Republican Tom Foley is using his civilian service as President George W. Bush’s director of private-sector development in Iraq as a hook for a fundraising letter to veterans, one of the end-of-year flurry of solicitations from politicians, including one from a U.S. senator not facing re-election until 2016.
The goal is to pump the numbers by midnight on New Year’s Eve. In the political world, the ball dropping in Times Square signals much more than the dawn of a new year: It’s the end of a campaign finance quarter.
“Veterans are people of action,” Foley writes in a post script at the end of his appeal to vets. “Do not delay your decision. Take action today and help me with a contribution. Any amount will be a help.”
For Foley and other contenders for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, the end-of-year finance report that will become public next month is a way to demonstrate their early appeal to the GOP base. The January report will be the last one publicly filed before candidates try to win commitments from delegates in the spring.
“A dollar on Dec. 31 is perhaps more useful than a dollar on Jan. 1,” said Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, a candidate for governor.
Foley’s appeal to vets is drawing fire from Democrats. Foley was named to two posts during the Bush administration, the first being the director of private sector development in Iraq. He ended the Bush presidency in a more comfortable job: ambassador to Ireland.
“Apparently it’s not enough for Tom Foley to shake down veterans during the holidays — he felt the need to insult them, too,” said James Hallinan, a spokesman for Connecticut Democrats. “Comparing his time as one of George W. Bush’s civilian bureaucrats to the service of soldiers in Iraq, who put their lives on the line every day, is more offensive and erratic behavior from Tom Foley.”
Foley didn’t equate his service with that of soldiers, but he opened his pitch to veterans by saying he served “alongside” them: “I was proud to serve in Iraq as a civilian in 2003 and 2004 alongside those of you who deployed when the nation called.”
In an interview, Foley said the Democrats were trying to invent controversy.
“The Democrats, they ought to be talking about jobs and the economy and forget about trying to call into question people’s character,” Foley said. “That’s ridiculous. I served honorably in Iraq, nothing to criticize there.”
Foley was responsible for overseeing 194 Iraqi state-owned businesses, reporting to Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority that governed Iraq after Saddam Hussein was removed by U.S. troops.
In his appeal, he promises to appoint a “new veteran-friendly Commissioner of Veterans Affairs.” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s commissioner is the highly regarded Linda S. Schwartz, a holdover from the Rell administration. She recently was nominated by President Obama to be assistant secretary for policy and planning for the U.S. Veterans Administration.
Foley said every campaign — or, in his case, exploratory campaign — is using the approaching deadline to push people to write checks.
“Having a deadline is always helpful in getting people focused,” he said.
He is not alone in targeting certain demographic groups.
“We’ve been doing a lot of targeted fundraising,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican with an exploratory committee for governor. “A key core constituency for us are seniors. Since I served in the military, veterans as well.”
Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, another Republican with an exploratory committee, said she has targeted parents with a letter noting her expertise on education issues as the ranking Republican on the legislature’s Education Committee.
“It’s the reason I started in public service to begin with,” she said.
Not all the fundraising appeals are from politicians who hope to be on the ballot next year. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal sent an email Friday assuring constituents that their privacy is his priority.
“So last week, when news broke of a massive credit and debit card security breach affecting as many as 40 million Target customers, I urged the Federal Trade Commission to start an urgent investigation immediately.”
Blumenthal says he is helping to lead a national campign for stricter standards to preserve consumer privacy.
He closes his email with an invitation for voters to share suggestions for reform — and their credit card numbers. At the bottom is a contribution button.