Deep in the end-of-year finance reports filed by the Democratic and Republican governors associations last week are evidence of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s strength and vulnerability in the early weeks of his undeclared 2014 re-election campaign.
Connecticut donors, including two recipients of Malloy’s “First Five” economic-development assistance program, gave a total of $1.4 million to the Democratic Governors Association in 2013, more than double what its Republican counterpart raised here.
But, nationally, the Republican Governors Association outraised the Democrats by a 2-1 margin: $50.6 million to $25.8 million. And the RGA started the year with a 4-1 advantage in available cash to influence state races: $26 million to $6 million.
The reports are a reminder that Malloy, while unmatched as a campaign-finance rainmaker for his party in Connecticut (where fundraising by the state GOP has been anemic) is vulnerable to outside spending by the RGA, which made the most independent expenditures on state races in 2012.
In Malloy’s 2010 race against a better-funded Republican, the governor’s public financing grant of $6 million for the general election was supplemented by $1.78 million in spending by the DGA. The Republican governors’ group spent $1.6 million to assist Tom Foley, who spent $11 million, mostly his own money.
The RGA raised more than $600,000 from Connecticut donors in 2013, including $40,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a traditional GOP donor opposed to the gun-control legislation Malloy sought after the Sandy Hook School massacre.
The biggest state donor to both associations was Aetna. The Hartford-based insurer gave $300,000 to the DGA and RGA in December, when Malloy hosted a DGA conference in Hartford.
The Travelers, another major insurer, gave $175,000 to the Republicans and $225,000 to the Democrats.
Alexion Pharmaceutical, whose relocation from Cheshire to downtown New Haven is to be underwritten by $51 million in loans and grants from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, contributed $25,000 to the DGA on the last day of 2013.
CIGNA, whose expansion in Connecticut is being subsidized by up to $71 million pledged by the state in 2011, gave $100,000. The insurer is a longtime major donor to both the Democratic and Republican governors associations, though it gave nothing to the RGA last year.
A spokesman for Alexion, the recipient of a “First Five” award in 2012, declined to comment Monday on how it came to be a first-time donor.
Malloy’s fundraising for the DGA is hard to measure. Not all contributions from Connecticut donors can be attributed to him, and not all his fundraising has taken place in Connecticut.
The DGA based a consultant, Angel Combs, who formerly was the campaign finance chief for Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina, in Hartford in October, paying him $47,379 in the last three months of 2013. David Papandrea, a friend of Malloy’s, also has been paid $5,000 a month as a fundraising consultant to the DGA.
In December, Malloy hosted the DGA’s annual Winter Policy Conference in Hartford, an opportunity for lobbyists and major donors to mingle with government officials. The policy conferences are members-only events, and the DGA offers corporate and union memberships costing between $10,000 and $250,000.
Malloy declines to comment in detail about his fundraising for Democratic governors or to address whether contributions from companies who benefit from his administration’s actions create an appearance of a conflict.
He characterizes his outside fundraising as necessary since Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the door to unlimited independent expenditures.
Foley, the 2010 Republican nominee who is seeking a rematch with Malloy, criticized the governor’s stance after reading accounts in The Mirror and The Hartford Courant over the weekend of the Democratic Party’s latest finance reports. They showed at least three $10,000 donors doing business with the state.
“The governor stated explicitly last week that their threshold for what’s acceptable is merely what’s legal. Governor Malloy is inappropriately allowing state contractors and others who have a stake in government business to buy influence with him,” Foley said.
Malloy repeated Monday that his standard is the same that applies to all candidates: compliance with the law.
Alexion was far from the biggest Connecticut donor, even among the state’s pharmaceutical companies. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals of Ridgefield gave $51,400 and Purdue Pharma of Stamford gave $56,050.
Northeast Utilities, whose executives were a leading source of funds to the Connecticut Democratic Party last year, gave $55,000. NStar, a sister company based in Boston, gave $40,000.
Cross Sound Ferry, one of whose executives already gave $20,000 to the state party, contributed $25,000 to the DGA, as did United Technologies Corporation, People’s United Bank and Webster Bank. Cross Sound has been seeking state backing for improvements to the ferry terminal in Bridgeport.
After Aetna, the biggest Connecticut donor to the DGA was Paul Tudor Jones of Greenwich, a billionaire hedge fund manager who supported Barack Obama in 2008, then gave $200,000 in 2012 to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supported Mitt Romney. Jones wrote the DGA a check for $250,000.
In addition to what was raised from Connecticut-based companies, the DGA also received $225,000 from Philadelphia-based Comcast, whose subsidiary has the contract to manage the state-owned XL Center in Hartford and Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The company gave $126,350 to the RGA.