Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hedged Wednesday when asked whether he sought a campaign contribution from a state contractor on behalf of the Connecticut Democratic Party during a weekend fundraising trip to California.
“We’ll look at it,” Malloy told reporters. “To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t solicit that person.”
Malloy was referring to Lenny Mendonca, an executive at McKinsey & Co., the national consulting company whose clients include the University of Connecticut. Mondonca was not the host of a fundraiser, contrary to a media report, Malloy said.
But the governor, a first-term Democrat who is up for re-election in 2014, said he believes he met Mondonca, who also is the founder and co-owner of the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. outside San Francisco, while he was in the bay area.
“It’s entirely possible,” Malloy said. “I think I did have contact with such a person.”
State contractors are prohibited from contributing to candidates for statewide office in Connecticut. A spokesman for the State Elections Enforcement Commission said the ban also applies contributions to state party committees.
Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, a candidate for governor, challenged Malloy on Tuesday to disclose details of his fundraising trip and to say if he had solicited Mondonca.
Malloy was asked during an 11-minute press conference to give the number and location of his weekend fundraisers. He hesitated.
“I don’t have all of that in my mind,” Malloy replied. “Suffice it to stay I am trying to raise money for Democratic causes. We’ll try to get you some additional information.”
His spokesman, Andrew Doba, referred reporters to the Connecticut Democratic Party for further details.
McKinney found Malloy’s answer to be disingenuous.
“It’s not believable that he was incapable of an answer. He is a very intelligent man. I’m sure he was aware of how many events he attended,” McKinney said.
Malloy, who has not declared his candidacy or taken legal steps that would allow him to raise funds for a re-election campaign, said he will continue to raise money for Democrats, including the state party.
“By the way, I am going to be doing a lot of this stuff,” Malloy said. “I believe in the necessity of having a strong Democratic Party.”
Changes in campaign finance laws this year will increase the role of the party in the campaigns for governor and other state offices. The party now can make unlimited expenditures in support of a candidate, and it can accept contributions of up to $10,000.
If he participates again in the state’s voluntary public financing system, Malloy’s own campaign will be limited to maximum contributions of $100, as well as a spending limit that is likely to be set at well under $7 million.
Malloy was asked what standard of transparency will he meet in raising funds for the party.
He replied that he and the party would file reports as required by law. “I think that’s a pretty high standard,” he said.
“When we raise money, it’s our intention to live by all the rules,” Malloy said. “That’s what we’re doing. If we discover we haven’t at some future date, we’ll rectify that situation.”
Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, who has established an exploratory campaign for governor, said Malloy should pay the state for any expenses incurred by his security detail on the California trip.
Malloy, whose own travel was covered by the party, said he is following the same policy as previous administrations on security: the State Police decides appropriate security and provides troopers as a state expense.