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.

 

Billionaires for Bronin

Hartford voters can thank Connecticut’s 4th wealthiest resident for helping provide Luke Bronin with the money he wanted in order to run for Mayor of Connecticut’s Capital City.

In fact, as Greenwich native and Hartford newcomer Luke Bronin eagerly awaits being elected Hartford’s next Mayor, he will need to thank many people for funding his record breaking $1.2 million mayoral campaign.

Among those who deserve “special recognition” are all of those on the extensive list of Greenwich residents who, taken together, donated nearly $100,000 to fund their hometown guy’s dream of leading the City of Hartford and its residents.

And first among all of those equals is real-life Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II whose net worth exceeds $4.6 Billion, making him the 108th richest American and placing him in the number 352 on the list of wealthiest people in the world.

Jones resides, at least some of the time, in a 13,000 square-foot Greenwich mansion that includes a 26-car garage.

Earlier this year, Paul Tudor Jones made news when he gave a TED talk in Canada condemning the “unsustainable” wealth gap between the rich and everyone else.   While stating that he was not only an extremely success but a “proud capitalist” Jones observed that when it came to the reality of wealth inequality, the world was on a “disastrous” path and that if this path was left unaltered, it would lead to revolution.

A few weeks later the Billionaire hedge fund manager purchased a $71 million Mediterranean-style 7-bedroom, 18-bathroom property on the coast of Florida that sports a tennis court, movie theater, swimming pool and gym.

Paul Tudor Jones also owns the Grumeti Reserves in Tanzania’s Western Serengeti. His Sasaskwa Resort, which is located in the Reserve, has been repeatedly rated the #1 hotel in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

According to the campaign finance records, Paul Tudor Jones’s donation to Luke Bronin was hardly his first foray into politics.  The Billionaire donated $200,000 to Mitt Romney’s campaign for President of the United States, although he also hosted a 500-person fundraiser in 2008 for then candidate Obama at his Greenwich home.  Others who have received campaign checks from Paul Tudor Jones include Hillary Clinton, John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, John Boehner (The immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives), Linda McMahon and a long, long list of Republican and Democratic politicians.

On the policy side, the Luke Bronin supporter may be best known for his unquestioning commitment and dedication to charter schools, the Common Core and the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

Not only did Paul Tudor Jones create the Excellence Charter School, the first all-boys charter school in the country, but he has been one of the most significant financial supporters of the charter school front group called Families for Excellent Schools.  Families for Excellent Schools (FES for short) has organized rallies in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a successful effort to persuade Connecticut legislators to support Malloy’s initiative to divert scarce state funds from public schools to charter schools, Families for Excellent Schools even bussed in charter schools students and parents from as far away as New York City and Boston to attend a rally in Hartford last year.  The Connecticut spokesperson for Families for Excellent Schools, who happens to have been Governor Dannel Malloy’s spokesperson is also the spokesperson for Luke Bronin.

Meanwhile, Paul Tudor Jones is not only an outspoken supporter of the Common Core, but in a moment of extreme rhetoric, he even claimed that the move to the “Common Core” was the modern version of John F. Kennedy’s “call to put a man on the moon.”

Interestingly, Jones himself has opening trashed the quality of the education he received.

That said, when the Billionaire was asked how public schools could be improved, he told Forbes Magazine that the solution was longer school days and years, better teacher and principal training and true evaluation and accountability.

Jones added that real culprit that caused the problems in the nation’s urban schools were the teacher unions.  Jones observed,

“What’s happened in the last 20 years in many of the large cities in the U.S. is that the educational system has been dictated by the unions.  They have failed. They get an ‘F.’ What we have now is a failure in the way the teaching corps is organized, administered and deployed.”

But if there is one thing that Luke Bronin has made clear in his campaign for mayor, (it even cost him the endorsement of the Hartford Teachers Union), is that money from Paul Tudor Jones and the other corporate education reformers is far more important to his candidacy than any support from teachers and their unions.

Finally, while Paul Tudor Jones’ pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, anti-teacher agenda has generated its share of controversy, it all pales by comparison to the excitement generated by his remarks about the role of women on Wall Street.

In May 2013 the Washington Post reported on a University of Virginia conference that Paul Tudor Jones spoke at in 2012.

Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones told the audience “that it is difficult for mothers to be successful traders because connecting with a child is a focus “killer.”

As Jones explained;

“’As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it,’ Jones said, motioning to his chest during an April symposium. He was talking about two women who worked with him at a stock brokerage in the late 1970s — two women who married, had children and, according to his account, no longer had the laser focus needed for the intense world of macro trading.”

And as to the possibility that more women will be able to break into the male dominated Wall Street environment Jones added;

“If you told me that this woman was not going to have a baby — certainly can get married but not going to have a baby — then I think it would be a completely different panel 20 years from now,” Jones said. “Assuming that she’s not going to have a baby.”

So Voters of Hartford!

If Luke Bronin wins on Election Day 2015, perhaps he can be convinced to invite Paul Tudor Jones to his inauguration so that the people of Connecticut’s Capital City can meet and personally thank Paul Tudor Jones and Billionaires for Bronin for helping the City’s new leader come up with the cash to run a winning campaign.

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

Having already spent a record-breaking $1 million to try and buy himself the mayor’s job in Hartford, Dannel Malloy wannabee, political newcomer and Greenwich native Luke Bronin has raised another $174,000 for his campaign effort according to a campaign finance report filed with the Hartford Town Clerk late yesterday afternoon.

Bronin and the Hartford Stadium Developers

Bronin’s latest collection plate overflows with another $11,750 from the developers of Hartford’s new Dunkin Donuts Yard Goats Baseball Stadium.  The latest bundle of stadium money comes in addition to the thousands of dollars Bronin had already raised 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)  The additional bundle of checks to pay for Luke Bronin’s political aspirations includes a $1,000 check from lead developer Bob Landino.

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 the big money from contractors hired to build the new baseball stadium.

However, in recent weeks, Bronin has more than made up for lost time, raising tens of thousands of dollars from DONO developers including Centerplan Development, Centerplan Construction Company, JCJ Architecture, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy.

The Hartford Stadium contributions to Luke Bronin come at the same time that the stadium developers are seeking permission to postpone ground breaking for Phase II of the DONO project which was supposed to include the grocery store, retail and housing portions of the development plan.  The developers are also asking to reduce the amount of housing to make room for a new hotel that they’d like to build instead.

Luke Bronin’s wife, Sarah Bronin, is the chairperson of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission and a special meeting of the Commission has been scheduled for Wednesday, November 4, 2015 (The day after Election Day) to review and approve the stadium developer’s request.

Bronin and the Constitution Plaza Developers

Bronin’s latest campaign report also includes another $1,000 from Abul Islam, the CEO and President of AI Engineers, Inc., the company behind the $17 million publicly subsidized project to build more upscale apartments in downtown Hartford. (See: Once home to WFSB Channel 3 – the upscale apartment project is now a source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin.  This is the second $1,000 check for Bronin from Abul Islam.  (State law allows a mayoral candidate to take $1,000 per person unless there is a primary in which case they can collect a second $1,000 check.)

Bronin and Lobbyist Money

More lobbyist money is also flowing into Bronin’s campaign and his campaign continues to violate Connecticutstate law by failing to properly identify whether a donor is a lobbyist or a member of a lobbyist’s family.  (See: Luke Bronin hauls in Lobbyist cash, generates multiple violations of CT Campaign Finance Law.)

In addition to the massive amount of lobbyist money previously collected, Bronin’s latest report indicates that he has raised thousands more from those who are paid to influence public policy.  Again, more than half of the lobbyists who have donated to Bronin’s campaign are not properly identified as such.

Bronin and Downes Construction

When it comes to getting construction contracts from the City of Hartford, few companies have been as successful as New Britain’s Downes Construction.  The company has built many of Hartford’s new schools and has been involved in a number of other city-related construction projects.  While contributions to Luke Bronin’s campaign from executives and employees of Downes Construction have trickled in during the campaign, the faucet really started to gush in recent weeks with four executives from Downes Construction, including company president John Downes, providing Bronin with a second round of $1,000 checks.

A number of other city contractors also made second round donation’s prior to the close of the latest reporting period.

 

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

In November 2014, the Hartford Business Journal reported on a project called the “Residences at River View,” a new building designed to replace what was once the WFSB Ch. 3 studios.  The HBJ wrote;

Engineer-developer Abul Islam [President and CEO of AI Engineers, Inc. of Middletown, Connecticut] has gotten state and city funding commitments to proceed with opening a $17.7 million, six-story office-apartment tower in downtown Hartford’s Constitution Plaza within two years, authorities say.

Residences at Riverview will have 49 upscale apartments atop some 16,000 square feet of street-level office-retail space on No. 3 Constitution Plaza…

According to the news report, Governor Dannel Malloy got the State Bond Commission to provide $4.2 million for the project and Malloy’s Department of Housing added another $1.8 million.  The City of Hartford is putting up $973,000.  In addition to the $7 million in public funds, the remainder of the project comes via an $8 million loan from “an unidentified lender” and private funds from the developer.

According to the published reports, in addition to the 49 luxury apartments,

“Eight apartments will be earmarked as affordable.”

Enter Hartford Mayoral candidate Luke Bronin;

Two months ago A.I. Engineers’ Abul Islam, a Glastonbury resident, provided Luke Bronin with a $1,000 check to help fund his campaign to become Mayor of Hartford.

A couple weeks later the developer’s son who resides at the same address added another $1,000.  According to Bronin’s campaign finance report, the son is a “Business Development Associate” at AI Engineers, although he isn’t actually listed on the company’s website.

The Company’s General Counsel has donated $750 to Bronin’s campaign so far and two of the company’s civil engineers donated a combined $1,500.

As the Hartford Courant reported last spring,

“All together, there are about 780 units in or near downtown — including 79 new rentals in the South Armory at the Colt complex — either recently completed or now under construction.

In addition, there are another 600 apartments in various planning stages. They include the Capewell Horse Nail Co. factory, the Hartford Office Supply Co. building and the Residences at River View, a new structure to be built at Constitution Plaza.

And that doesn’t even include rentals planned for Downtown North.”

The Courant added,

“For all its potential benefit to downtown, the cost to the taxpayer is substantial. Most of the downtown apartment projects are receiving millions of dollars [in grants and subsidized loans.]”

Of course, not surprisingly, many of the individuals behind the development of these luxury apartments appear on Luke Bronin’s contributor list.

In fact, to get a pretty good sense of those profiting from these development projects, it is probably easier to simply review Bronin’s campaign finance reports rather than comb through the various taxpayer subsidized “public-private” development deals that have been signed by the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford.

Luke Bronin hauls in Lobbyist cash, generates multiple violations of CT Campaign Finance Law

Having spent in excess of $1 million on his initial run for public office, political newcomer and Greenwich native Luke Bronin is expecting the voters of Hartford to make him their next mayor on Election Day – Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

But as Bronin’s campaign finance reports indicate, in addition to running the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, Bronin “wins the award” for collecting more money from state lobbyists than any other mayoral candidate in Connecticut.

In a truly unprecedented maneuver, as of nearly a month ago, Governor Malloy protégée Luke Bronin had already collected more than $25,000 from a total of about 80 registered state lobbyists.

Bronin’s list of lobbyist fans include John Rowland’s former chief of staff, Rowland’s former campaign manager and a so-called “social justice” lobbyist who has become one of Dannel Malloy’s biggest apologists.  As of the last campaign finance report, almost every major lobbyist had donated to Bronin with a number of them donating more than once.

Bronin’s strategy of collecting campaign donations from those who are paid to influence public policy will come with a price.

Connecticut State Law requires all political candidates to identify any contributor who is a lobbyist, lobbyist spouse or dependent child of a lobbyist on their campaign finance reports.  However, of the nearly 80 donations Bronin has received from lobbyists or their families, only 17 (or about 20 percent) are properly identified.

The utter failure to identify contributions received from lobbyists will undoubtedly generate an investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission and, according to state law, each violation could result in a penalty of up to $2,000 per contribution.

Considering that the names of Connecticut’s leading lobbyists are well known to Bronin and to the political operatives running his campaign, the only rational explanation for failing to identify more than 50 contributions from lobbyists on his campaign finance reports is the possibility that Bronin’s campaign was engaged in an effort to mislead the public into thinking that he wasn’t cashing in with those who are paid to influence policy outcomes.

The list of lobbyists donating to Bronin includes a number who represent companies that actually do business with the City of Hartford and many more that have state contractors as clients.

Following Governor John Rowland’s resignation and trip to jail, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a landmark campaign finance reform bill aimed at getting special interest and lobbyist money out of Connecticut politics.  However, Governor Malloy with the help of Democrats in the legislature has significantly watered down the once prominent law.  Lobbyists can not only give to mayoral candidates, but Malloy’s campaign used a loophole in the law to raise a significant amount of lobbyist and state contractor money into a slush fund that was used to pay for Malloy’s direct mail pieces in 2014.

Now, in 2015, Luke Bronin has been raising a massive amount of money from people and business that have contracts with the City of Hartford and the State of Connecticut, as well as lobbyists.

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

In the weeks leading up to Hartford’s Democratic Mayoral Primary, Greenwich native and political newcomer Luke Bronin repeatedly attacked incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra for his support of the minor league baseball stadium that is now under construction in Hartford.

Luke Bronin told the Hartford Courant,

“I had real concerns about it. I still have real concerns about it and our ability to fund it.”

But despite Bronin’s “real concerns” about the stadium, the moment Luke Bronin got past the deadline for making his campaign contributions public prior to Primary Day he started loading up with money from the very developers who were given the extraordinary contract to build the stadium.

Connecticut State Law required that Bronin and any other candidate running for municipal office file a special campaign finance report exactly one week before the September 16, 2015 Primary Day.

However, although the filing date for the report was Wednesday, September 9, 2015, only contributions received by Monday, September 7, 2015 had to be listed on the report.

On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, only hours after a contribution reporting deadline had passed, Luke Bronin received eight $1,000 checks from individuals associated with the stadium developer.

And as Bronin’s latest campaign finance report reveals, the $8,000 collected on September 8, 2015 was only the beginning.

In the following days, the Bronin campaign pocketed additional $1,000 checks from the corporate executives of DONO Hartford LLC, CENTERPLAN DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, LLC, and CENTERPLAN CONSTRUCTION LLC.

Michael Lomardi, Jason Rudnick and Yves Georges Joseph each dropped $1,000 into Bronin’s coffers.

Michael Lombardi is President of Centerplan Construction and Comptroller of Centerplan Development.

Jason Rudnick is President of Centerplan Development and the agent of record for about 20 other companies owned by Centerplan Construction and Centerplan Development’s CEO Bob Landino.

Joseph is Vice President of Centerplan Development.

In September 2014, the City of Hartford selected DoNo Hartford LLC to develop the stadium.

The companies included in DONO Hartford’s plan included Centerplan Development, LeylandAlliance, Centerplan Construction Company, JCJ Architecture, Sports Contracting Group, Urban Design Associates, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy.

Bronin has now collected campaign contributions from executives and employees at JCJ Architecture, Freeman Companies, BETA and Greenskies Renewable, in addition to the money from the companies directly owned by Centerplan.

DONO Hartford LLC, Centerplan Development, Centerplan Construction and Greenskies Renewable Energy are all owned by former State Representative Bob Landino who also formed BL Companies, a successful engineering firm that is also working on the stadium project.

Greenskies Renewable Energy was incorporated into Landino’s “CenterPlan” operation in 2009.

According to the company’s website, Stadium developer Bob Landino serves as Greenskies’ Chairman, Jason Rudnick is Vice Chairman and the three other board members are the company’s original founders, Arthur Linares, Michael Silvestrini and Andrew Chester.

Greenskies’ Arthur Linares serves as a Republican member of the Connecticut State Senate.   Senator Linares’ brother, Ryan, who also served as the senator’s campaign manager, is listed as an Associate for Centerplan Development, according to that company’s website.

The renewable energy company received a lucrative “economic development” package from Governor Dannel Malloy’s corporate welfare program.  In return for hiring four new employees, Malloy gave Greenskies Renewable LLC a $100,000 grant and a $250,000 forgivable “incentive loan” in the spring of 2012.  Greenskies now has the contract to equip the new stadium with solar power panels.

While the stadium developers and contractors may have made additional contributions to Bronin’s campaign as well, a review of the candidate’s campaign finance reports show that despite the “real concerns” that Luke Bronin has about the Dunkin’ Donuts Yard Goat Stadium project, his campaign has collected nearly $15,000 from the executives and employees of the companies directly associated with the construction project.

Of course, even before the checks arrived from the stadium developers, Luke Bronin had already ensured that his campaign was the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history.

As of September 7th, 2015, two months before Election Day, Luke Bronin had already broken the $1 million barrier with $947,628 raised into his own campaign and another $88,000 into the Hartford Democratic Town Committee fund that was helping to pay for a portion of Bronin’s get out the vote effort.

Footnote:

Bronin also took a $1,000 check last month from Dillon Stadium co-developer James Duckett, the CEO of Black Diamond Consulting group whose company is now caught up in the federal investigation into overbilling with that Hartford project.

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

Luke Bronin’s $1 million campaign to become the Hartford’s next Mayor has already shattered the record for the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history.

Under Connecticut law, a candidate committee for the position of Chief Executive Officer of a City (Mayor or First Selectperson) can only accept contributions of up to $1,000 per individual. (Connecticut State Statute Sec. 9-617)

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of State contractors, Hartford contractors, wealthy out-of-state donors and residents of his own home town of Greenwich, Luke Bronin has collected hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of $1,000 checks for his campaign.

In fact, it is fair to say that no municipal candidate in state history has raised as much from those who do business with the State, those who do business with the City of Hartford and those who lobby state government.

But as if that wasn’t all incredible enough, Luke Bronin decided he needed even more money to grease the skids of his political aspirations.

While the letter and spirit of Connecticut law says an individual can give no more than $1,000 to a candidate for mayor, Bronin and his team of political operatives decided that $1,000 per person just wasn’t enough.

So in the sixty-six (66) days between the day that Luke Bronin got the Hartford Democratic Town Committee nomination for mayor and September 30th 2015, the Hartford Democrats collected an additional $88,000 to help fund Bronin’s Get-Out-The-Vote effort.

Of that total, about 80% came from just forty individuals.

As a result of the higher allowable donation level for a town committee, 27 individuals donated $2,000 each and 13 additional people donated at least $1,000 each.

And it should come as no surprise that nearly every single one of those individuals had already given Luke Bronin the maximum allowable contribution of $1,000.

True – Connecticut law SAYS that an individual cannot give a mayoral candidate more than $1,000, but here were about 3 dozen people who were giving far more than $1,000 to benefit their candidate of choice.

Some would call it a loophole, others would say it was the politics of the possible and sill others would recognize it as a flagrant violation of the spirit of Connecticut law.

But Luke Bronin and his campaign will tell you their actions were perfectly legal and that campaign donation limits are …

Well, when you have people with a lot of money and who want to give, campaign donations limits are flexible.

It is just how the “game” works.

Here is a simple example of the scheme

NAME CITY STATE DONATION TO BRONIN FOR MAYOR DONATION TO HARTFORD DTC TO HELP BRONIN
Andrew Bronin Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Dorothy Bronin Stamford CT $1,000 $2,000
Rita Bronin Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Michael McKeever Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Valerie McKeever Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Darrrick Antell Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Susan Sonnenberg Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Sue Ann Weinberg Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Peter Malkin Greenwich CT $1,000 $2,000
Loretta Cohen Harrison NY $1,000 $2,000
Bruce Cohen Harrison NY $1,000 $2,000
Francis Parnes White Plains NY $1,000 $2,000
Mathew Canno Phildealphia PA $1,000 $2,000
Jess Amit Gupta San Franciso CA $1,000 $2,000
Alexander Gupta Miami Beach FL $1,000 $2,000
George Schweitzer Los Andgeles CA $1,000 $2,000
Eugen Berlanti Palm Desert CA $1,000 $2,000
Cheryl Chase West Hartford CT $1,000 $2,000
Andrew Pinkes West Hartford CT $1,000 $2,000
Suzanne Pinkes West Hartford CT $1,000 $2,000
Robert Patricelli Simsbury CT $1,000 $2,000
Majorie Morrissey Hartford CT $1,000 $2,000
William Peela West Hartford CT $1,000 $2,000
Carlos Lopez Farmington CT $1,000 $2,000
Mathew Byrnes Rye NY $1,000 $1,500
Gabrielle Canno Phildealphia PA $1,000 $1,000
Kevin Arquit Harrison NY $1,000 $1,000
Timothy Bannon Glastonbury CT $1,000 $1,000
James Mullarkey Hartford CT $1,000 $1,000
Stephan Hoffman Greenwich CT $1,000 $1,000
Tammy Levine Greenwich CT $1,000 $1,000
Arlyn Gardner Rye NY $1,000 $1,000
Desmond Smith Greenwich CT $1,000 $1,000
Rita Lane Harrison NY $1,000 $1,000

 

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

Greenwich Native Luke Bronin and his campaign operatives bristle at the notion that, having never run for office or been involved in municipal government, Bronin’s brazen decision to grace Hartford with his presence by moving to the capital city and running for mayor is the work of an outsider.

They say Luke Bronin is no outsider.

And maybe they are right…

The truth is that Bronin is looking more and more like just another political insider every day.

Luke Bronin’s $1 million dollar campaign has already broken the record for the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history.

Bronin has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from state contractors, Hartford contractors, state lobbyists, out-of-state contributors and residents from his home town of Greenwich.

But the fact that one of his “most generous” campaign donors can be found on Park Street in Hartford speaks volumes about Luke Bronin’s approach to politics and governance.

Like so many others who contributed to Luke Bronin, Republican Farmington resident and Park Street businessman Carlos Lopez donated the maximum allowable $1,000 to Bronin’s campaign.

Lopez also dropped $2,000 on the Hartford Democratic Town Committee to help with Bronin’s Get-Out-The-Vote effort.

In addition to owning Connecticut Parking Services, which has a lucrative contract with the City of Hartford to run the MAT garage at the corner of Trumbull and Church Streets in Hartford, Lopez owns the El Mercado Food Court and Luis of Hartford, a furniture store.  Both are located on Park Street, which is also the address where he registers a number of other companies.

In addition to the $1,000 from Lopez, Bronin collected $1,000 from Lopez’s daughter, Maria Lopez, who works as a supervisor for Connecticut Parking Services.  A manager and clerk at the Hartford parking garage also kicked in $1,000 each, as did one of the merchants who rents space from Lopez on Park Street.

For those who know Hartford politics, controversy is hardly new to Carlos Lopez.

Some may recognize Lopez’s name from March 2010 when Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, former State Representative Abraham Giles and Hartford City Councilor Vernoica Airey-Wieson were all arrested following a grand jury investigation into municipal corruption in Hartford.  It was Mayor Perez’s second arrest that year on corruption charges.

The fourth person arrested that day was Carlos Lopez.

As NBC Connecticut reported at the time, Hartford Mayor Arrested, Again

Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez walked into the state police barracks to face corruption charges just after 11 a.m. Wednesday for his second arrest in eight months.

[…]

This time, the charges involve former Hartford State Rep. Abraham Giles, 83, who turned himself in to state police Wednesday morning. City Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson also turned herself in Wednesday. All three have been charged with criminal attempt to commit larceny in the first-degree by extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree by extortion.

Perez’s arrest comes after state investigators and a grand jury looked into a no-bid parking lot deal between the city and Giles’ company to run a city-owned parking lot at Main and Trumbull streets.

[…]

Carlos Lopez, 63, of Farmington, was also charged with three counts of fraudulent voting. The warrant alleges that Lopez unlawfully voted in three Hartford municipal elections between 2004 and 2007.

As the arrest warrant made clear, in addition to living in Farmington, being a major donor to Eddie Perez and hosting a fundraiser for Perez at his Farmington home, Carlos Lopez “derived an income of approximately $125,000 yearly from the MAT Garage.”

The more immediate problem, however, was that Lopez had been illegally voting in Hartford.

The MAT Parking Garage

While Carlos Lopez has been involved in a number of business deals in the City of Hartford over the years, he gained the most notoriety surrounding his parking garage contract with the city.

As the Hartford Courant reported in October 2003, Governor John G. Rowland, “along with prominent Republican businessman Carlos Lopez, campaigned Friday on Park Street with Republican mayoral candidate Michael T. McGarry and incumbent council candidates Veronica Airey-Wilson and Robert L. Painter.”

A few months later, Lopez was back in the news as a result of his contract with the City of Hartford.  Turmoil Seen At Parking Agency (Hartford Courant 2/21/2004);

The terms of the contract, offered to a politically connected Hartford businessman, were so sweet that they were bound to raise questions: exclusive control of a Hartford parking garage until 2020 and the guarantee of at least $1 million in fees.

[…]

The proposed contract with Lopez did, in fact, raise questions — the acting director of the parking authority refused to sign it and its former chairman publicly opposed it. The deal was so out of touch with industry standards, they said, that it “jeopardizes the legitimacy” of the agency.

But instead of answering the troubling questions about the contract, three members of the parking authority board secretly signed it — without the knowledge of the director or the fourth member of the board, but with the blessing of the city’s top lawyer.

[…]

The contract guarantees Connecticut Parking $5,000 a month in fees after expenses, with additional “incentive fees” of up to 10 percent of the garage’s net income. The base fees alone would amount to about $950,000 between 2004 and Feb. 28, 2020.

The contract offers $20,000 in attorney’s fees, an item frequently found in legal settlements but rarely on garage contracts.

In addition to the MAT garage, Lopez also picked up a city contract to run one of the parking lots that Abe Giles had been running.   Parking Lot Deal Awarded To Rival (Hartford Courant 6-15-2007)

North End political boss Abraham L. Giles has lost his controversial deal to run a city-owned parking lot, falling short in a bidding contest to manage the property.

The Hartford Parking Authority awarded a new contract Thursday to run the Main Street lot to Connecticut Parking Services, which bid more than four times the $12,000 that Giles had been paying to run the 225-space lot.

Connecticut Parking Services is run by Carlos Lopez, who already has a contract to run the city’s MAT garage. Lopez offered the city $50,000 a year for the contract.

Mayor Eddie A. Perez’s administration gave Giles a license agreement last year to run the lot without a bidding process, without consulting the city council and despite interest from the parking authority to take over the property.

But when The Courant reported the deal in February, many of Perez’s critics cried foul, saying the arrangement was old-style patronage that hurt taxpayers in exchange for helping Perez on Election Day. Giles, a former state representative and current member of the Democratic town committee, is said to control key votes in a district long considered one of Perez’s weakest.

Under political pressure to correct the mistake, Perez asked the parking authority to hold a competitive bidding process.

[When the new contract was handed out, what was Perez ally Abe Giles’ loss became Perez ally Carlos Lopez’s gain.]

And by March 2010, Perez, Giles and Lopez had all been arrested.

As the Hartford Courant later reported, Lopez paid a $4,000 fine and the charges against him were dismissed.

Now, years later, Republican businessman Carlos Lopez, who recently gave Presidential candidate Marco Rubio $4,000, is pumping money into Luke Bronin’s campaign.

And if victorious, Luke Bronin will preside over Hartford City Hall when it comes time to consider renewing the lucrative MAT garage contract.

So maybe it really is time to stop calling Luke Bronin an outsider.  It certainly seems he has mastered the tricks of a true insider.

Meanwhile, some of the other campaign contributions Carlos Lopez has made include donations to Dannel Malloy and to two of the Political Action Committees associated with the Democratic Leadership in the Connecticut General Assembly.

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

Thanks to the behind-the-scenes involvement of Governor Dannel Malloy and some of Connecticut’s power elite, on Monday, July 27, 2015 the Hartford Democratic Town Committee endorsed Luke Bronin to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for Mayor rather than sticking with Democratic incumbent Mayor, Pedro Segarra.

That same day, Dorothy Bronin of Stamford and Andrew and Rita Bronin of Greenwich each wrote $2,000 checks made out to the Hartford Democratic Town Committee.

Over the following weeks, donors from Greenwich, Connecticut dropped another $15,500 into the Hartford Democratic Town Committee’s coffers.  An additional $13,000 arrived from New Yorkers, $8,000 from California donors and large donations from individuals in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Florida added at least $8,000 more.  Most of the checks were written for the maximum allowable contribution of $2,000 per person and many had already given the maximum legal amount to Luke Bronin’s campaign committee.

Although the Hartford Democratic Party reported no itemized contributions from January 1, 2015 through July 24, 2015, according to the Committee’s most recent campaign finance report that was filed earlier this week with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, the Hartford Democrats have raised more than $84,000 raised since Party establishment refused to support the city’s incumbent Puerto Rican Mayor and replaced him on the Democratic Party line with a wealthy, privileged candidate from Greenwich who has never run for office or been involved in municipal government.

The massive influx of campaign cash is particularly telling since over the past five election cycles, the Hartford Democratic Town Committee has never spent more than about $16,000 in a local campaign year.

Campaign Contributions flowing through the HARTFORD DEMOCRATIC TOWN COMMITTEE

Campaign Year Campaign War Chest
   
2015 $84,000+
2013 $16,500
2011 $11,605
2009 $2,430
2007 $5,151

 

In addition to the massive level of donations from out-of-state contributors, the Hartford Democratic Town Committee has also received more than $10,500 from wealthy donors who live in West Hartford and thousands more from campaign contributors in other wealthy suburban communities.  State contractors and state lobbyists also wrote out large checks to the Hartford Democrats following their endorsement of Bronin.

Of the money spent by the Hartford Democratic Town Committee so far this fall, most of it appears to have gone toward Bronin’s “Get-Out-The-Vote” effort on primary day including $10,725.50 to an organization called Voices of Women of Color and $5,150 to Angel Morales who has faced a myriad of arrests, convictions and legal problems while serving as the Hartford Democratic Town Committee’s Secretary, an aide for the Connecticut Senate Democrats, a candidate for the legislature and a campaign worker in Hartford.

Considering a number of the largest donors to the Hartford Democratic Town Committee also gave the largest allowable contributions to Bronin’s own campaign committee, Bronin’s political operation was able to use a campaign finance loop hole to collect as much as $3,500 per person rather than the $1,500 per person that is allowed under Connecticut State Law.

With nearly $1 million raised as of two weeks ago and the majority of those funds coming from state contractors, lobbyists, out-of-state donors and contributors from his home town of Greenwich, Luke Bronin’s campaign for Mayor of Hartford had already become the most expensive mayoral campaign in state history.

Like Governor Dannel Malloy, Luke Bronin is making a mockery of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

Not surprisingly, Luke Bronin and Dannel Malloy have the same set of campaign advisers and many of the same campaign donors, contributors who appear perfectly willing to do as directed to provide the two candidates with campaign donations that far exceed what state law intended to be legally appropriate.

Check back for more about on the state contractors, lobbyists and big money donors who have been pouring money into Malloy and Bronin’s campaign operations.