Esty, Roberti hold fundraising leads in 5th District

The latest federal campaign finance filings for the eight candidates vying for the 5th District show Democrat Dan Roberti as the fundraising frontrunner, but he loses that distinction to rival Elizabeth Esty when it comes to how much money is immediately available.

Roberti raised the largest total amount, almost $557,000, over the first and second quarter, according to his filing with the Federal Elections Commission. Cheshire Democrat Elizabeth Esty comes in second with $424,000, but she has more money available than Roberti.

Elizabeth Esty

Democrat Elizabeth Esty

The reason is that donors can contribute $2,500 for each phase of a congressional campaign. In Connecticut, that can mean $7,500: one $2,500 donation for a nominating convention, another for a primary and another for the general election.

Donors can give a maximum $7,500 now, but the campaigns must be careful not to spend more than $2,500 of those donations until May, after the nominating convention is held. Another $2,500 can be used up to the primary in August. If a candidate doesn’t win the primary, the last $2,500 can’t be spent.

While Roberti reported the biggest numbers, he can’t use almost 42 percent of the $557,000 until after a nominating convention next spring, because many of his individual donations exceeded $2,500. FEC limits leave him with about $322,000 for the first phase of the campaign.

Esty garnered her figure in a larger number of smaller amounts. She can’t use about 14 percent of her total funds, leaving her $364,000 available through the convention.

Roberti offers no experience in elected office, but he has extensive connections in national Democratic circles through his father, Vincent Roberti, a former state representative who became a Washington lobbyist, fund-raiser and movie producer.

Roberti also received contributions from a few political action committees in the second quarter, including Citigroup Inc. PAC and Keystone America PAC based in Washington, D.C.

Esty’s total figure stems from about 700 contributions from individuals. She also received PAC money. Her largest PAC donation of $1,500 came from the Women’s Campaign Forum PAC in Washington, D.C.

Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley made her first fundraising push in the second quarter and reported raising $202,507. She can’t use about $53,189, or roughly 26 percent, of the individual donations until after the convention. She also loaned herself $200,000, bringing her overall total to $402,511.

Wilson-Foley, the owner of a health care company, received $5,000 in PAC money from RehabCare Group Inc. in St. Louis, Miss. State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, also gave Wilson-Foley $500 through his PAC, Witkos for Better Government.

Democratic candidate and House Speaker Chris Donovan raised a total of $238,862 during the second quarter, which also served as his first fundraising push after filing his candidacy in mid-May. About $207,695 of that total came from 750 individual donors, 90 percent residing in Connecticut. Almost all of his individual donors contributed in donations under $2,500, allowing Donovan to use 96 percent, or $207,695, immediately.

Donovan also received $30,897 in PAC money. A number of union-led PACs donated, including $5,000 from AFSCME People based in Washington, D.C.

Republican Justin Bernier raised $140,000 in the second quarter, for a total of more than $221,000 so far. Almost 97 percent of their total figure came from individuals in Connecticut. He can use about 76 percent, or $169,000, immediately.

Bernier, a Naval Reserve veteran, received $2,500 in PAC money from Iraq Veterans for Congress based in New York.

Farmington Town Council Chairman and Republican candidate Mike Clark raised $121,532 in the second quarter, also his first time fundraising. He can use 77 percent, or about $93,500, now.

Clark also works part-time for United Technologies Corporation, a multi-national corporation that develops and manufactures high-technology products such as aircraft engines, military crafts and elevators. The UTC PAC gave him $5,000.

Wealthy real estate developer Mark Greenberg started off slower than the other candidates, reporting $144,121 in the second quarter. About $109,000 of the total comes from individual donors, but he can’t use half of it, or about $53,375, until after the convention.

Greenberg said he plans to supplement his fundraising with personal contributions. So far, he loaned his campaign about $35,000. Greenberg relied on self-financing last year in an unsuccessful effort to win the 5th District Republican nomination. Eighty-six percent of the $1,774,510 he raised for 2010 came from his personal funds.

Democrat Mike Williams is last in the fundraising race with $101,410, about $90,000 of which comes from individual donors. About 25 percent of the $90,000 can’t be used until after the convention. Williams also loaned himself almost $11,000.