For weeks, Hartford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin was breaking Connecticut law by accepting a significant in-kind corporate contribution from the New York public relations firm that had hired Governor Dannel Malloy’s former spokesperson.
By using Andrew Doba as his own Press Secretary and Communications Director Bronin was violating two of Connecticut’s most important campaign finance laws, a prohibition on corporate contributions and a prohibition on contributions in excess of $1,000 when running for mayor.
It was only after Wait, What? reported on the Bronin campaign’s violations that Luke Bronin finally saw fit to end the illegal maneuver. Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission has yet to fine Bronin’s campaign.
And yesterday, it was attorney and UConn Law School Professor Sara Bronin whose activities violated both Connecticut’s campaign finance law, and of even greater consequence, the Connecticut State Statutes that prohibits state employees from utilizing state resources to engage in political activities.
Fellow blogger and commentator Kevin Rennie revealed the latest chapter in the Bronins’ stunning and wonton disregard for the laws related to state employees and campaign finance in an article entitled, “Sara Bronin Has a Primary Request–and Sent It From Her UConn Email Account and published yesterday on his Blog, Daily Ructions.
In 2007, a similar violation by a Department of Transportation employees who was also a South Windsor Republican office holder and candidate led to punishment that included a 6 month suspension and unpaid leave that cost her $8,160 a month in her state salary.
As for Sara Bronin’s action, Kevin Rennie writes;
They are throwing everything they have at befuddled incumbent Pedro Segarra in his Hartford Democratic mayoral primary with Greenwich Brahmin Luke Bronin and Company. Below is an email Sara Bronin, the candidate’s abrasive spouse, sent today to University of Connecticut School of Law community from her UConn email account.
Putting on my Hartford resident hat, rather than professor hat for this community listserve announcement: For those of you who may not know, there is a municipal election happening in Hartford this Wednesday, 9/16, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. One of the Democratic candidates is seeking law student/attorney poll monitors to ensure that the election runs more smoothly than last time. (It was so bad that the State mandated a monitor to oversee the City registrar…) For those of you who want to get some hands-on experience in election law, now’s your chance!
Of course, as Sara and Luke Bronin must certainly know, the Connecticut state laws prohibiting state employees from using public resources to further a political campaign or engaging in political activities on state time could not be clearer.
And those laws have been regularly enforced…
In a similar situation in 2007, the focus was on Janice Snyder, a South Windsor Republican and DOT employee.
On November 3, 2007, the Hartford Courant wrote;
The chairwoman of the board of education, a Republican up for reelection Tuesday, has been placed on paid administrative leave from her job at the state Department of Transportation after local Democrats asked for copies of e-mails sent to and from her work e-mail account.
Janice Snyder, who has worked 32 years for the state Department of Transportation, was placed on leave Monday. Judd Everhart, a DOT spokesman, said Snyder would remain on leave “pending an internal investigation of the use of her computer.” Snyder is an assistant director of purchasing for the DOT.
The e-mails came to light after a member of South Windsor’s Democratic Town Committee sent a request under the state Freedom of Information Act to DOT Commissioner Ralph Carpenter.
While Snyder was eventually allowed to return to work, her punishment for violating Connecticut law was significant and costly.
Lets face it…Claiming ignorance of the law won’t be a good defense, especially since both Luke and Sara Bronin received their law degrees from the prestigious Yale University School of Law.
Perhaps even more relevant is the fact that Luke Bronin, who served as Governor Malloy’s chief lawyer from 2013-2015 and collected nearly $400,000 in taxpayer funded salary and benefits knows, or should have known, all about Connecticut’s ethics and campaign finance laws.
And there is certainly no excuse for Sara Bronin, who as a law professor at the UConn School of Law, has collected, over the years, a publicly funded salary and benefits in excess of $780,000 from the University of Connecticut.
The truth is that when other state employees and candidates have violated Connecticut State Law they have been held accountable.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether these two key allies of Governor Malloy are treated differently than everyone else has and would be treated.
Maybe, in the end, the Bronins are right… Maybe when you travel in the “right” circles you get to play by a different set of rules because, when all is said and done, the laws really are only for the Little People.