Step one: Bring the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to a state Capitol press conference to talk about senior’s issues and get as much media coverage as possible. Step two: Bring said chairman to Hartford’s Wood N’ Tap Bar to raise as much money as possible, while deflecting Republican leafleters. So went the day for state Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Cheshire) who hosted Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois (in photo) amid news that Paul Vance, Murphy’s only Democratic rival for Congresswoman Nancy Johnson’s post, dropped out of the race and perennial contender Bill Curry will not seek the seat.
A crowd packed the Wood N’ Tap’s back rooms to hear Murphy and Emanuel speak. One guest handed ctnewsjunkie.com a leaflet that had been passed out to visitors at the door, paid for by Connecticut Republicans.“WARNING,” it reads. “This fundraiser violates the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance law…By attending today, you are helping Chris Murphy violate the spirit of Connecticut law.“The leaflet accuses Murphy of accepting more than $100,000 in special interest money while at the same time “hypocritically” attacking Republicans for raising funds from similar sources. But while Republicans accuse Murphy of raising $100,000 in special interest money, that figure pales compared to the more than $6 million in business PAC money Johnson has raised since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. She has over $2.1 million on hand for this election cycle, the majority of it from business PACs. “It would be a wonderful thing for Nancy Johnson to unilaterally disarm while she piles up hundreds of thousands in lobbyist and PAC checks,” Murphy said.As for the Republican leafleters, Murphy laughed them off, saying he takes their presence as a compliment. It shows they are scared, he said.“The Republicans across the state should be very scared,” he said.Republicans accuse Murphy of violating the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance law because he is raising money during the legislative session, an act prohibited for candidates running for state office but permitted for a federal position. That sets up a situation where Murphy could be raising money one day and then voting on important bills the next.The Cheshire senator dismissed the criticism.“I would never ask a pharmaceutical company for money, and if I did they would laugh in my face,” Murphy responded.Though state Republicans now defend the campaign finance law, very few Republican legislators voted for it last November.