A billionaire’s Super PAC takes aim at General Assembly

Never has a $37,969 campaign expenditure so rattled Connecticut politicians. Democrats said Thursday it is the first significant entry of a “Super PAC” in a state legislative race.

Behind the relatively modest expenditure is a Greenwich billionaire, fueling fears by Democrats that it is only the first of many late independent expenditures in swing districts that could influence control of the state Senate.

The only contributor to the group so far is Thomas Peterffy of Greenwich, a political conservative whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at $4.6 billion. He has made news this election for running ads decrying the nation’s tilt toward socialism.

cassano williams

Steve Cassano, Donald Williams.

“I can tell you a political storm has just landed in our state,” said Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn.

Voters for Good Government, a tax-exempt “Super PAC” recently incorporated in Delaware, filed paperwork stating it has spent nearly $38,000 for television advertising to defeat state Sen. Steve Cassano of Manchester, a freshman Democrat.

Liz Kurantowicz, the former chief of staff for the Connecticut Republican Party, is the managing director of the group. She said Cassano is not the group’s only target, but she declined to share details.

“Our goal in general is to create jobs and help the economy,” she said.

Kurantowicz said the group hired Cashman + Katz to create advertising that will run on local cable television. She declined to provide a script of the commercial or commercials.

The independent expenditure is equal to nearly 40 percent of Cassano’s $95,550 budget. As a publicly financed candidate, Cassano is limited to $15,000 in privately raised funds and a public grant of $80,550.

“Our budget is done. These are coming out at the end,” Cassano said. “We have no way to respond to it.”

Cassano, a retired community college professor, seemed bewildered at the idea he is in the crosshairs of a billionaire.

“It’s going to be nasty,” he said. “This is not what the system is supposed to be. That’s what is so offensive.”

Peterffy is likely to be joined by other donors to the PAC, Kurantowicz said. She declined to say how much money he has contributed so far, and that information is not a public record.