Themis Klarides raised the most, but ended up third in cash on hand due to loans Leora Levy and Peter Lumaj made to their own campaigns. CTMIRROR.ORG

CT Truth PAC,  the independent-expenditure group supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski with television and web ads attacking Gov. Ned Lamont, reported Sunday it has spent about $300,000 of the $1 million provided by two wealthy businessmen.

Formed in February with an initial contribution of $500,000 from David Kelsey of Old Lyme, the super PAC collected another $500,000 last month from Thomas E. McInerney of Westport, according to the campaign finance report filed Sunday with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

McInerney is the co-founder and CEO of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity investment firm. He contributed $100,000 in 2018 to FixCT, the super PAC that supported Steve Obsitnik, a GOP gubernatorial candidate who later paid $90,000 to SEEC to settle allegations of illegal coordination.

State law prohibits direct contributions of more than $3,500 to a gubernatorial campaign and $10,000 to a state party, but there is no limit on contributions to independent groups known as super PACs — so long as they do not coordinate their activities with candidates they are supporting.

The only other contributor to CT Truth PAC before the close of the campaign finance reporting period on March 31 was Matthew Sharp, a co-founder with Kelsey at Hamilton Point Investments. Sharp contributed $25,000.

The super PAC’s advertising was shaped by Chris LaCivita, who was a consultant to Stefanowski’s 2018 campaign. 

Super PACs cannot coordinate advertising with the campaigns they are supporting, and shared vendors or consultants constitute a presumption of illegal coordination under state law. But LaCivita’s work for CT Truth PAC is well outside an 18-month cooling off period.

His firm, Advancing Strategies, was paid $57,575 by the PAC.

The initial advertising buy was $103,511 on television and $50,073 on the web. 

The campaigns of Stefanowski and Lamont also are on the air. Their first quarter finance reports were not filed as of 5 p.m. Sunday.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.