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Connecticut Democratic Party Refunds $40K In Donations

by Christine Stuart | Jan 11, 2014 2:18pm
(7) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, Ethics, Transparency

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 declined to specify why the donations were returned to the specific individuals. State contractors may not contribute to the party’s state account.

“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 party refunded Snider, Evans, and Fish in December. Burgos was refunded in October.

“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.

Related: Heavy Hitters Ride to the Rescue For Dems Under New Fundraising Rules

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(7) Comments

posted by: dano860 | January 11, 2014  6:00pm

Great reporting Christine.
I believe the old adage of “,follow the money,” will play a big part of this election cycle.
Of course following the money that Dannel has thrown around will be a little harder than following the parties cash.
I hope that thy get a little common sense and repay the State for the fund raiser he attended in California but it does lend itself to creating some fun campaign adds.

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | January 12, 2014  2:25pm

I don’t see the controversy here.

Here is what you must attest to make a political contribution to the CT State Democratic Party.
1. I am a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien currently residing in the U.S.
2. This contribution is not made from the the treasury of an entity or person who is a federal contractor.
3. This contribution is not made from the funds of a corporation, labor organization or national bank.
4. This contribution is made on a personal credit card or debit card for which I have the legal obligation to pay, and is not made either on a corporate or business entity card or on the card of another person.
5. I am not a minor under the age of 16.
6. The funds I am donating are my own and are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution.
You must also provide the name of the company you work for and your position in that company.

posted by: Noteworthy | January 13, 2014  9:32am

This is funny.

“The Connecticut Democratic Party acts in good faith and follows all laws, rules, and regulations, and will continue to do so,” Hallinan said Saturday.

And when those rules get in the way, they change them in the middle of the night to make it easier to scam voters and take in the dough. Even then, they have trouble following the rules. The legislature meets again in 3 weeks - cha ching ching…time for another midnight raid on election laws, eh?

posted by: dano860 | January 13, 2014  2:36pm

It may be according to the law but it was one devised and implemented by the fox watching the proverbial chicken coop.

posted by: dano860 | January 13, 2014  2:41pm

This one spells it out a little clearer.

posted by: StanMuzyk | January 13, 2014  7:31pm

Don’t expect that Gov.  Malloy will ever repay the state for his costly escape fund-raiser in California—as he would admit he breached the election campaign laws. The lofty cost of his State Police security detail with big overtime costs—will hurt him before election—or perhaps he feels the voters forget—and doesn’t care. His opposition should remind the voters of this brazen disregard of of the costly impact on taxpayers.  With his control of the Democratic controlled General Assembly—no one will make him pay back taxpayers for his political junket and Malloy knows it.

posted by: StanMuzyk | January 13, 2014  8:29pm

@dano: Gov. Malloy won’t pay back the State of Connecticut his brazen taxpayer paid campaign trip to California—as his controlled Democratic Democratic Assembly will not
direct him to make restitution.  One party control is a fiscal disaster
for state taxpayers.