State Bond Commission To End Year With Political Fundraising Controversy
(UPDATED 5:11 p.m.) The state Bond Commission is expected to approve $10.5 million in borrowing at its final 2013 meeting Friday, including a $1.8 million project which has Republicans alleging campaign finance violations on the part of the Democratic Party.
Among other projects, the commission is scheduled to approve $1.8 million in bonding for capital improvement planning to the Hartford XL Center, which is managed by Global Spectrum. The funding is needed by the end of the year in order to meet the project’s timeline. The project is scheduled to begin in March and conclude by next October to accommodate the 2014 hockey season.
However, in August, Edward Snider — CEO of the Pennsylvania company that operates Global Spectrum — made a maximum donation of $10,000 to the state Democratic Party.
In addition to managing the XL Center, the company manages Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The Capital Region Development Authority, a quasi-public agency Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created last year, awarded Global Spectrum the contracts to operate the two facilities in February. Malloy also sets the state Bond Commission’s agenda.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney called Snider’s donation to Democrats’ state PAC a clear violation of campaign finance laws because he is considered a state contractor. He said the donation should be investigated.
“Mr. Snider doesn’t live in Connecticut and has never given to the Connecticut Democratic Party before. But, all of the sudden, at the same time his company is bidding for a multi-million dollar state contract, he decides to write a check for the maximum contribution of $10,000 and, lo and behold, is awarded the contract to manage the XL Center and Rentschler Field,” McKinney said in a Tuesday statement.
House Minority Leader Larry Cafero echoed McKinney’s comments.
“This bond appropriation ought to be pulled until the questions surrounding the donation of $10,000 by Mr. Snider to the Democrats can be resolved,” Cafero said in a letter to OPM released by his office. “There is a contract to manage the XL Center by a subsidiary of Snider’s parent company and state contractors are barred from giving money to the state party accounts. This needs to be addressed immediately.”
The contract was awarded by the state before the Aug. 23 donation by Snider.
Asked about the contribution Wednesday, Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Jonathan Harris said “we follow all the rules and regulations under state and federal campaign finance laws.”
He said the party will continue raising money “within the law.” He declined to elaborate on whether he thought Mr. Snider was a state contractor.
Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut which spearheaded the landmark 2005 changes to campaign finance law, said if Mr. Snider is a state contractor then “it’s a problem.”
She said the law prohibits state contractors and lobbyists from contributing to state party accounts.
The changes to the law came about after former Gov. John G. Rowland resigned and later pleaded guilty to corruption charges for accepting gifts from state contractors.
Friday’s Bond Commission agenda also includes $4 million in funding for a home foreclosure prevention program and $1.3 million to help Windham acquire and renovate space for a senior center. It borrows $1.5 million to help the city of Hartford build a new police substation.
The commission will also approve $1 million to help the HomeServe USA Corporation move its headquarters from Stamford to Norwalk. The emergency home repair company is set to receive state aid as part of an agreement to create 130 jobs and retain 109 jobs.
“The state’s investment in support of HomeServe’s relocation will help foster further growth for the company and create good-paying jobs with good benefits for Connecticut residents. HomeServe is a company that continues to be a leader in this innovative segment of the service industry and we are pleased that they call Connecticut home.” Malloy said in a statement Wednesday.
Friday’s meeting is expected to close out 2013 and will leave Malloy less than $10 million below the self-imposed $1.8 billion borrowing limit he set for the year.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.