Fedele ‘ready to rock’ with public financing

With nearly $2.2 million in public financing coming his way, Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael C. Fedele says he is “ready to rock and roll.”

♦ UPDATE: Foley sues ♦

The State Elections Enforcement Commission approved grants of $2.18 million Thursday for Fedele, the lieutenant governor.

Fedele was given a grant of $1.25 million for the primary, plus a supplemental award of $937,500, triggered by the spending of an opponent, Foley. His supplemental awards are likely to reach the maximum of $1.25 million, based on Foley’s spending, giving him $2.5 million.

If he wins the primary, Fedele will receive a minimum of $3 million and maximum of $6 million for the general election, depending on his opponent’s spending.

The money can be used jointly by Fedele and his running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark D. Boughton, who pooled their resources to qualify for public financing.

“Qualifying for the clean elections program means our campaign will now have the resources to compete with our wealthy self-funding opponents in the primary and against whoever emerges as the Democrat standard-bearer in August,” Fedele said.

Fedele is competing for the GOP nomination in the Aug. 10 primary with Foley and Oz Griebel, the president of a regional business group, the MetroHartford Alliance. He and Griebel have criticized Foley over two long-ago arrests involving incidents with cars, including a confrontation with his ex-wife.

But Fedele said he has no plans to use his newfound money to run attack ads. The issue has been adequately raised by the press, he said.

He has struggled in the polls. He appeared Thursday at a groundbreaking with Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who easily bantered with him in front of reporters, but she has withheld an expected endorsement.

Fedele is the second gubernatorial candidate to qualify for public financing: His fellow Stamford resident, Democrat Dan Malloy, already has received the maximum of $2.5 million, allowing him to begin a substantial television advertising campaign.

To qualify for a grant, a gubernatorial candidate must raise $250,000 in donations of no more than $100. Fedele and Boughton were allowed to pool their qualifying donations, prompting an objection from Foley’s campaign.

Charles R. Spies, the counsel for the Foley campaign, wrote to the commission Wednesday, saying that the panel had misread the law in allowing Fedele and Boughton and join their campaigns.

Only the endorsed candidates for governor and lieutenant governor can run a joint campaign, he wrote. Boughton won the endorsement of the GOP convention, while Foley won the endorsement for governor.

To formally object to an advisory opinion allowing Fedele and Boughton to join, the Foley campaign needed to seek a declaratory ruling, which would have triggered a public comment process. They never filed, said the commission’s staff.

The Foley campaign had no immediate comment.

Foley, Griebel and Ned Lamont, a Democrat, all have opted out of the voluntary public financing program, the Citizens’ Election Program. Participants typically refer to it as the Clean Elections Program.

“The people of Connecticut have stated repeatedly they want special interest influence out of politics,” Fedele said. “The Clean Elections Program provides a level playing field and ensures that campaigns in Connecticut can be waged with grassroots support, not just with a personal checkbook or a few friends in high places.”

Non-participating candidates can make unlimited personal donations and accept a maximum of $3,500 from other donors. Lobbyists, state contractors and their spouses are barred from making contributions for state office.