Conn. Democrats’ Vexing Campaign Financing Problem; GOP Questions Timing

Now that a never-issued draft opinion from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has been unearthed, pressure is on Connecticut Democrats to come clean about the circumstances under which a federal campaign fund was used to further Gov. Dannel Malloy’s reelection. That draft opinion, if issued in a final form, would have been bad news for CT Dems. It said that the mailings in question appeared to be part of an attempt to “avoid” and “bypass” Connecticut’s clean election laws.

Meanwhile a top Republican is questioning whether the CT Dems knew about the draft decision and that’s why they withdrew a request for an opinion.

At issue is the financing of mailers for Malloy’s reelection campaign. Connecticut Republicans filed suit saying the mailers were to further Malloy’s reelection—not to get out the vote—but was paid for by the CT Dems federal campaign fund. It’s a big distinction because state contractors can and do donate heavily to the federal fund while they are barred by state law from contributing to Malloy’s reelection campaign or the party’s state fund.

The State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC) has already subpoenaed emails and correspondence between Malloy campaign officials and advisors on the subject of the mailers. The CT Dems are refusing to comply, saying the FEC has jurisdiction not the SEEC. There’s the rub.

Malloy campaign mailers under scrutiny. Photo:
Malloy campaign mailers under scrutiny.

CT Dems had put off the SEEC saying it would be handled at the federal level. But they withdrew a request for the FEC opinion leading state Senate Minority Leader to question the timing. “I’ve got to think they knew what the decision was going to be so they withdrew it.”

Fasano says nothing less than the governor’s pledge of transparency in his administration is at stake. “He [Malloy] should write a letter to the state party telling them to give [the SEEC] what they want.”

Fasano added, “At every turn this governor has not been forthcoming whether it be on taxes, on including Republicans, on not having a deficit, on using the Rainy Day Fund—on everything he has said, he hasn’t kept to one thing.”

A big point of contention is that Malloy promised during the 2014 campaign to not raise taxes. No matter how the budget situation is resolved, taxes are going up.

The entire campaign financing mess will likely go to court for resolution.