As noted earlier this week in Wait, What? post entitled, Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his campaign operation has collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign by directing large campaign contributors to make donations to the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account. Much of the money has come from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.
Under Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law that passed in 2005, following former governor John Rowland’s conviction, Malloy’s fundraising scheme would have been illegal.
But thanks to changes in the law that were proposed by Malloy and approved by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2013, the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled yesterday that Malloy’s tactics are an “offensive” violation of the law’s “spirit and intent,” but not illegal.
Details of Malloy’s close call with the law can be found in the Hartford Courant’s Panel Condemns NU Exec’s Pro-Malloy Solicitation As ‘Offensive’ – But Finds No Violation and the CT NewsJunkie’s Election Regulators Call NU Solicitation ‘Egregious’.
As CTNewsJunkie explains,
The State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed a complaint against Northeast Utilities CEO Thomas May Tuesday, but not before offering some harsh criticism of the solicitation the state contractor sent last September to his employees.
“The next gubernatorial election is upon us, and I am asking each of you to join me in financially supporting Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy,” May wrote in his Sept. 27, 2013 email to company managers. The email, which was sent from May’s private gmail account, suggested that donations be made to the Connecticut Democratic State Central’s federal account.
State election law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or the campaigns of statewide candidates. Even though the email solicitation mentioned Malloy’s accomplishments at length, the commission was unable to find that May violated state election law because the money went to the party’s federal account.
“The Commission does conclude that the content of the solicitation by Mr. May is both offensive and disturbing and violates the spirit and intent of the Connecticut state contractor ban,” the 5-0 decision to dismiss the complaint reads.
The Hartford Courant adds,
If May had asked his people to donate to the Democratic Party’s account for state political operations, or directly to Malloy or any other candidate for state office, it would have violated the statutory ban on contractors giving money to state campaigns, the commission said.
However, “[b]ecause the contributions…were deposited into the [Democratic Party’s] federal account which is generally outside the Commission’s jurisdiction, and not to a state [party] committee,” the commission “lacks the authority…to sanction the conduct,” the commission said in its decision.
The underlying problem with the State Elections Enforcement Commission decision is that everyone associated with the Malloy ploy knew exactly what was going on.
The Hartford Courant quotes an SEEC Commissioner as saying,
“To direct money that on its face was being raised for the support of a statewide candidate” – Malloy – “and deposit that money into a federal account, is an abuse not only of what that federal account is intended for, but clearly seems to be an effort to bypass the workings of the Connecticut finance law,” commission member Stephen T. Penny said.
Twice in the past month, the commission put off a decision in the case after deliberating it behind closed doors. “At first blush the conduct of [May] appeared to be an egregious violation…but after a careful review of state law, we were unable to find any specific violations,” Penny said.
In a blistering attack on the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s ruling, State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney issued a statement saying,
“Clearly, NU’s CEO violated the spirit of our clean election law – a law which was once a model for the country. That historic legislation has become a mockery. Gov. Malloy now has a choice to make. He can keep the money he received from NU officials, or he can return it. If he keeps the money, he will place a cloud on our campaign finance system. If he returns it, he will restore some integrity to the system.”
But of course, the likelihood of Malloy returning the ill-gotten campaign funds is zero because on top of the $50,000 he collected from NU are millions of dollars more from other state contractors, as well as, individuals and companies that have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program.
While Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform legislation was rigged to keep 3rd party candidates out of the system, it did do an outstanding job limiting the influence of corporate, lobbyist and special interest funds.
That was before Malloy, with the help of the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly, made a mockery of the law adding a series of loopholes designed to allow Malloy to use public and special interest funds to pay for his campaign.
Now, not only are Connecticut taxpayers giving Malloy (and Foley) $6.2 million each, but Malloy and his political operation are inappropriately, but not illegally, taking millions of dollars from those doing business with the state or benefiting directly from Malloy’s state spending strategies.
You can read more about this development at:
Hartford Courant: http://touch.courant.com/#section/2237/article/p2p-81383792/