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House Republican Chief of Staff Resigns Amid Federal Investigation

by Christine Stuart and Hugh McQuaid | Feb 20, 2014 4:51pm
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014, Legal, State Capitol, Transparency

CTNJ file photo

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero

House Republican Chief of Staff George Gallo resigned after concluding that he is a person of interest in a federal investigation of the caucus’ campaign vendor mailings, which has seen subpoenas served at Republican offices in the Legislative Office Building.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero issued a written statement on the investigation and Gallo’s resignation Thursday afternoon a day after many GOP lawmakers were questioned by FBI agents.

“Yesterday the FBI came to the LOB to interview various members of our caucus relating to an inquiry into campaign vendor mailings,” Cafero said. “Our caucus is cooperating fully with the federal inquiry into House Republican activities.”

Cafero said Gallo resigned Thursday after offering his opinion that he is a person of interest in the feds’ investigation.

“As such, he indicated that he did not want to cause unwarranted distractions to the caucus that would take away from their legislative duties. For that reason, and for personal family considerations, he tendered his resignation and it was accepted, effective at midnight tonight,” Cafero said. “George has served as House Republican caucus honorably and with the highest level of professional standards since 2007. He will be missed.”

Gallo did not return calls for comment. Thomas Carson, spokesman for Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney Deidre Daly, declined comment Thursday on the investigation.

Cafero said that FBI agents asked that lawmakers “refrain from divulging the details to the investigation to the public and press” to the extent that they were aware of them. And lawmakers were hesitant to talk about it Thursday.

“They talked to a lot of people. So we’ll see,” Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, said.

Sources say federal investigators were asking about Direct Mail Systems of Clearwater, Florida, which handles the campaigns of several Republican lawmakers. Sources said they wanted to know if they were steered to the company, which is headed by Michael Milligan, a veteran Republican fundraiser.

Milligan did not return calls for comment.

Since 2008, Connecticut Republican candidates, Republican Town Committees, PACs, and the Republican House Campaign Committee have spent nearly $2 million with Direct Mail Systems, according to State Election Enforcement Commission filings.

Gallo, who headed the state Republican Party between 2005 and 2007, was in charge of running the House Republican caucus campaigns through the House Republican Campaign Committee apparatus. He owns a consulting company called Vinco Group, which was paid over the years by various Republican PACs.

The focus of the investigation is unclear, but former state Rep. Kevin Rennie was the first to report the presence of federal investigators in the state office building on his blog.

This isn’t the first time the House Republican caucus has found itself involved in a federal investigation. In June 2012, federal investigators informed Cafero that five straw donors contributed to Republican PACs.

Cafero promptly returned the checks. Then during the trial of Robert Braddock Jr., the finance director for former House Speaker Chris Donovan’s Congressional campaign, federal prosecutors showed undercover video of an informant attempting to put $5,000 in cash in his fridge in the Legislative Office Building after a meeting. Cafero was never charged by federal authorities.

Direct Mail Systems is one of a dozen national direct mail companies that does business in Connecticut.

Tom Foley, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said he used the company briefly in 2010.

“They didn’t perform very well so we stopped using them,” he said Thursday.

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(11) Comments

posted by: abg | February 20, 2014  5:36pm

This is yet another demonstration that Connecticut’s electricity market deregulation has been a massive failure. Sixteen years after deregulation passed the legislature it has never been more clear that a ‘free market’ for retail electricity is a raw deal for consumers.

Some ratepayers have been harassed so much by the aggressive and sometimes misleading direct marketing of the retail energy companies that they have simply given up on being diligent consumers and comparing supplier offers. Other ratepayers don’t like the hassle of having a “variable rate” suddenly spike without notification. These examples of market failure give a good indication why consumers in the 17 states that have deregulated their electricity markets since the mid-1990s pay an average of 30% more for power than their counterparts in regulated states, according to a 2006 Associated Press analysis.

In the short term, the current system of predatory aggregators existing alongside an inflated standard-issue offer should be replaced with community choice aggregation, in which nonprofit organizations, including municipalities, can become energy aggregators. Jurisdictions using this system have lowered their retail electricity rates substantially, by eliminating the profit margins and middleman expenses of Enron-like speculators. In Illinois, community choice aggregation has lowered rates by more than 25%, without compromising clean energy standards. In the long term, deregulation should be repealed.

posted by: Historian | February 20, 2014  6:20pm

abg post to wrong article

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 21, 2014  11:43am

I’m shocked the only comments about this are in the wrong story.

I’m beyond infuriated that people in the party I usually support are breaking laws and taking away focus from the bad guys and girls in the other party.

If this turns out to be true, I would combine this with John Boehner being weak as a leader, and I will change to be an Independent.

posted by: Greg | February 21, 2014  2:19pm

Simply a microcosm of the broader 2-party political system…the same characters regardless of D/R run the establishment and everyone is shocked—SHOCKED—when something like this comes to light.  Same with Donovan.  Same with Rowland; who seemingly can’t just separate himself from the machine and simply be a talking head on a radio show.  Oh no, radio talk show AND play a role in CT Republican politics…then keep getting investigated over and over again. 

Face it folks, the CT Republican party is just as, if not more self serving, myopic, and arrogant as the democrats we love to despise.  We little people don’t matter at all to either party until election day.

posted by: christopherschaefer | February 21, 2014  3:08pm

There are many political campaign finance activities that are perfectly legal—but nevertheless grossly unethical. For example, let’s examine Rosa DeLauro’s primary source of personal income: For years DeLauro has donated unspent campaign money—an average of c. one-half $Million per year—to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee [DCCC], which then hires her husband, Stanley Greenberg, as a “polling consultant”. In a remarkable coincidence, the amount that her hubby Greenberg is paid is nearly the same as the amount of campaign donations that DeLauro hands over to the DCCC. So basically DeLauro “indirectly” is paying herself—with campaign donations! By using this “perfectly legal” technique, Rosa DeLauro has become one of the 50 wealthiest members of Congress—with a net worth now exceeding an obscene $26 Million—of “legally diverted” political campaign donations! Of course, in a Blue State like Connecticut our totally unbiased local news media somehow manages to overlook such stories. Fortunately, there are at least some national news outlets that have not dropped the nearly lost craft of investigative reporting:  http://www.humanevents.com/2011/10/04/delauro-campaign-finances-raise-questions/

posted by: StanMuzyk | February 23, 2014  1:54pm

@Joebigjoe: Your stance is “never Independent.”

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 23, 2014  9:13pm

Stan my independent thinking and analysis brought me to the Right place.

Actually a few days ago I did this online quiz that tells you where you land politically and I was surprised to see it say “Centrist Libertarian”

posted by: William Jenkins | February 24, 2014  2:24am

“online quiz that tells you where you land politically and I was surprised to see it say ‘Centrist Libertarian’”

Joe, it was designed by the Libertarians to lead just about everyone who takes that fake quiz into believing they are some sort of Libertarian.

Sounds like you went for it hook, line and sinker.

posted by: StanMuzyk | February 24, 2014  10:02am

@christopherschaeffer: Thanks for exposing the political ploy practiced by a master Democtatic politician—Rosa Delauro, a millionare who makes the Democratic Party richer—while her party-elected congressmen—continue to practice deep deficit spending.

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 24, 2014  10:34am

I was fooled that easily???

Does that make me a liberal now?

I stand in shame right now.

posted by: christopherschaefer | February 24, 2014  4:14pm

@ StanMuzyk: Please don’t get me wrong. Paying herself with laundered campaign donations isn’t Rosa DeLauro’s only source of income. She also uses her “leadership PAC” as a cocktail party slush fund http://ctmirror.org/in-career-boosting-move-ct-lawmakers-use-pacs-to-help-fellow-dems/ Additionally she rented an illegal apartment in her DC townhouse-mansion without paying the correctly assessed property-tax, while helping Rahm Emmanuel conceal the free-rent’s value from the IRS as part of his income:  http://www.menwithfoilhats.com/2010/06/white-house-chief-rahm-emanuels-free-rent-tied-to-bp-adviser/ http://gawker.com/5145553/rahm-emanuels-illegal-dc-basement-rental?skyline=true&s=x
I mean, we wouldn’t want some pathetic amateur as our representative in Congress. And with Rosa DeLauro we truly have a genuine, professional life-time politician. She has learned the necessary skills needed to do what a careerist politician is SUPPOSED to do: make themselves fabulously wealthy while pretending to be a “public servant”.  Yes, indeed Stan: with Rosa DeLauro we certain have the real deal.