New Haven Mayor John DeStefano has succeeded in part in his campaign against Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell by winning this past Monday’s debate, costing the incumbent at least six points in the latest poll. On the other hand, DeStefano did not gain in the poll, but he made some voters hesitate to support Rell, which certainly energizes his campaign. In an effort to continue the momentum, DeStefano scrutinized Rell’s filings further Friday and found that she has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign donations from companies that received $170 million in tax breaks, then laid off part of their workforces.
“The governor’s own campaign ads claim Connecticut is ‘on the path to becoming a national leader in job creation,” DeStefano said in a press release. “Yet, a look at recent history shows that not only are we not creating jobs, this administration seems to be giving away taxpayer dollars to companies that are eliminating jobs.” DeStefano’s campaign compiled the $170 million estimate from news coverage, Rell’s own press releases, and her campaign filings. DeStefano’s campaign said over the past several years Electric Boat, Aetna, Cigna, Pfizer, United Technologies Corp., and Bayer all received millions from the state in tax breaks, then announced layoffs of thousands of Connecticut-based employees.DeStefano’s campaign used healthcare giant Aetna as one example. According to the campaign, the state has been negotiating an aid deal with Aetna that will provide a $9.5 million dollar loan and $6 million in relief from state sales taxes. In addition, Hartford gave Aetna subsidies of $1.2 million by reducing tax liens on property acquired by the company. Aetna also only paid Middletown $6.15 million in property taxes for an assessment of $194.5 million. After all that state and city aid, Aetna announced that it was laying off 280 Connecticut workers. DeStefano claims more than 30 high level Aetna executives donated $26,275 to Rell’s campaign. The contributions are not against Rell’s self-imposed fundraising guidelines. Last October, Rell said she wouldn’t accept money from lobbyists or state contractors. But recently, critics said this is merely a game of semantics. According to Rell’s campaign spokesman, the term “state contractor” applies only to the person who actually signs the contract for the company doing business with the state. The wives, husbands, children, relatives, and friends of CEO’s and top executives or attorneys who sign the contracts can still contribute. Where does Rell stand on state contract reform?Rell reaffirmed her position on the state contracting bill that she vetoed three times in November 2005. In a press release, Rell said standards for private contractors would “hurt people in need of state services, non-profits, small businesses, and minority-owned businesses.” In the same press release she quoted Manish Gupta, who said “This bill is more than an annoyance, it is a serious threat to keeping spending in line jobs and protecting all of us … I hope that the Governor will veto this attempt … to usurp control of many vital state functions.” Gupta was described in the press release as a small business owner. His small business, GM2 Associates, is an engineering consulting firm in Glastonbury. Over the years Gupta’s business has benefited from state contracts. From January 1995 to March 2006 Gupta received more than $9 million in contracts from the state. GM2 Associates was hired again this past June by the state to demolish Old Woodard Hall at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown. That contract is more than $643,000.