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CT Democratic Party donates $20k to losing Bridgeport BOE slate

by Jon Pelto from Wait, What?

According to a new campaign finance reported filed by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, the State Democratic Party siphoned off $20,000 in donations to the state party to cover the outstanding costs associated with Mayor Bill Finch and the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee’s recent loss in the September Bridgeport Board of Education primary.

On September 10th, the Democratic Party’s endorsed slate of candidates for the Bridgeport Board of Education, candidates loyal to Mayor Bill Finch, Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Moales Jr. and Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas, went down in a stunning defeat against a challenge slate made up of candidates opposed to Governor Malloy, Mayor Finch and Paul Vallas’ education reform initiatives.

The successful challenge slate had the support of local public education advocates, the Connecticut and Bridgeport Education Associations and the Working Families Party, as well as others.

Now the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee’s October campaign finance report reveals that with the local Bridgeport Town Committee facing a shortfall of at least $12,000, the State Democratic Party bailed Finch and the Bridgeport machine out with a $20,000 check the day before the primary was held.

By waiting until the day before the primary, Governor Dan Malloy, Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee could be sure that the media and voters didn’t know that the Democratic State Party was underwriting the pro-Vallas slate until after Primary Day. (State law requires that campaign finance reports be submitted seven days prior to the primary and then in October)

According to the campaign finance report, nearly all of the money spent was used to cover more than 140 checks to individual campaign workers who were apparently canvassing for the losing slate.

With no expenditures listed for direct mail, public opinion polling or an opposition research report that was conducted during the campaign, the new campaign finance report reiterates the likelihood that the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee has violated a series of campaign finance laws. A full investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Committee will be needed to determine just what Connecticut campaign finance laws the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee broke.

The direct financial involvement of the Democratic State Party in a local primary is very unusual. Traditionally, state Democrats have left those intra-party battles to the local Democrats.

The fact that the Democratic State Central Committee donated at least $20,000 and allowed the endorsed, pro-Finch, Moales and Vallas slate to use the Democratic State Central Committee’s non-profit mailing permit suggests that Governor Malloy and his pro-corporate education reform allies will do whatever it takes to try to defeat candidates who support Connecticut teachers and Connecticut’s public education system.

Check back for follow-up posts on any state investigations into the alleged campaign finance violations by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.