A new independent expenditure group, CT Truth PAC Inc., came to life over the weekend with a $500,000 contribution by David Kelsey, the GOP town chair of Old Lyme and a longtime donor to Republicans.
Organization papers filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission confine the PAC to independent spending on races for governor and the five other statewide constitutional offices.
While state law prohibits direct contributions of more than $3,500 to a gubernatorial campaign and $10,000 to a state party, there is no limit on contributions to independent groups known as super PACs.
The ambitions for CT Truth PAC are unclear: Neither Kelsey nor the PAC’s chair, Sergio Mangione of East Haven, responded Sunday to requests for comment. Notice of Kelsey’s initial contribution was filed Saturday.
Last year, Kelsey gave $109,500 to the Republican National Committee and $10,000 to the state party’s federal account. Over the past decade, he has given more than $160,000 to local and state GOP committees and campaigns.
Long a factor in presidential politics, super PACs came of age in Connecticut gubernatorial politics in 2018, with the campaigns of three Republican candidates supplemented by dedicated independent expenditures.
One donor, Reverge Anselmo, spent more than $2 million in 2018 on behalf of Bob Stefanowski, the Republican gubernatorial nominee then and the likely nominee in 2022.
It’s unknown whether the CT Truth PAC and Kelsey will fulfill the same role for Stefanowski this year as did the Protect Freedom PAC and its main benefactor, Anselmo, in 2018.
In 2018, Kelsey gave $10,000 to CT Rising, the super PAC that supported Mark Boughton over Stefanowski in the the five-way GOP primary. He gave Stefanowski $3,500 once he won the nomination.
Super PACs are barred from coordinating with the campaigns and candidates they support. Steve Obsitnik, one of the 2018 gubernatorial candidates, paid $90,000 to elections enforcement to settle a complaint of illegal coordination.
Gov. Ned Lamont, the Democrat who is seeking a second term, spent $15 million on his self-funded campaign in 2018. Stefanowski has committed $10 million of his own money to his 2022 campaign is on the air with an initial television buy of $1 million.
Kelsey is the financial backer of the CT Examiner, a news site launched in May 2019 to cover town and regional news, including politics. It employs a half-dozen reporters.
He is a co-founder and managing principal of Hamilton Point Investments, a national investor in multi-family housing and hotels.