Malloy in D.C. for school security, campaign fundraising

Washington —  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flew to Washington on Tuesday to address a security conference, then spend a little time working on the financial security of the Connecticut Democratic Party, which recently hired a full-time fundraiser as it takes on a larger role in state campaigns.

Malloy and the congressional delegation were the draw for lobbyists and others at an event hosted by General Electric at its lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue. The entry fee for the fundraiser, which benefitted the state party’s federal campaign activities, cost  $250 for individuals and $2,500 for PACS.

It was held just down the street from the White House and around the corner from the hotel where Malloy was the keynote speaker at the Security Industry Association’s annual Washington summit. The association paid the airfare for Malloy’s quick one-day trip to Washington.

The association sought the governor as someone on the front lines of the nation’s worst shooting incident at a primary school, the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The Democratic governor told the security experts at the conference that a special panel will issue school security recommendations by Jan. 1, about a month before the next legislative session.

“We have begun in earnest our response,” Malloy said.

The governor said he  expected one recommendation to be stronger doors, since Adam Lanza, the shooter, had no trouble shooting his way into Sandy Hook with a military-style semiautomatic rifle.

Another recommendation is turning Connecticut’s schools into “California-like“ facilities with an exit to the outdoors in every classroom.

“I suspect that’s coming,” Malloy said.

The governor also spoke of the need to improve attitudes about mental health and said most people, even himself, has had rough times that affected their lives and work.

“I can tell you I was not working at my height post December 14 or post 9/11,” he said.

Then it was off to the fundraiser where he was joined by every member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation except for Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Because of federal ethics rules that limit how much food lobbyists can offer lawmakers, it was standard fare, hummus and hors d’oeuvres.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said she only drank water.

The reception came one day after the General Assembly passed legislation allowing the state parties to make unlimited expenditures on behalf of state legislative candidates, but the D.C. fundraiser goes to the party’s federal account.

“I realize the timing on this is not great. This was a long-planned thing,” said Elizabeth Larkin, a spokeswoman for the party.

The state party can spend $5,000 on a federal campaign, not enough to get much notice when a contested congressional race in Connecticut costs more than $3 million.

Under current law, there is a similar cap on expenditures for state legislative races: $3,500 for the House, $10,000 for the Senate. But those limits will disappear once Malloy signs a campaign-finance bill passed early Tuesday.

The party is gearing up for the new campaign finance landscape, hiring Rachel Sosin as a full-time fundraiser. She spent the last half of 2012 working for the Ohio Democratic Party, leading a four-person finance team that focused on small-dollar donors.

Malloy said he will continue to host fundraisers for the state Democratic Party.