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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Democrats Malloy, Wyman and the CT Dem Party disavow Ed Marcus’ disgusting attack on Sanders and all Democrats?

Former Connecticut Democratic State Chairman Ed Marcus is, among other things, a thug.

After serving for ten years in the Connecticut General Assembly, six of which I also worked as the Connecticut Democratic Party’s Political Director, I left Connecticut politics in 1993.

I ended my career in elective office and Democratic Party politics a number of reasons, the primary one being that I wanted to be an active, engaged and hands-on father for my newborn daughter.

However, in addition, I left because the Democratic State Central Committee selected Ed Marcus to be the Party’s Chairman.  Marcus ran on a platform claiming that he would fire me his first day in office due to my legislative work on behalf of a fairer and more progressive state tax structure that included a new state income tax.  He also condemned my “liberal” politics.  It was with a sense of honor that I cleaned out my office and left Democratic Headquarters the day Marcus became its leader.

Today, just like back then, Ed Marcus was utterly unable to recognize that the underlying principle of being a Democrat begins with the concept that a Democrat believes in democracy (a word that beings with a lower-case d).

Now, in a truly unbelievable and disturbing commentary piece in the CT Mirror entitled, Letting Sanders run as a Democrat was a big mistake by the DNC, the former head of the Connecticut Democratic Party proclaims that Bernie Sanders is not “Democrat” enough to run for President as a “Democrat.”

For those of us who were brought up to believe in the principles that motivated millions of Democrats to support and vote for elected officials who would make our towns, states, nation and our world better, safer and healthier places to live and raise a family, a world in which the most important elements of an egalitarian society would exist for ourselves and our children, Ed Marcus’ diatribe is nothing short of hate speech.

And thus it requires an immediate and uncompromising response from Connecticut’s “so-called” Democratic Leaders:

Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy

Connecticut Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman

Connecticut Democratic Chairman Nick Balletto Jr.

 The spotlight is on you!

Do you totally and completely disavow the repugnant and idiotic words of Ed Marcus.

This is not about whether one intends to vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, although Marcus makes an excellent case for why Democrats should be voting for a real change.

The is about the meaning of American democracy and being a Democrat;

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Democrats, here in Connecticut and across the nation, can read and comment on Marcus’ “commentary piece” at  It is also reposted below.

Democratic Leaders must immediately speak out against Ed Marcus and others who, if unchallenged, will destroy what is left of the historic Democratic Party.

Letting Sanders run as a Democrat was a big mistake by the DNC  (By Former Connecticut Democratic State Chairman Ed Marcus

Bernie Sanders.  A Democrat.  Really?

Sanders has run and been elected as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont; run for and been elected a Vermont Congressman; and run and been elected as a U.S. senator from Vermont. In none of those elections has he ever identified himself as a Democrat. He has run as either a socialist, or independent, but never as a Democrat.

So how is he able to run as a Democrat in 2016? I guess we would have to ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.  She is directly responsible for permitting Sanders, an avowed socialist, to run as a Democrat.  Did she think it would just be a good workout for Hillary, or did she not have the guts to say no?

I believe that it is the latter. What the Democratic National Committee has done to the Democratic Party by declaring Sanders eligible to run as a Democrat is to force Hillary to spend time, money, and energy that could have been devoted to the general election against a Republican.

Sanders is so far to the left that he could never be elected as President, despite his recent showing in the New Hampshire primary.  His values, and that of most of us who have been lifetime Democrats, are not the same.

It is easy to attract support from college kids who know nothing about the real world.  In Connecticut he’ll get help from people who see support for Sanders as a way of becoming a delegate to the National Convention, as well as from those who believe in distributing other people’s money to those who may not be as fortunate. We already do this by way of progressive taxation, but for some folks that isn’t good enough.

Sanders is an annoyance much in the way of a Jerry Brown in 1992, Ted Kennedy in 1980, and Bill Bradley in 2000. We do not need another George McGovern disaster for the Democratic Party which, particularly in this election would impact every resident of the United States.  If by some weird confluence of events we have Sanders as a candidate, ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz what she possibly could have been thinking.

I think back to the National Convention of 1968, at that time National Delegates were chosen by the delegates to the State Convention and the State Convention was basically controlled by the late John Bailey who was then both chairman of the State Democratic Party and chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Bailey did not want a primary since that would have been embarrassing to him and a sign of lack of leadership to the people in Washington, including Hubert Humphry who was the “establishment candidate.”

What happened was that Bailey, Catherine Quinn who was Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee, and myself, along with one or two other people whose names I can’t recall, met in the so-called “Green Room” at the Bushnell and decided that we would give the people who were supporting U. S. Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota (who ran against Humphry at the convention) 12 delegates. Among the delegates selected was Paul Newman, his wife Joanne Woodward, Arthur Miller, Irving Stolberg who later became Speaker of the House in the state General Assembly.  At that time I was the Senate Majority Leader.

I am not in any way implying that it was democracy at work, but it was leadership at work.  The bottom line is Connecticut did not have a divisive primary and although Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon, Bailey was able to hang on to his leadership positions both here and nationally.

Was that system better than the existing one? In all honesty I’m not certain, but I’m also not certain if the existing system works since so much of what occurs in a primary is based on who can get out the vote and who develops a following like the next Messiah, which is what has happened with Sanders.

Sanders raves and rants but basically his theme is generally the same: You would have a better life if it weren’t for the people on Wall Street that make millions and billions of dollars.  Part of that may be true, but this is America and we are a capitalist society and it’s a country where everyone has the opportunity to make it.  All you have to do is look at Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and others like them over the years who basically started with nothing and ended up as President.

Leadership is vital in heading a party both on a state level and national level. I believe that Debbie Wasserman Shultz has failed the Democratic Party and has put Hillary Clinton into a hotly contested primary season — that need not have happened if Wasserman had simply indicated that Sanders, an avowed socialist, who had never before registered as a Democrat, could not run as a Democrat.

In New Hampshire as well as several other states anyone can vote in a Democratic Primary. That is a bad idea and concept. After all it is not a general election and if anyone can vote they vote for in essence against candidates for different reasons. There are many Republicans and some Independents who have supported Sanders only because they know that Hillary is electable and Sander is not.  That type of voting pattern was clearly in play in New Hampshire. It should not be permitted. Cross over voting is not what a Democratic Primary is all about.

There’s no question in my mind that the Democratic Party needs a new chairperson who understands what leadership means, with the gumption and common sense to lead the party, not to permit a non-Democrat to run as a candidate in what after all are Democratic Party Primaries.

Edward Marcus is former chairman of the Democrat State Central Committee in Connecticut, former state Senate majority leader, and principal of Branford-based Marcus Law Firm

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


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
AT&T INC. PAC $5,000.00
DOMINION PAC $3,500.00
FOX PAC $5,000.00
MAXIMUS INC. PAC $5,000.00
PFIZER INC. PAC $10,000.00
PRAXAIR, INC. PAC $5,000.00
SYNERGY PAC $5,000.00
XL AMERICA. INC. $1,500.00


Even more money in 2015… AMOUNT
ANTHEM, INC. PAC $5,000.00
FOX PAC $2,000.00
H&R BLOCK INC. PAC $2,000.00
MAXIMUS INC. PAC $1,000.00
PFIZER INC. PAC $5,000.00


Greenwich Yalie prepares to Save Hartford?

Although Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has been one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest supporters and communities of color make up 85% of the population of Connecticut’s Capital City, Governor Dannel Malloy’s Greenwich raised, Yale and Oxford educated General Counsel, Luke Bronin, recently resigned his position as Malloy’s top lawyer to announce that he was “strongly considering” a run against Segarra in this year’s Hartford mayoral election.

What makes Bronin’s move so bizarre is that, as CTLatinoNews recently observed, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Governor Dannel Malloy are considered to be “longtime allies.”

Mayor Segarra has been particularly supportive of Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative and the Latino Mayor of Hartford has been at Malloy’s side throughout the Governor’s first term, including during Malloy’s competitive re-election campaign this past fall.

While Malloy calls Luke Bronin, “one of my closest advisers,” Bronin only arrived in Hartford in 2013 when he was appointed by Malloy to serve as General Counsel in the Governor’s Office.  It was at that time that Bronin, his wife and children moved from Washington D.C. to Hartford.

To say the Latino community is surprised and concerned by Bronin’s move would be an understatement.  Writing for CTLatinoNews, Bill Sarno recently reported,

For Latino leaders around the state, the announcement that the governor’s former top legal aide Luke Bronin is challenging incumbent Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for the Democratic nomination is raising red flags as to where the governor’s loyalty lies.  Not because of Bronin they say, but because of Governor  Malloy’s current stance of not getting involved in this race, which is being viewed as a quiet nod to his friend and as a betrayal to the state’s Latinos.”

The CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus is challenging the governor’s silence on the matter and it seems the gloves are off.  Its chair, Joseph Rodriguez, said, “We just had a tough statewide election and were successful because we rallied behind the governor, as did the mayor.  It will be unfortunate and a slap in the face to Mayor Segarra, if the Governor chooses not to partake in this primary.”

According to the CTLatinoNews article,

“[A]attempts to clarify Malloy’s position were referred by the governor’s staff to state party leaders who said that it is too early to comment on a possible primary that it is nine months away.  ‘At this time, the governor is focused on governing Connecticut. And when the time comes, the State Party will support the Democratic candidate for mayor,’ said Michael Mandell, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party.”

When Bronin announced that he was leaving his post as Malloy’s top attorney he told the Hartford Courant, “Many fellow Hartford residents have reached out and encouraged me to run for mayor and I’m strongly considering it.”

In addition to graduating with a philosophy degree from Yale University and a Law Degree from Yale Law School, Bronin, who is 35, is a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University in England.  Bronin is also “an accomplished singer and songwriter” and was the lead singer for a country band called Old No. 7.

Before joining the Malloy administration, Bronin worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2009 to 2013, finishing up as an assistant secretary of the treasury where his duties included managing policies related to terrorist financing.

According to his on-line LinkedIn biography, for nine months of the time he worked for the Treasury Department (from late 2010 through early 2011), Bronin was located at “ISAF HQ” in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The oblique reference to ISAF is apparently related to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a “NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan,” whose mission was reportedly to train members of the Afghan National Security Force, assist with the rebuilding of the Afghan government and engage various insurgent groups.

Before his time in the Middle East, Bronin spent seven months as an International Affairs Fellow in India for the Council on Foreign Relations and previous to that, after graduating from Yale Law School, Bronin worked as the Chief of Staff to the President & COO of the Hartford Insurance Company.

While Bronin contemplates a run for Mayor of Hartford, he has landed a job at the law firm of Hinckley Allen, a firm originally out of Providence, Rhode Island but with offices in New York City, Albany, Boston and in other New England cities.  Less than two years ago, the law firm of Levy &  Droney merged into Hinkley Allen.

As for the issue of running for Mayor while holding down his new job, Bronin told the Courant that, “The firm … has made clear that they support my commitment to public service and the Hartford community.”

Bronin, and his wife, Sara Bronin, who is also a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of the Yale Law School, moved to Hartford in 2013 and renovated a brownstone behind the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

Sara Bronin, an architect and lawyer, teaches at the University of Connecticut law school and is the managing principal of Voladizo LLC, a Connecticut consulting firm she founded in 2012.   Her biography explains that, “Sara Bronin is one of the country’s leading experts in the areas of sustainable design, renewable energy, urban development, and historic preservation.

Sara Bronin was appointed to the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission in 2013 by Mayor Segarra and became the Commission’s Chair in August 2014, where she is playing a leadership role in the development of the controversial Hartford stadium project.

Meanwhile, back in Connecticut politics, the CTLatinoNews article reported that Democratic Latino leaders are angry that Malloy’s political operatives are claiming that Malloy “can’t support a candidate at this time.”

The CTLatinoNews article adds,

“The notion that the governor can’t support a  candidate at this time is ‘simply untrue’ [CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus Chair] Rodriguez said.   Adding, ‘He gets involved when it benefits him.   Recently, he supported William Tong, his good friend who had not been endorsed for the nomination, but was a Democratic candidate in the primary.’   Malloy also supported then, Senator Harp before the primary.   While she was the party’s nominee, there were three other democrats vying for that seat.  This tells me the governor picks and chooses the municipal Democratic elections he wants to become involved in.’”

Hartford State Representative Minnie Gonzalez has also weighed in on the issue, telling CTLatinoNews, “Segarra was out there for him (Malloy) but it seems the governor is not supporting our mayor…It was Latinos that got him elected four years ago and again last year.”

The politics behind the politics of the situation in Hartford will undoubtedly become clearer in the months ahead as Luke Bronin moves forward with his possible run for mayor in Hartford.

You can read the complete CTLatinoNews article at:

Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I met my political tracker….

Following my speech to the Working Families Party last Saturday, I held an informal press conference outside the hall with members of the Connecticut media.  While a few of the reporters are relatively new to the state, I’ve known others for well over 30 years.  I have tremendous respect for the role real journalists play in our society and I always try to be responsive to their questions.  Plus, without a big campaign coffer to pay for television ads, media attention will be the most important way for me to get my message and candidacy out to the voters of Connecticut.

As the reporters “peppered” me with questions, a young man that I didn’t recognize recorded every moment on his hand-held video recorder.

As our discussion in the midday sun came to end, one of the reporters was kind enough to introduce me to the videographer.  Although, alas, I did not catch his name, I did catch that he is the Malloy staff person who has been assigned to be my tracker.

What is a political tracker?

Gail Collins is a columnist for the New York Times.  Best known as the first woman ever to serve as the New York Time’s Editorial Page Editor, Gail is known to us in Connecticut as the person who founded the Connecticut State News Bureau, a news service providing coverage of the state capital and Connecticut politics and wrote for a number of Connecticut publications before moving on to the  national level.

In a 2012 commentary piece, Gail Collins explained,

“The trackers are the people hired to follow around a candidate’s opponent and record every single thing he says or does. Maybe he’ll get tired and admit to an audience that he forged his college diploma or that he’s wanted for cattle rustling in Wyoming. Probably not. But it is possible…


So no campaign should be without an opposition tracker. Honestly, if a candidate for the U.S. Senate is not being constantly trailed by some earnest young person with an HD camera, it means that she is so hopelessly behind in the polls that nobody cares if she crashes her car into an Adopt-a-Pet van. It’s sort of insulting. I’ll bet there are borderline candidates out there who hire someone to pose as a tracker just so people will think they’re being taken seriously.

You may be wondering about job requirements. Chris Harris, the spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic research organization that employs 18 trackers, says they need to be “part cinematographer and part political operative” as well as “generally versed in policy and history.”

However, the most critical qualification for a tracker is to know what the trackee looks like. This came up recently in Indiana when a man who was hired to track Representative Joe Donnelly, the Democratic Senate candidate, mistakenly wound up tailing a criminal court judge named Jose Salinas, who believed that he was being stalked by an aggrieved former defendant and went to the police.”

In my case, I’m cautiously optimistic that my tracker will be able to recognize my distinctive look because the whole situation reminds me of Steve Martin’s epic statement in the 1979 movie “The Jerk” when he said

“The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need. My name in print. That really makes somebody. Things are going to start happening to me now!”

That said, I hope that my tracker doesn’t film me in my boxers taking out the dog, but I suppose I should try to live by the words attributed to the great P.T. Barnum who is supposed to have said,  “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.

The only odd thing was that when I asked him if he was working for the Malloy campaign he said that he was actually employed by Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee.

So let me just close with a “thank you” for all those who made donations to the Connecticut Democratic Party thinking it would help create a better, more progressive agenda for our state… Your dollars are paying for a political tracker to follow me around and I suppose I should be honored, so thanks.

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

Democratic State Central Committee’s legacy of using donations to fight pro-public education Democrats

One of the newer Wait, What? readers raised a question in the comment section of the blog this week.  They took offense when one of the blog’s longest standing, and most respected readers, realsaramerica pointed out that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and the State Democrats diverted resources away from beating Republicans and, instead, used the money to try to defeat a slate of pro-public education Democrats… Democrats who had the support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Connecticut Working Families Party.

The new reader, derpdominguez, wrote:

So the great revelation of this campaign is that local Bridgeport politics is backwards and corrupt? Have you been living in this state for the past 40 years? Does it really have anything to do with the state party?

For those who don’t know about last year’s Democratic Primary in Bridgeport for the Board of Education, you can read the earlier Wait, What? posts or here is the abbreviated version;

As many readers know, it seems that every day thousands of Connecticut activists receive emails from top Democratic elected officials and the leadership of the Democratic State Central Committee asking for donations to help bolster the Democrat’s campaign fund.

Most of these emails ask existing or potential donors to “chip” in another $3 or $5.

The emails also inform recipients that ALL OF THE MONEY RAISED will go toward beating Republicans.  In fact, one recent email pledged that the funds raised will, “help us beat the Tea Party Republicans and their multimillion-dollar super PACs.”

However, despite repeated requests for an explanation, neither the Democratic State Central Committee nor Governor Malloy’s political operatives will come clean about their inappropriate involvement in last fall’s Bridgeport Democratic Primary for seats on the Bridgeport Board of Education.

On one side was the pro-charter school, pro-corporate education reform slate that was selected and endorsed by Mayor Bill Finch and his allies on the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.  The endorsed slate was committed to keeping Paul Vallas, the internationally renowned public school privatization czar, on as the head of Bridgeport’s Schools.

On the other side was a slate of pro-education Democrats who were committed to pushing back the corporate education reform industry, dumping Vallas and re-focusing public investments in Bridgeport’s Public Schools.

The challenge slate also had the strong support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Working Families Party.

Although the Democratic Party has consistently claimed that all the money it raises is used to beat Republicans, in an unethical, inappropriate and underhanded move, the Chair of the Democratic State Central Committee, along with the help of Malloy’s campaign operatives, used more than $50,000 in Democratic State Central funds to directly bank-roll the anti-public education slate in Bridgeport against the pro-public education Democratic challenge slate.

The move by the Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee to use its funds to beat Democrats in a Democratic primary was unprecedented.

The day before the Bridgeport Democratic Primary, the Democratic State Central Committee transferred $20,000 to the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to pay for their get-out-the-vote effort and cover the costs incurred by Mayor Finch’s anti-public education slate. One of those expenses was a payment of $3,048.15 to a Portland, Maine direct mail company that produced and sent out a brochure for the anti-public education slate.

Meanwhile, in addition to transferring $20,000 in funds that were supposed to be used for beating Republicans, the Democratic State Central Committee sent its own check to that Portland, Maine company to cover additional direct mail brochures for the anti-public education slate.  Those checks were for 9,471.44 (8/26/13), $3,911.21 (8/29/13) and $4,735.72 (9/10/13).

During the same period, the Democratic State Central also paid Malloy’s political consultants, Global Strategies Group, consulting fees of $7,500 and $5,000.

As an aside, Global Strategies Group was already being paid by “A Better Connecticut PAC” to support the anti-public education slate in the Bridgeport primary.  “A Better Connecticut PAC,” which was set up by ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group that helped fund the record-breaking lobbying campaign behind Malloy’s education reform legislation.  To date, Malloy’s political consultants have collected well in excess of $2.5 million from A Better Connecticut and other corporate education reform advocacy groups.

The real problem is that the Democratic State Central Committee has never come clean about why it spent in excess of $50,000 to beat Bridgeport’s pro-public education Democratic slate, nor have they explained how they managed to circumvent the party rules to use money raised to beat Republicans in a campaign to beat Democrats.

Thankfully, the Bridgeport anti-public education slate lost, Paul Vallas was forced to ride off into the west, and the candidates endorsed and supported by the Working Families Party and the Connecticut Education Association took control of the Bridgeport Board of Education.

So, in short… to the person who wrote, does my potential candidacy have anything to do with Bridgeport, Malloy, the corporate education reform industry and the Democratic state party?

The answer is a resounding …. Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the CT Mirror;

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

The CT Mirror articled noted that Hallinan added,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read about the Democratic Party’s official response in the CT Mirror:

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

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

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

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

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

Malloy continues to cash in on Education Reform initiative

Meanwhile…..John Rowland? No Dannel Malloy

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

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

Over the last few months the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee has been raising money that purportedly would be used to help Democratic candidates beat Republican candidates.

But as Wait, What? readers know from earlier posts, Governor Malloy, Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee syphoned over more than $37,000 in a failed attempt to beat back a Democratic challenge slate in Bridgeport that did not support Paul Vallas or Governor Malloy and Mayor Bill Finch’s corporate education reform agenda.

Rather than use contributions to the State Party as promised, DiNardo and/or the Democratic State Central Committee authorized the expenditure of nearly forty thousand dollars in an effort to tip the scales in favor of Mayor Finch’s Democratic slate.

In the process the Connecticut Democratic Party also appears to have violated a number of campaign finance laws.

Months after the issue came to light, neither Governor Malloy, Chair DiNardo nor the State Central Committee have explained how it is possible that donations raised to help Democrats beat Republicans was spent instead on Democrats trying to beat Democrats.

According to the party rules, “the Democratic State Central Committee is the governing body of the Connecticut Democratic Party between conventions. It is authorized and empowered to take such action and render such decisions as may be necessary to carry out fully and adequately the decisions and instructions of the convention and to promote the aims and principles of the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels…Members of the Democratic State Central Committee shall work to promote harmony among all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, religion or sexual orientation.”

The Democratic State Central Committee is made up of two representatives, one man and one woman, elected from each senatorial district in the state for a term of two year.

In addition to its annual Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey Dinner that raises significant funds, the Connecticut Democratic State Party raises small contributions.

In recent months you may have received emails reading:

“We have to fight back with help from our grassroots donors like you.  While you’re getting ready for Black Friday, don’t forget to add the Connecticut Democratic Party to your to-do list. Can you chip in $10 before Black Friday?  Together, we can continue to support our candidates who stand up for Connecticut’s middle class.”

Or “Our children are vitally important to Connecticut’s future. That’s why Connecticut Democrats are standing behind programs and services that keep kids happy, healthy and on the path to success. With your support, we can keep making progress. Will you invest $10 in Connecticut’s kids?

Or one from Governor Malloy that read, “By making a minimum $5 contribution right now, you allow the Party to help campaigns organize more efficiently, use campaign tools more strategically and contact even more voters between now and Election Day.”

But despite the constant claims that donations would be used to beat Republicans, recent campaign finance reports reveal that Governor Malloy, Chair Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee diverted significant amounts of money to try and influence the Democratic candidate selection process for Bridgeport’s recent board of education primary and election.

According to reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission;

The Democratic State Central Committee gave the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee $20,000 to pay for canvassers the day before the Democratic Primary.  Those canvassers were used to turn out Democrats to vote for the pro-Finch Democratic slate and against the anti-Paul Vallas, pro-public education challenge slate of Democrats.

The Democratic State Central Committee also paid for all three direct mail pieces that were sent out in support of the pro-Finch endorsed Democratic slate.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission report reveals that the Connecticut Democratic Party paid for the following expenses related to the Pro-Finch Democratic slate’s losing campaign against the challenge Democratic slate:

  • $9,471.44 Direct Mail created by March3Media, Portland, Maine
  • $3,911.21 Direct Mail created by March3Media, Portland, Maine
  • $4,735.72 Direct Mail created by March3Media, Portland, Maine

In addition, the Connecticut Democratic Party also made the following expenditures that may or may not have been related to the Democratic Primary.  If they were related, but not properly reported, that would be yet another campaign finance violation.

  • $7,500 Global Strategies, Inc. (Roy Occhiogrosso)
  • $5,000 Global Strategies, Inc. (Roy Occhiogrosso)
  • $1,000 Global Strategies, Inc. (Roy Occhiogrosso)

Missing completely from the Democratic State Central Committee’s campaign finance report is the expenditure for a public opinion poll that was done by or on behalf of the Bridgeport Democratic Party.

And equally serious is the lack of any reported expenditure for Ohlsen research, a Democratic opposition research company from Oregon that was hired to dig up dirt about the members of the Democratic challenge slate and their supporters.   The work was definitely done, however, since information about members of the challenge slate and their supporters were secretly distributed to reporters in the days leading up to the primary and the election… although reporters didn’t print any of that information at the time.  It is not clear who paid for Ohlsen Research’s contract but the company has worked closely with Global Strategies Inc. in the past.

As the dust settles what is clear is that that Connecticut Democratic Party paid for nearly all of the expenses incurred by the Pro-Finch Democratic slate and that the Connecticut Democratic Party appears to have violated state law by failing to report expenditures for postage, polling and opposition research.

What isn’t clear is if the funds were authorized and why donors to the Connecticut Democratic Party haven’t been told that their contributions were immorally and unethically used in an expensive, but losing effort to stop a pro-public education slate of Democrats.

Neither Governor Malloy nor Democratic State Chairman Nancy DiNardo has explained why or how they diverted tens of thousands of dollars in state party funds to support the Finch candidates in the Bridgeport Democratic Primary.

In fact, it is not even clear whether the Democratic State Central Committee even authorized the unprecedented expenditure of Party funds or if Malloy and DiNardo simply took the Party’s money to spend as they pleased.

It is time for Malloy, DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee to come clean.

Malloy/Finch/Vallas lose in Bridgeport but questions remain about role of State Democratic Party

As reported in today’s Connecticut Post article, “City school board tips away from Finch,” thanks to broad support from Bridgeport voters, Democrats and Working Family Party members opposed to Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas, and the corporate education reforms being pushed by Governor Malloy and Mayor Finch have taken control of Bridgeport’s Board of Education.

The change will mean that Kenneth Moales, Jr., Finch’s controversial campaign treasurer, will be removed as chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and replaced by someone opposed to the Malloy/Finch/Vallas initiatives.

The Bridgeport Board of Education race has garnered national attention and is now seen as proof that parents, teachers and public school advocates can use elections to beat back the corporate education reform industry.

The Malloy/Finch/Vallas defeat reiterates questions about what role Governor Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee played in the Bridgeport election process.

According to reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the Connecticut State Central Committee spent just under $63,000 between July 1, 2013 and October 17, 2013.

Of the money spent to support candidates, more than 95% of the State Party’s money went to fund the pro-Finch/Pro-Vallas Democratic slate that lost to the Democratic challenge slate in the September 10th Democratic Primary.

In addition to providing the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee with $20,000 to pay for canvassers the day before the Democratic Primary, the State Party paid for the three direct mail pieces that were sent out in support of the pro-Finch endorsed slate.

Due to what appear to be campaign finance violations, the amount spent on the endorsed slate might be even high.

But despite that massive financial support from the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, the endorsed slate lost by a significant margin and the Democratic challenges have gone on to win control of the Board of Education with the help of the Working Families Party candidates.

Neither Governor Malloy nor Democratic State Chairman Nancy DiNardo has explained why they diverted tens of thousands of dollars in state party funds to support the Finch candidates in the Bridgeport Democratic Primary.

It is also not clear whether the Democratic State Central Committee even authorized the unprecedented expenditure.

One clue about the politics behind the decision to spend money to beat fellow Democrats instead of using those funds to campaign against Republicans may be the fact that of the funds raised by the Democratic State Central Committee, a large sub-group of contributions came from wealthy charter school advocates.

The Democratic State Central Committee report shows contributions totally $20,000 from Jonathan Sackler and his wife. Sackler is on the Board of Directors of Achievement First, Inc. ConnCAN, 50 CAN and has been a major donor to other corporate education reform endeavors including a $50,000 check to support Mayor Finch’s failed attempt to do away with a democratically elected board in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the mayor.

Achievement First, Inc, of course, is the large charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

The Democratic State Central Committee also received $8,000 from Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad whose foundation is one of the three largest corporate education reform funders in the country.

And Richard Ferguson, who serves as Chairman of Achievement First’s Elm City School, donated $2,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee.

As if the rift behind these political developments wasn’t obvious enough, while Governor Malloy  celebrated with Toni Harp in New Haven last night, far from Bridgeport, the Connecticut Post reported that, “Conspicuously absent from the celebration at the Red Rooster Tuesday [where the challenge Democrats and Working Family Party celebrated] were Democratic Party leaders, including Finch. Via an emailed statement, he congratulated the victors.”