Public campaign funding: Malloy is in line for $2.18 million, while Fedele lags

Democrat Dan Malloy’s campaign for governor could receive as much as $2.18 million Thursday when he is expected to become the first statewide candidate approved for public financing under the Citizens’ Election Program.

But the only Republican gubernatorial candidate seeking public financing for his campaign, Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele, is not expected to raise the $250,00 in qualifying contributions for another 10 days, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Malloy, the endorsed Democrat, appears entitled to $1.25 million for his primary, plus a bonus of $937,500 to match the recently disclosed spending of his challenger for the nomination, Ned Lamont.

Beth A. Rotman, the director of the public financing program, said Tuesday that Malloy’s campaign would receive the money immediately by electronic transfer if the State Elections Enforcement Commission approves his application.

To pay Malloy the basic grant of $1.25 million, the commission must certify that he has raised $250,000 in qualifying contributions of no more than $100. He reported reaching that threshold a month ago.

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Dan Malloy at last month’s Democratic convention criticizes Ned Lamont for refusing public financing (Robert A. Frahm)

“The campaign came in with a healthy buffer” of more than $250,000 in small donations, in case some are disallowed, Rotman said. “They look to be on track.”

The payment of the bonus grant is contingent on the commission signing off on a late-Friday disclosure by Lamont that his spending has exceeded $2.25 million, triggering the extra funding.

“The audit unit worked over the long weekend,” Rotman said.

Malloy and Fedele are the only gubernatorial candidates participating in the voluntary Citizens’ Election Program, which provides basic grants of $1.25 million for a primary and $3 million for a general election. Those grants can be as much as doubled to match their opponents’ spending.

As Lamont keeps spending, Malloy will receive another $312,500, eventually giving him $1.25 million in bonus grants. (With two months until the Aug. 10 primary, Lamont is certain to keep spending.)

To qualify for public financing, gubernatorial candidates must raise $250,000 in contributions of no more than $100. No public grants are paid until the candidates qualify for the primary or general election ballots.

Malloy qualified for a primary by winning the endorsement of the Democratic convention 10 days ago, as did Republican Tom Foley at the GOP convention. Lamont and Fedele qualified as challengers by winning more than 15 percent of the delegate vote, as did a third Republican, Oz Griebel.

Griebel has opted out of the public-financing program.

Until Fedele raises sufficient funds to formally apply for public financing, Democrats and Republicans will be operating under different rules for financial disclosure.

Lamont and Foley each are independently wealthy Greenwich businessmen running for governor, but Lamont’s campaign faces greater disclosure requirements.

As a result of the supplemental finance report Lamont filed Friday, it is known that he has contributed $1.6 million of his own money to his campaign in May, bringing his total personal contribution to $1.85 million. His campaign reported paying $1 million to its media consultant through May 28. A spokeswoman said $840,000 of the $1 million went for television time.

Foley and Griebel have only had to disclose their spending through the end of March. Candidates typically have to file disclosure reports every three months.

Starting June 10, the two Democratic candidates will have to file updates every two weeks because of Malloy’s participation in the Citizens’ Election Program. If Fedele raises the qualifying funds to allow him to apply for public financing, the same rules will apply to all three Republican candidates, Rotman said.

Fedele originally said he was on schedule to raise the $250,000 by the nominating convention May 22, despite a report in The Mirror in April that only Malloy was on pace to raise the funds. On Tuesday, his campaign spokesman, Chris Cooper, said, “We expect to file within 10 days.”

Cooper did not say how much in qualifying contributions Fedele had raised as of this week.

Fedele only had raised $122,000 by March 31, according to his last disclosure report. He has until mid-July to qualify for public financing.

By naming Mark Boughton, the mayor of Danbury who also had been running for governor, as his running mate, Fedele had hoped to gain access to Boughton’s fund-raising base.

Fedele has until Friday to file papers committing himself to a primary.