UPDATED: January 11, 2014
Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, filed a report Friday showing that his gubernatorial campaign raised $101,080 in the fourth quarter of 2013, but the exploratory campaign of the GOP’s 2010 nominee, Tom Foley, says it matched him.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Democrats reported paying $50,311 to Global Strategy Group, the communications strategy firm that advised the successful 2010 campaign of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the first-term Democrat who is using the party to lay the groundwork for his yet-to-be announced re-election bid.
The fundraising efforts that Malloy has led for the party have outpaced the resources of the growing field of GOP challengers. Collectively, they have raised less than $400,000, while the state GOP has raised more than $500,000, yet had little cash on hand. Through its state and federal accounts, the Democratic Party has raised more than $2.2 million in 2013.
In its state account, the Democratic Party reported Friday that it raised $107,000 for the quarter and had $112,000 cash on hand. In its most recent monthly federal filing, the party reported having $556,572 in cash as of Nov. 30, meaning it likely began the year with about $700,000 in available cash in its combined accounts.
McKinney now has raised $134,167 and spent $55,942 since launching his campaign July 23, meaning he’s raised $2.40 for every $1 spent. He is now more than halfway to $250,000, the qualifying threshold for Connecticut’s public financing program.
Foley, who is poised to soon join McKinney and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as declared candidates for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, raised $101,000 for the quarter and $131,000 in total since he started raising money in September through an exploratory committee, according to his campaign.
Boughton, who declared his candidacy this week, issued a press release Friday night saying his report for the quarter would show he raised nearly $40,000 through an exploratory committee that he created in August and dissolved Friday.
No reports from Foley or Boughton were posted on the State Elections Enforcement Commission website as of late morning Saturday. The reports could have been filed by the deadline of midnight Friday without being posted by the commission, which updates its site four times daily on weekdays.
Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton reported that her exploratory committee raised $37,060 for the quarter. Since beginning fundraising in August, she now has raised $66,659 and spent $25,305, meaning she’s raised $2.63 for every dollar spent.
McKinney was raising money under more restrictive rules than appy to exploratory campaigns. As a declared candidate seeking public financing, McKinney can accept maximum contributions of $100, while exploratory committees of Boucher, Boughton and Foley can accept up to $375.
McKinney held 11 fundraisers over the three-month period ending Dec. 31, most in homes. His biggest expense was $22,535 paid to Tusk Productions, a New Jersey campaign fundraising consultant whose previous clients include Linda McMahon, Rob Simmons and six other unsuccessful candidates for statewide or congressional campaigns in Connecticut.
Shelton Mayor Mark A. Lauretti, who didn’t become a candidate until two weeks before the end of the reporting period, filed a report showing he’s raised $1,200 from a dozen donors. Like McKinney and Boughton, he is seeking public financing. Foley says he intends to qualify for public financing, but is undecided about accepting it. Boucher also plans to seek public financing if she decides to purse the nomination.
In 2010, Foley largely self-funded his campaign.
Joseph Visconti, a former town councilman from West Hartford, reported raising $805 for the quarter, without disclosing the source of the donations. He had just $29.56 cash on hand.
The fourth-quarter reports will be fodder for the candidates as they try to convince potential delegates to the May nominating convention that they will have the resources to compete for the nomination and challenge Malloy. The reports will be the last public view into the campaigns’ finances until April 10..
Malloy has yet to create a candidate committee, but he is aggressively raising money for the Connecticut Democratic Party, which is building a campaign infrastructure, as evidenced by the payments to Global, whose principlals include Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s close adviser. In addition to the $50,311 paid to Global by through the party’s state account, it also paid Global $7,500 in September through its federal account.
The company offers communications and polling services, but the report did not specify if it has conducted polling for the governor, who has been politically wounded by a weak economy. Quinnipiac University last polled on the governor in June, when only 44 percent of voters said they favored his re-election.
In its last federal report, the state GOP reported running a deficit through November. Its state report for the fourth quarter was unavailable on the SEEC website, but party officials have said they would end the year without debt.
Democrats Refund $40,000
The Democrats also reported refunding four $10,000 contributions to Edward Snider of Gladwyne, Pa., Tonio Burgos of New York City, R. Bradford Evans of New York City and John Fish of Milton, Mass.
The party had previously acknowledged the refund to Snider, the chief executive of a company whose subsidiary manages the state-owned XL Center and Rentschler Field. State contractors are barred from donating to a state candidate or a political party’s state account.
The refund to Burgos, the principal of a government affairs firm, appeared to be triggered by his exceeding the $10,000 limit on donations.
It was unclear why the contributions were returned to Evans, a Morgan Stanley executive, and Fish, one of Greater Boston’s richest men and the chairman and chief executive of Suffolk Construction Co., the biggest construction company in New England. Its Connecticut projects include a $34 million cancer center at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London.
Fish donated the $10,000 in September, Evans in October. The checks were refunded Dec. 18, a week after Snider’s contribution became a public issue.
James Hallinan, a spokesman for the state party, declined to answer questions about specific refunds. Instead, he stated a general rationale for why donations are sometimes returned:
“The Connecticut Democratic Party relies on the information provided directly by donors on our contribution forms. Additionally, we cross-reference donor information for non-federal contributions with information listed on SEEC’s Prohibited State Contractors and Prospective State Contractors lists. If we identify any irregularities, we issue a refund to the contributor. If we identify any irregularities involving contribution limits, we issue a refund to the contributor. The Connecticut Democratic party acts in good faith and follows all laws, rules and regulations, and will continue to do so.”