Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the first governor elected with public campaign funds, said he may have closed out his political action committee this month, but it’s not going to stop him from helping other PACs raise money.
Malloy will be the keynote speaker later this week at a fundraiser for Prosperity for Connecticut, a PAC founded by James Wade, a partner in a prestigious Hartford law firm and outside counsel to the Connecticut Democratic Party for the past 20 years.
The fundraiser will be held at Mohegan Sun Casino and the maximum donation allowed is $750.
The fundraiser was first report by Kevin Rennie, a Hartford Courant columnist, lawyer, and blogger. Rennie asserted the PAC was Malloy’s, but Malloy’s staff and campaign finance filing confirmed last week that the governor had no other connection to it other than the Feb. 3 speaking engagement.
“I didn’t stop being a politician simply because I’m governor,“ Malloy said in response a reporters’ question Monday about whether there’s any inconsistency in being a publicly financed candidate and fundraising for a PAC.
In fact, in winding down his own PAC, Malloy didn’t transfer any money to Prosperity for Connecticut, which has only been in existence for about six months. Prior to the termination Dan PAC, raised and spent nearly $53,000, with its last $2,645 going to DOMUS, a Stamford-based charity.
Wade did not return phone calls seeking comment on Prosperity for Connecticut’s goals and vision, but the campaign finance filing shows it intends to raise money to support candidates for statewide office and the General Assembly.
Its January report shows it raised most of its money at a house party in Darien this past November. In total the PAC has raised about $16,200 and it paid about $3,242 to the caterer of that event. To date it has not expended any money on any candidates.
“Let’s be very clear I do, and will support political candidates,” Malloy said Monday.
In addition to supporting PACs that support “progressive causes” Malloy is also the finance chair of the Democratic Governors Association, which was able to raise a record $20 million in 2011.
“It is quite clear that part of politics within any system, is raising money,” Malloy said.
But if Malloy is like other Democratic governor’s his fundraising efforts could get him in trouble at some point in the future.
Recently, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York was criticized for attending a $50,000 per person Democratic Governors Association fundraiser, at the same time as he pledged to get big money out of politics.
“I and other governors and elected officials are in rooms with people doing business with government all day long,” Cuomo told reporters last week. “That’s why we have ethics laws and codes of conduct.”
Then there’s Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. O’Malley took the helm of the Democratic Governors Association last year at the same time as donations from businesses with an interest in doing business in his state were making large contributions to the DGA.
In a Baltimore Sun article, O’Malley denied that there was any connection to the donations and his role as governor, but even the appearance of a conflict of interest can be damaging in the political arena.
Malloy’s tenure as finance chairman of the DGA is expected to last one year and won’t coincide with any potential re-election bid in 2014.
Last year, for the first time in recent memory that the Democratic Governors Association spent money on campaign advertising in the state.
The group was unable to coordinate with the Malloy campaign, but it spent about $1.7 million to run a negative ad about Malloy’s opponent, Republican Tom Foley.
The ad ran at saturation levels.
Malloy admitted Monday there’s bound to be critics of his fundraising efforts, but asked reporters to ask those critics how much money they raised for their respective PACs.
Legislative leadership on both sides of the aisle are still allowed to have PACs to support their candidates.
“I will raise money. I will lend my name to good efforts involved in progressive issues,” Malloy maintained Monday adding that “I’m also going to be involved later this year in raising money for the presidential candidacy of the candidate I support.”
He said he intends to comply with the fundraising laws both at the state and federal levels.