Connecticut Democratic Party Refunds $40K In Donations
Last month, the Connecticut Democratic Party returned a $10,000 donation from a state contractor. That refund, and three others, were reported by the party in its latest filing with the state before midnight on Friday.
In addition to the $10,000 it refunded to Edward Snider, whose Pennsylvania-based Comcast Spectacor is the parent company of the state contractor that operates the XL Center and Rentschler Field, the party also refunded $10,000 each to Tonio Burgos of New York City, R. Bradford Evans of New York, and John Fish of Milton, Mass.
“The Connecticut Democratic Party relies on the information provided directly by donors on our contribution forms,” James Hallinan, a spokesman for the party, said in an emailed statement. “Additionally, we cross-reference donor information for non-federal contributions with information listed on SEEC’s Prohibited State Contractors and Prospective State Contractors lists. If we identify any irregularities, we issue a refund to the contributor. If we identify any irregularities involving contribution limits, we issue a refund to the contributor.”
It’s unclear what those irregularities could be in three of the four refunds, although one of the three — Suffolk Construction Company — is on the prohibited list.
Burgos is the head of a lobbying company based in New York City.
According to the biography on the Tonio Burgos and Associates website, Burgos has a long history with New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and was appointed in 1983 by Cuomo to two positions in New York government. He also served as commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Burgos had given a total of $12,500 to the Democratic Party, but only $10,000 was refunded according to the report.
Fish owns Suffolk Construction. It’s a general construction contractor that provides pre-construction, construction management, general contracting, and design-build services nationwide, with offices in Boston as well as Irvine, Calif., Miami, and both Naples and West Palm Beach, Fla.
One of its projects in Connecticut was 360 State Street, a 31-story, 500-unit residential tower in New Haven.
Evans, who listed his address as Park Avenue in New York, is a managing director of Morgan Stanley and a vice chairman of the firm’s investment banking department. It’s unlikely he would be a state contractor, so it’s unclear why the party refunded his check.
“The Connecticut Democratic Party acts in good faith and follows all laws, rules, and regulations, and will continue to do so,” Hallinan said Saturday.
In total, the state Democratic Party raised $94,060 from individuals in the fourth quarter of the year. In total it has raised more than $242,671 from individuals for its state account. That’s in addition to the money it has raised in its federal account, which topped $1.2 million at the end of 2013.
More than $65,000 of the money raised since its October report has been spent on political consulting services with Global Strategies Group, which is headed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s former senior adviser, Roy Occhiogrosso.
Hallinan has previously said the efforts of Malloy’s fundraising trip to California would be evident in the most recent report, but there’s only one donation listed in the report from a California resident.
Stephen Silberstein, who is known for giving generously to political candidates in California, donated the maximum amount allowed, $10,000.
Malloy’s trip to California cost the state of Connecticut taxpayers about $13,760, according to information obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican from Wilton who is exploring a run for governor.
The state party has declined to reimburse the state for the expense.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating two election complaints against Malloy, who has not said yet whether he will seek a second term.
One complaint alleges that Malloy is running a “de facto campaign operation” through the party and Global Strategies Group. The other, filed by the Republican Party, alleges that Malloy and state Democrats violated campaign laws when the governor met with a state contractor on a fundraising trip to California on behalf of the Democratic Party.
While in California, Malloy met Lenny Mendonca, a California Democrat who co-founded McKinsey & Company. Mendonca’s firm has received millions in contracts from the University of Connecticut as well as a $2.7 million contract with the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.
“The revelation that the governor met with a state contractor while on a fundraising trip for the Democratic Party raises a number of questions,” Sen. John McKinney, who is running for governor, has said. “If the governor was soliciting a state contractor, or his employees for political contributions, then he clearly violated the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, if not the laws themselves.”
Mendonca did not contribute money to the party, according to the latest filing.