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Sunday roundup

by: ctblogger

Sun Sep 21, 2014 at 11:25:47 AM EDT

Headlines:
  • Jon Lender sums up Rowland's arrogance in simple terms.
    How could John Rowland tempt fate again, a decade after his crooked dealings with state contractors sent him tumbling from the governor's office into federal prison?

    How did he not learn his lesson? Why didn't he make the best of the golden opportunities he was given - in the form of a high-paying job as economic development czar set up by his hometown Waterbury pals, and a radio gig as a WTIC-AM talk-show host - after he completed a 10-month sentence that, itself, was considered by many to be a gift from a lenient judge?


  • Unacceptable.
    One in seven children in Connecticut is living below the federal poverty level, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau through the American Community Survey (ACS).

    The rate, while unchanged from 2012, is significantly higher than a decade earlier, said Wade Gibson, director of fiscal policy at Connecticut Voices for Children.

    "The big takeaway from this information is that the state (Connecticut) set a goal in 2004 back when child poverty was one in nine and they said they wanted to cut it in half, but now in 2014, child poverty is much higher has gone from around 10 percent to 14 percent," Gibson said. "So, we're not moving in the right direction."


  • COLLINS: "Tom Foley is poor in campaign promise specifics"
    Indeed, not only has Foley been vague about the business career he presents as his gubernatorial credentials, he is vague about most issues.

    We know he is against Dan Malloy and just about everything Malloy has done as governor. But it is hard to know what Foley is for, besides himself.

    I know he is against Obamacare, because he was roundly supportive of the Republican shutdown of the government last year, in its failed attempt to repeal affordable health care.

    We know he says he supports unions. But apparently that union support wanes when they start demanding things like raises at a company he owns. Then you get rid of them.

    I don't know that he is against gay marriage or abortion, but he actively sought the endorsement of a Connecticut organization that is.

    You would have more luck winning the lottery than getting a direct answer from candidate Foley on gun control and Connecticut's enactment last year of a stricter gun law.

    I would be much more impressed with a Foley candidacy criticizing the incumbent if he made some concrete suggestions for what he would do differently.

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Put him in jail already

by: ctblogger

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 13:49:52 PM EDT

One step closer to justice being served!

In closing arguments, prosecutors said former governor John G. Rowland entered into a conspiracy to hide his involvement in congressional campaigns because he could not sell his "most valuable" political assets in public based on his prior felony conviction.

Jurors have listened to weeks of testimony regarding allegations that Rowland conspired to perform political work for two congressional campaigns while keeping the payments hidden from election regulators.

The trial was poised to be handed over to the jury Thursday with lawyers from both sides making their closing statements. U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei told the jury that the conspiracy was born of the former governor's desire to make use of his political expertise.

But that expertise was overshadowed by the negative baggage Rowland carried from his 2004 corruption conviction, which saw him resign from office before being sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

"Mr. Rowland couldn't sell his most valuable assets on the open market, but if he could keep it hidden, maybe then he could," Mattei told the jury.

Instead, Mattei said Rowland drafted a rejected proposal to work for 2010 congressional candidate Mark Greenberg and be paid as a consultant for Greenberg's nonprofit animal shelter. Later, Mattei said, Rowland entered a contract to work on 2012 candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley's campaign and sought to be paid by a lawyer for her husband, Brian Foley, who owned a chain of nursing homes called Apple Rehab.

"Ask yourself, what was Mr. Rowland selling? Was he selling his business consulting expertise? Was he selling his devotion to an animal center? Or was he selling the thing that was most valuable - his political expertise?" Mattei told the jury.

Mattei called the whole arrangement "a sham." Over more than an hour, Mattei presented a slideshow with snippets of the evidence against Rowland. He reminded the jury of what the government contends was a trend by the former governor to make offers to candidates who were political newcomers, but who also were independently wealthy. He pointed to the contract Rowland pitched to Greenberg.

"Who is going to pay somebody $35,000 a month to raise money for an animal shelter? Please . . . " he said.

He showed the jury a slide comparing the 22 emails Rowland had sent to Wilson-Foley prior to his contract with her husband's company with 321 emails he sent the candidate in the six months after the contract.

"Look at that. That says it all," Mattei said. "What's the one thing that happened? The money tap got turned on. That's what happened."


Rowland will NEVER learn...
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Malloy's Fundraising Operation - "Offensive but not illegal"

by: ctblogger

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 10:48:07 AM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

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:

CTNewsJunkie:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ar...

Hartford Courant: http://touch.courant.com/#sect...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Tuesday roundup

by: ctblogger

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 13:30:15 PM EDT

The latest...
  • "Connecticut, a Jim Crow state?"
    Unless Connecticut changes direction in what has been packaged and sold as "education reform," its achievement gap, the largest in the nation, will be exacerbated.

    All of Connecticut's children are harmed by the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core Standards and by the amount of instructional time lost to preparing for and taking standardized tests to measure acquisition of that content.

    Op-ed submit bugConnecticut children of color,already hurt by poverty and racism, however, suffer the most. Current "education reform" will further marginalize them as Jim Crow laws of the past marginalized African Americans in southern states.


  • More empty campaign promises...
    While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Greenwich businessman Tom Foley both vowed Monday to spend heavily on transportation, neither gubernatorial contender outlined any plans to pay for these investments.

  • The Courant examines the state of third party campaigns

  • Tom Foley has no shame.
    The Connecticut Democratic Party called a digital ad criticizing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy put out by his gubernatorial opponent "out of bounds" and asked that it be taken down.

    The ad used an image of Malloy that accompanies stories on a prayer vigil the day 20 children and six educators were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Dec. 14, 2012.

    "Although Tom Foley has said he would sign a repeal of our smart gun law and says he has never met with Newtown families, his latest attack ad is downright out of bounds and he needs to apologize for it," Devon Puglia, spokesman for the party, said in a statement.


  • CTNJ breaks down Tom Foley's Wisconsin moment comment.
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Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

by: ctblogger

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 10:57:07 AM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

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.

There's more below the fold...

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 791 words in story)

"Fearsome Fivesome" of GOP Downballot Candidates Relying on Massive Foley Coattails

by: abg22

Sat Sep 13, 2014 at 13:41:29 PM EDT

If you can name all five GOP candidates for Connecticut's down-ballot constitutional offices, you are probably an employee of the Connecticut GOP. Otherwise you really need to get out more.  

On paper the "fearsome fivesome" are not terrible candidates. Only Peter Lumaj has a history of extreme right-wing statements and will have to overcome the odious stench of association with the tea party. Two are women (Lieutenant Governor candidate Heather Bond Somers and Comptroller candidate Sharon McLaughlin); they represent a greater geographical diversity than Connecticut Republicans usually manage (shockingly only one is from Fairfield County), and there is even a foreign-born candidate (Albanian immigrant Peter Lumaj, who previously ran in the GOP primary against Linda McMahon for US Senate in 2012, for Secretary of the State). After two terms of tormenting Nancy Dinardo as first selectman of Trumbull, the 34 year old Tim Herbst is a "rising star" in the CT-GOP (though look how well that worked out for John Rowland) and widely considered the GOP's best chance for a downballot pick-up.

The problem for this otherwise plausible-sounding crop of candidates is that three of them have never been elected to anything (neither has Foley, meaning that an astonishing four out of six GOP candidates for constitutional offices have no elective experience) and their statewide name recognition is nonexistent with less than two months to go until the election. And the GOP's only plan for getting these candidates elected is the wildly optimistic strategy of riding Tom Foley's coattails into office. That would not be a particularly good basket to put all one's eggs in, even if Foley were actually a good candidate.

In 2010, when Foley and Malloy were separated by less than 1%, none of the GOP down-ballot candidates came anywhere close to winning. Secretary of the State candidate Jerry Farrell was the most competitive, losing to Denise Merrill by 9.1 percentage points. Martha Dean, Jack Orchulli, and Jeff Wright all lost by 10 points or more. In other words, a similar crop of no-name GOP candidates ran about 10 points behind Foley. It would be reasonable to figure that in 2014 Foley would have to defeat Malloy by more than 10 points in order for the GOP to be competitive in the downballot races.

Foley appears to be 3-5 points ahead of Malloy in the current polling average -- but most of the undecideds are Democrat-leaning and voted for Obama in 2012, and it will be difficult for Foley to move them into his column as long as he fails to bring some polish to his amateurish campaign. Perhaps only Chris Healy (Connecticut's own "Baghdad Bob") and his friends at Newsmax think Foley will win by enough to sweep the GOP under-ticket into office.

Here is your handy guide to the GOP's downballot contenders:

Heather Bond Somers -- Lieutenant Governor. Former Groton Mayor Somers was Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's running mate until she left him at the altar. It didn't make Boughton loyalists happy but worked out all right for her when Boughton's pathetic campaign collapsed and she narrowly defeated endorsed candidate Penny Bacchiochi and David Walker in the GOP primary. She also got into an unfortunate spat with the Bacchiochi campaign about "white privilege" in the Republican Party, which led to the firing of a Bacchiochi campaign aide and a blistering editorial in the New Haven Register calling the CT-GOP clueless on discussions about race. She has little statewide name recognition but provides some geographical and gender balance to the GOP ticket.

Peter Lumaj -- Secretary of the State. Lumaj ran for US Senate in 2012 on a platform of opposing "socialism" and compared President Obama and congressional Democrats to Cold War-era communist dictators in his home country of Albania. He accused GOP rivals Linda McMahon and Chris Shays of being RINOs before dropping out of the race in June. Lumaj lives in Fairfield and has a law office in New York City, but is not licensed to practice law in either New York or Connecticut. According to the endorsement statement of a tea party group, "Peter escaped Communist Albania along with three of his brothers. His parents and seven other siblings were not so lucky and suffered greatly at the hands of the communist government.  Having actually seen and endured political persecution that actually cost lives gives Peter a unique perspective." He has 425 Likes on facebook and 246 followers on twitter.

Sharon McLaughlin -- Comptroller. She is currently the secretary of the Ellington (population 12,921) Republican Town Committee. By her own admission, McLaughlin jumped into the race only because no other Republicans seemed interested in taking on Kevin Lembo. Another neophyte candidate named Angel Cadena also entered the race just before the GOP convention. She defeated Cadena in the August primary. She has never held any elective office. According to her website, she is an accountant whose work experience includes "internal accounting roles and business operations." Her other qualifications (according to her website) include being a member of something called the "Ellington Winterfest Committee." She has been cross-endorsed by the Independent Party.

Tim Herbst -- Treasurer. Becoming first selectman of Trumbull in 2009 at age 29, Herbst has been the nemesis of Trumbull resident and state Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo for the last five years. A rising star in the Connecticut GOP, Herbst has qualified for public financing and many believe he is the GOP's best chance for a down-ballot pick-up.

Kie Westby -- Attorney General. A Marine Corps Reservist and attorney, Westby lives in Southbury and is a member of the Republican State Central Committee. He supports repeal of the state income tax and abandoning Common Core. He has endorsements from several tea party groups. According to the Tea Party Caucus of CT-GOP town committees, Westby "pledges to use the Constitution as 'an operations manual' and to support the Bill of Rights." He has 354 likes on Facebook.

None of these candidates are in a particularly enviable position: their fates are almost completely dependent on a man, Tom Foley, who couldn't care less about any of them (except Somers, whose fate is directly intertwined with his). But what do you expect from a party that recruits four of six candidates for constitutional offices who have no elective experience at all, and a party that hasn't won a single statewide race since 2006?

 

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