for out of the federal account, he said.

“Federal election activity” is what Congress has decided “can influence the outcome of a federal election,” Golub said – adding that the mailers fell into that category because, even though they were dominated by photos and praise of Malloy, they included wording that urged people to vote, told them where polling places were and provided a phone number to call for a ride to the polls.

Those voters could also vote for candidates for federal office – in the person of Democratic candidates for congressional seats who were on the same ballot with Malloy. Thus, Golub has said for weeks, the get-out-the-vote language on the pro-Malloy mailers could have affected the outcome of federal congressional elections. It didn’t matter that the pro-Malloy mailers didn’t contain the names of any of those congressional candidates, he said.

However, Osborne said the state and federal laws aren’t incompatible, as Golub claims, and that it might have been possible for the Democrats to comply with both. She asked Robaina to uphold the SEEC’s authority under state law, as “the election experts,” to “carry out a meaningful investigation.”

Her comments echoed what she wrote in a recent legal brief: “The far-reaching implications of [Golub’s] argument cannot be overstated; if the … pre-emption claim is permitted to prevail, in every election in Connecticut where there is a federal candidate on the ballot, which is every two years, the SEEC’s authority to regulate contributions to state candidates will be effortlessly circumvented,” Osborne wrote. “Such a conclusion will reverberate through state elections and even beyond the borders of Connecticut.”

[…]

Golub said that although U.S. Supreme Court decisions generally give deference to subpoenas from regulatory agencies such as the SEEC, they make an “enormous exception” in cases where a party organization’s First Amendment rights to associate politically are threatened.

In such cases – and he said this is one – the regulatory agency needs to make a detailed “showing of need” that goes “beyond just a general suspicion,” Golub said. He said the subpoena seeks two full years’ worth of internal party communications that could cover strategy and internal operations, as well as the names of people who solicit money to operate the party and expand membership, adding that information is constitutionally protected.

But Osborne disputed him, saying emails are often the source of information about improper activity, and the party shouldn’t be able to withhold them because they may be “embarrassing” on a personal level to those who wrote them.

In 2014, Connecticut taxpayers funded more than$33 million in campaign grants to state candidates who participated in the Citizens’ Election Program on the promise that they wouldn’t accept money from state contractors. Malloy received $6.5 million through the public-financing program.

The CT Newsjunkie story on the hearing was entitled, “Attorney For Election Regulators: Dems Tried To ‘Stonewall and Stymie’ Investigation.”

An attorney for state election regulators told Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina that the Connecticut Democratic Party was trying to “stonewall and stymie” an investigation, while an attorney for the party told him they were seeking highly confidential party communications protected by the First Amendment.

Those arguments were made Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court. Robaina gave the attorneys two hours to make their closing arguments. He asked no questions. He has 120 days to make a decision, but told the attorneys he will make one as quickly as possible.

Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne, who represents the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which is seeking to enforce the subpoena against the Democratic Party said the investigation regulators are trying to conduct “is seriously languishing” due to the lack of compliance.

The complaint against the Democratic Party, which spent more than $200,000 from its federal account on mailers featuring Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was filed by former Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola back in October 2014.

The mailers that also included a get-out-the-vote message were paid for with the party’s federal account. The federal account can accept money from state contractors. That creates a conflict between federal and state law. State law prohibits state contractor money from being used on publicly financed candidates, even though publicly financed candidates are now allowed to accept unlimited amounts from political parties.

Osborne said if the party is allowed to get away with this it amounts to a “massive circumvention route” around the state’s campaign finance laws, which were adopted in 2005 in the wake of former Gov. John G. Rowland’s corruption plea for accepting gifts from state contractors.

And the CT Mirror added to the coverage in, “Assistant AG: Democrats trying to ‘stonewall’,” writing

How the Connecticut Democratic Party came to solicit state contractors, regulated industries and beneficiaries of state aid for campaign contributions in 2014 is “highly privileged and confidential,” the party’s lawyer told a judge Tuesday.

David S. Golub, defending Democrats against an investigative subpoena, told Superior Court Judge Antonio C. Robaina in Hartford that the party has no obligation to disclose its fundraising strategy or internal communications.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission has no right to the names of people who solicited campaign funds or the strategy for approaching donors, he said. Donors gave as much as $20,000 each in the two years prior to 2014 election, when the Democratic Party raised more than $7 million.

Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne, representing the commission, said the Democrats were trying to “stonewall and stymie the investigation.”

The commission is attempting to investigate whether the party illegally supported the re-election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last year with contributions from donors barred from giving to state campaigns.

Robaina heard final arguments Tuesday on a motion by the attorney general’s office for the judge to compel the party to produce emails, bank records and other documents subpoenaed by the elections commission.

“This court should order the enforcement of the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s subpoena sooner rather than later,” Osborne said.

Robaina, who gave the two lawyers free rein to spar for two hours, has 120 days to render a decision. The judge asked no questions, made no comments and gave no hint of whether he would facilitate or hobble what might be the most politically sensitive investigation ever opened by the commission.

In trying to quash the subpoena, Golub made arguments aimed at ending the investigation. He is challenging the commission’s jurisdiction and accusing it of trying to reach too deeply into the inner workings of the state’s dominant political party, violating its First Amendment rights.

The case is testing the strength of sweeping campaign finance reforms passed in 2005 after a corruption scandal toppled Gov. John G. Rowland: a ban on donations from state contractors, limits on lobbyist contributions and a voluntary system of publicly financed campaigns.

A central issue is conflicts between state and federal campaign finance law.

While Connecticut law bars state contractors from donating to state campaigns, federal law dictates the rules for raising and spending money that is used for get-out-the-vote efforts in federal election years, when state elections are also held.

The result is state parties maintain state and federal accounts. They are free to deposit state contractor contributions in the federal accounts, which provide significant support for state campaigns by helping deliver voters to the polls.

Essentially, the state has two sets of contradictory campaign financing rules: one provides public financing to candidates who agree to accept donations of no more than $100 and abide by spending limits that vary by office; the other allows state parties to accept maximum donations of $10,000 a year and spend unlimited amounts supporting their candidates.

Malloy benefitted from both systems. He is Connecticut’s first governor to win using public financing, defeating wealthy, self-funding opponents who outspent him in the Democratic primary and general election in 2010.

He was re-elected in 2014 with $6.5 million in public financing and the support of a party that financed a sophisticated get-out-the-vote machine with funds Malloy helped attract, beginning with more than $1.5 million in 2013. That was triple what the Democratic Party had collected four years earlier in the runup to the 2010 election, when it did not control the governor’s office.

And so it goes…..

Apparently laws are for the little people….

When THEY take dirty money it is BAD, but when WE do … well that’s different.

One of this week’s Emails from the Connecticut Democratic Party was another Call to Action to fight the influence of Corporate Money that is destroying our Democracy.

The email urged me to add my name to the historic effort to end the damage that is being caused by Supreme Court’s decision in the infamous Citizens United case that allowed corporate money to corrupt politics in the United States.

The Connecticut Democratic Party’s email reminded,

Ever since the disastrous decision of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, the Koch brothers and their corporate cronies have been buying our democracy out from under us—and we can’t let it stand anymore.

Add your name and call for an end to Citizens United

NAME: Jonathan Pelto

SIGNATURE: PENDING

We have some bad news for you: your money is being used to help radical Tea Party Republicans win.

We know this is a shock to you—but it’s sadly true. That’s because HUGE corporations—where we buy our groceries, our gas for our cars, cleaning supplies—have unlimited influence over our elections, and they are POURING money into races to try to elect radical right-wing Republicans.

Had enough of this? We sure have. Sign on to end the deluge of corporate money into our elections.

With a simply click I could act on the outrage of HUGE corporations buying American politics.

I could add my name to the Democratic Party’s outrage about “the deluge of corporate money into our elections.”

One click and I would be standing side by side the Connecticut Democratic Party fighting the terrible fact that;

HUGE corporations —where we buy our groceries, our gas for our cars, cleaning supplies—have unlimited influence over our elections…

Of course the Democratic Party’s argument is a “bit” disingenuous.

Despite Connecticut’s extraordinary effort to ban corporate and state contractor money from contaminating Connecticut politics following disgraced Governor John Rowland’s resignation, Governor Malloy and the Democratic Party watered down those laws and used loopholes to take the very corporate contributions they now claim that oppose.

Even worse, not only did they open the flood gates to allow corporate and state contractor money to undermine our democracy here in Connecticut, but they are actively engaged in an effort to prevent the Connecticut’s State Election Enforcement Commission from investigating the apparent illegal activities that Malloy and the Democratic Party engaged in during last year’s gubernatorial campaign. (See Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party and Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee – In plain English it’s called obstructing Justice.

And what corporate money have the Connecticut Democrats taken?

Dannel Malloy’s Re-Election and the 2014 Election Cycle AMOUNT
AETNA INC. PAC $2,500.00
ALCOA INC. PAC $2,500.00
ALEXION PAC $2,500.00
ALVAREZ & MARSAL HOLDINGS LLC PAC $5,000.00
AT&T INC. PAC $5,000.00
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION PAC $5,000.00
BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PAC $7,500.00
CBS CORPORATION PAC $1,000.00
CERNER CORPORATION PAC $2,500.00
CIGNA CORPORATION PAC $10,000.00
COMCAST CORPORATION PAC $10,000.00
COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION PAC $5,000.00
COVANTA ENERGY CORPORATION PAC $8,500.00
DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM PAC $5,000.00
DOMINION PAC $3,500.00
ENTERPRISE HOLDINGS INC. PAC $1,000.00
FOX PAC $5,000.00
FUELCELL ENERGY PAC $2,500.00
GENERAL DYNAMICS PAC $5,000.00
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY PAC $10,000.00
GHC ANCILLARY CORPORATION PAC $4,000.00
HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP INC PAC $10,000.00
HNTB HOLDINGS LTD. PAC $5,000.00
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL PAC $5,000.00
JOHNSON & JOHNSON PAC $5,000.00
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION PAC $1,000.00
MAXIMUS INC. PAC $5,000.00
NORTHEAST UTILITIES PAC $2,500.00
PFIZER INC. PAC $10,000.00
PRAXAIR, INC. PAC $5,000.00
PUBLIC SERVICE ENTERPRISE PAC $1,000.00
PURDUE PHARMA PAC $5,000.00
SAFELITE GROUP INC. PAC $2,000.00
SPECTRA ENERGY CORP PAC $5,000.00
SYNERGY PAC $5,000.00
THE NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA INC. PAC $2,000.00
THE PHOENIX COMPANIES PAC $3,500.00
THE TRAVELERS COMPANIES PAC $10,000.00
THE WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS PAC $5,000.00
THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC INC. PAC $2,000.00
UNITEDHEALTH GROUP, INC. PAC $10,000.00
WAL-MART STORES INC. PAC FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT $5,000.00
WALGREEN COMPANY PAC $2,500.00
WEBSTER BANK PAC $3,000.00
WELLPOINT, INC. PAC $7,000.00
XEROX CORPORATION PAC $5,000.00
XL AMERICA. INC. $1,500.00

 

Even more money in 2015… AMOUNT
ANTHEM, INC. PAC $5,000.00
CIGNA CORPORATION PAC $2,500.00
COVANTA ENERGY CORPORATION PAC $1,000.00
DOMINION RESOURCES INC. PAC $2,500.00
ECHOSTAR CORPORATION AND DISH NETWORK CORPORATION PAC $3,000.00
FOX PAC $2,000.00
GDF SUEZ ENERGY NORTH AMERICA, INC. PAC $1,000.00
GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY PAC $5,000.00
H&R BLOCK INC. PAC $2,000.00
HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP PAC $5,000.00
HNTB HOLDINGS LTD. PAC $2,500.00
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL PAC $2,500.00
MAXIMUS INC. PAC $1,000.00
PFIZER INC. PAC $5,000.00
PITNEY BOWES, INC. PAC $5,000.00
PURDUE PHARMA PAC $5,000.00
RETAIL, WHOLESALE & DEPARTMENT STORE PAC $2,000.00
SAFELITE GROUP INC. PAC $3,000.00
THE PHOENIX COMPANIES PAC $1,500.00
THE TRAVELERS COMPANIES PAC $5,000.00
UGI CORPORATION PAC $3,000.00
UNITEDHEALTH GROUP, INC. PAC $5,000.00
WAL-MART STORES INC. PAC FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT $1,000.00
WEBSTER BANK PAC $5,000.00
XEROX CORPORATION PAC $1,000.00

 

Malloy continues to coddle Connecticut’s Charter School Industry

The massive financial investment the charter school industry made in Malloy’s last gubernatorial campaign appears to be paying off yet again as Governor announces a new plan to cut state spending.

As the CT Mirror is reporting in an exclusive article entitled, Malloy pitches $350M in cuts; GOP wants mix of cuts, labor savings;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy presented legislators Thursday with almost $350 million in budget-cutting options that would fall heavily on social services, education and municipal aid, according to documents obtained by The Mirror.

Details are scarce, but in classic fashion, Malloy is targeting the majority of his new budget cuts on health care, human services, education and Connecticut’s Public institutions of higher education.

Malloy’s list of “cuts” includes $2.3 million “less” for Connecticut’s privately owned but taxpayer funded charter schools…but such a claim obscures the truth.

According to the CT Mirror, the Charter School “cut is possible because fewer students enrolled in charter schools than the state budget provided. This happened because the State Board of Education approved a smaller expansion of charter schools than initially anticipated.”

However the real truth is that as a result of Malloy’s demand that charter schools get the money they wanted, the present Connecticut budget includes $8.6 million more for Charter Schools this year and an additional $13.1 million more in next year’s budget.

Lest people fall for the claim that Charter Schools are being “cut,” even if Malloy’s latest proposal is adopted, the Charter Schools – which refuse to educate their fair share of students with special education needs and those who aren’t fluent in English – will still be getting $6.3 million more this year and a total of $19.4 over the two year budget period.

While protecting charter schools, who proved to be among his largest campaign donors, Malloy’s new spending plan actually includes a variety of significant cuts to public education programs including a $15 million cut in the school transportation grant which will simply shift the burden for those costs onto local property taxpayers.

In addition, while protecting charter schools and cutting public schools, Malloy returns to one of his favorite targets, proposing an additional $28 million in cuts to UConn and the Board of Regents (Connecticut State University and Community Colleges).

Malloy is also proposing to cut an additional $16.5 million to Connecticut’s hospitals, many of which are already unable to maintain their present level of services due to Malloy’s previous budget cuts.

The CT Mirror is also reporting that;

Meanwhile, leaders of the legislature’s Republican minority offered an array of spending cuts and new restrictions on state employees’ wages and benefits, all of which presumably would require negotiations with labor unions.

You can read the full CT Mirror article at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/11/12/malloy-pitches-350m-in-cuts-gop-wants-labor-concessions/

Campaign Finance Violations will follow Bronin (Win or Lose)

Call it Pay-to-Play or Play and Pay…

Greenwich native and Hartford mayoral wannabee Luke Bronin has not only run the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, but his campaign that has made a mockery of Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Laws.

Win or lose, Luke Bronin will be facing the State Elections Enforcement Commission to address his significant and far-reaching violations of the State’s laws about who can donate and how campaign donation’s must be reported.

As part of his unprecedented effort to buy the Hartford Mayor’s Office, Bronin and his political operation violated numerous provisions of the Connecticut’s election laws including the failure to properly disclose contributions from lobbyists and from companies and individuals who have contracts with the City of Hartford.

As Bronin’s campaign finance reports indicate, his campaign failed to accurately identify more than 80 percent of the lobbyists who donated to his campaign and well over 100 individuals who have contracts with the City of Hartford.

The reports suggest that Bonin and his campaign have also violated even more significant provisions of the law.

Any issues that have not already been raised in complaints to the State Elections Enforcement Commission will be included in a wrap-up complaint that will be filed with the state authority in the next couple of days.

Interestingly, while the breadth of campaign violations are obvious, the Hartford Court chose not to cover the issue at all.

The following are some of the Wait, What? posts about Bronin’s campaign, others can be found on the Blog;

Do I hear $170 a vote? Going Once, Going Twice, Sold to the man from Greenwich

Billionaires for Bronin

Bronin reports another $174,000 collected with seven days to go until Election Day

Once home to WFSB Channel 3 – the upscale apartment project is now a source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin.

And now Luke Bronin is collecting big bucks from developers of the Hartford Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium

Luke Bronin and his campaign know – Campaign Donation Limits are for Losers

Luke Bronin the “outsider” is looking more and more like an “insider” – the Carlos Lopez Story

Outside money turns Hartford Democratic Town Committee into a Luke Bronin slush fund

Hartford parking lots a Goldmine for Luke Bronin

Operating pay to park garages and lots in Hartford is extremely profitable and campaign finance reports indicate that parking garage and lot operators in Hartford have been lining up to give Greenwich native Luke Bronin large donations for his campaign to become Hartford’s Next Mayor.

LAZ Parking, owned by Alan Lazowski, operates at least 12 major pay to park garages and another 5 pay to park lots in Hartford.  Lazowksi also owns that LAZ Fly Economy Airport Parking at Bradley Airport.  Lazowski, his wife and other corporate officers and employees have donated at least $7,000 to Bronin’s campaign.  Lazowski has kicked in two $1,000 checks, one before and one after the September 16 Democratic primary, while his wife, the company’s COO and other executives have donated thousands more.

While LAZ Parking dominates the parking garage market in Hartford, ProPark Inc. is the leader in the lot market with 11 pay to park lots and 2 garages.  Owned by John Schmid of Litchifield and other ProPark Inc. management team have dropped at least $5,000 on Bronin.

The story of Hartford’s Connecticut Parking Services owner Carlos Lopez was featured in the Wait, What? post entitled, Luke Bronin the “outsider” is looking more and more like an “insider” – the Carlos Lopez Story.  CT Parking Services operates a garage and lot in Hartford.

Lopez, who is a Farmington, Republican gave Bronin $1,000 and donated another $2,000 to the Hartford Democratic Town Committee to help with Bronin’s Get-Out-The-Vote effort. Lopez’s family, associates and employees gave Bronin an additional $5,000 on top of that.

The lucrative parking garage and lot contracts are handed out by the Hartford Parking Authority, a five member commission appointed by the Mayor.  The Chair of the Hartford Parking Authority is none-other-than state lobbyist Paddy LeShane, who along his her husband Patrick Sullivan run one of the most influential lobbying firms in Connecticut.   Both LeShane and Sullivan have become generous contributors to Bronin’s political aspirations.

Bronin has also collected checks form other parking companies including Park Ride Fly USA, Roncari and Park New Haven.

Companies that contract with the City of Hartford have proven to be among Luke Bronin’s biggest sources of campaign cash.  According to his campaign finance reports, at least sixty-six (66) companies with large city contacts have donated to his campaign, some having donated tens of thousands of dollars.

Calculating the full amount of money Hartford City contractors have given to Bronin is impossible because more than 100 donations from contractors are not coded as such, a major violation of Connecticut’s campaign finance law.  One of the problems with the Bronin for Mayor campaign finance reports is that the reporting errors are so prevalent that one might guess that they are miscoded to cover-up how much contractor and lobbyist money has flowed into his campaign war chest.

Stadium Developers give big to Luke Bronin – Sarah Bronin responsible for approving big changes that Stadium Developers want

The City of Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 260 Constitution Plaza, Plaza Level Conference Room, Hartford, CT 06103 at 6:00 p.m. on the developers plan to modify the DoNo Hartford Development Project.

Sara Bronin, wife of Harford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, is the Chair of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission.

The contact between the City of Hartford and the developers of the Dunkin Donut Baseball Stadium and the entire DONO Downtown North Development Project required that construction on Phase II (Parcel E), which includes the desperately needed north-end grocery store, was to begin no later than November 1, 2015.

However, the developers failed to fulfill that responsibility and now want permission from the City of Hartford to delay and modify the construction plan related to Phase II (Parcel E).

The conflict of interest that Sara (and Luke) Bronin face is obvious.

As reported in a Wait, What? post on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 entitled, Bronin reports another $174,000 collected with seven days to go until Election Day, the Greenwich native who moved to Hartford and now wants to be Hartford’s next mayor revealed in his latest campaign finance report that he had raised another $11,750 from the developers of Hartford’s new Dunkin Donuts Yard Goats Baseball Stadium and the DONO Project.

The latest bundle of stadium money comes in addition to the thousands of dollars Bronin had already collected from those whose who are directly benefiting financially from the stadium contract.  (See: And now Luke Bronin is collecting big bucks from developers of the Hartford Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium)

Having sharply criticized the stadium project earlier in the campaign, Bronin waited until after the reporting deadline for the September 16, 2015 Democratic primary to start collecting a large amount of campaign money from the contractors hired to build the DONO project including the new baseball stadium.

In recent weeks, Luke Bronin has raised tens of thousands of dollars from a number of the DONO contractors including Centerplan Development, Centerplan Construction Company, JCJ Architecture, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy.

Four of the leading companies involved in the DONO Development Project are owned by lead developer Bob Landino who is a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.  The developers are represented before the City of Hartford by the law firm that is led by Tom Ritter, the former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

While Luke Bronin’s flip-flop on the stadium issues is newsworthy on its own, the immediate and more incredible news development may very well be that the developers of the Hartford Stadium donated to Luke Bronin at the exact same time that the stadium developers are seeking to modify the project after having failed to break ground, as required, on Phase II of the DONO project.

With no construction taking place on the grocery store, housing and other elements of Phase II (Parcel E), Luke Bronin’s wife will be convening a Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday – the day after Election Day – to approve changes that release the Stadium Developers from their commitment to begin Phase II and to make significant changes to the scope of Phase II.

While the developers have sought to trivialize their change in plans, their failure to follow through on their commitments concerning Phase II has a profound impact on the project and the credibility of those behind the entire Hartford Downtown North Development scheme.

The Hartford Courant reported on importance of Phase II this past summer in an article entitled, Developers To Break Ground On Downtown North Grocery Store In October,

City officials and developers of the Downtown North project, which includes retail, housing and a baseball stadium, said Wednesday that they will break ground on a parcel that includes a grocery store by late October.

Yves-Georges A. Joseph II, vice president of development for Centerplan, said the developers don’t yet have a supermarket operator on board, but they are in conversations with operators.

Joseph, who attended a forum on the Downtown North project Wednesday at the city’s public library, said the deadline to begin construction is Nov. 1.

The area, known as Parcel E, is the first phase of housing and retail in the project. The parcel, which would include 328 apartments, a grocery store, a fitness center, other shops and parking, would be located across Main Street from a 9,000-capacity minor league baseball stadium.

Joseph said Wednesday that if developers don’t reach a deal with a supermarket operator, “we as an organization will own or operate a supermarket.”

The Hartford Courant’s June 2015 story ended with,

Panelists at Wednesday’s forum, sponsored by Hartford 2000, expressed skepticism about the developer’s ability to bring in a supermarket.

Denise Best, a North End activist, said many promises have been made and broken by city leadership.

So now October has come and gone and there is no sign of any construction related to the grocery store, or the associated housing, fitness center, shops and parking.

What has occurred over the last few weeks is that the developers have become a major source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin’s campaign for Mayor and, the day after Election Day, Bronin’s wife will be chairing the Commission that is supposed to hold the developers accountable for their failure to produce as promised.

Do I hear $170 a vote? Going Once, Going Twice, Sold to the man from Greenwich

Hartford Courant columnist and fellow blogger Kevin Rennie has reviewed candidate Luke Bronin’s campaign finance reports and has discovered another disturbing fact.

Not only has Greenwich native and political newcomer run the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, but Bronin ended up paying a truly shocking amount of money for each vote he received in his successful effort to be crowned the Democratic Party’s nominee for Mayor of Hartford..

In a post entitled, Democrats Will Be Outraged: Bronin Spent $170 a Vote in Primary Win Over Segarra, Kevin Rennie writes;

Democrat Luke Bronin spent more $872,625 to garner 5,110 votes in his September 16th primary victory over incumbent Pedro Segarra in their race for mayor of one of the state’s poorest communities, according to campaign finance reports. That’s $170.76 a vote, a figure that will evoke howls of protest from the traditional voices of campaign spending restraint. Those voices were curiously muted as Bronin rolled over Segarra in their showdown.

Bronin’s last campaign finance report before the primary showed the Greenwich plutocrat spent $673,821.75. That reporting period included expenses from July 1st through September 7th. Bronin’s post-primary report shows an additional $198,804 in payments made up to and including primary day.  It includes more than 100 payments of $125 for primary day field work. The largest expense was a $53,224.77 payment for commercial broadcast time.

Rennie article, strengthened be a great complementary video, can be found on his blog at: http://www.dailyructions.com/democrats-will-be-outraged-bronin-spent-170-a-vote-in-primary-win-over-segarra/

Readers may remember that it was Kevin Rennie who broke the story about Luke Bronin’s wife, Sara Bronin, having used her state employee account in support of Bronin’s campaign for Mayor.  (See: Sara Bronin Has a Primary Request–and Sent It From Her UConn Email Account.  Followed by Wait What?’s Luke & Sara Bronin and the “Laws are only for the Little People” Crowd)

It is unclear whether the State Auditors have begun an investigation into Sarah Bronin’s illegal use of her email account, but in the past state employees have lost their jobs or been put on lengthy periods of unpaid leave for using their state email accounts for political activities.