Politicians were stumbling over themselves to give campaign donations from TicketNetwork CEO Donald J. Vaccaro to charity on Monday as stories about his arrest and charges against him were reported by the news media.
House Speaker Chris Donovan’s congressional campaign gave $1,000 to the Meriden Women and Families Center, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy gave his $1,000 to the WOW/NRZ Community Learning Center in Waterbury, and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney gave his $2,400 to a New London shelter and Vernon Community Program.
Vaccaro called the incident — which led to him being charged with a second-degree hate crime, second-degree threatening, breach of peace, first-degree criminal trespass, and interfering with police—“unfortunate.”
The incident, which happened at the Oscars party hosted by the Connecticut Aids Research Coalition and Real Art Ways, is detailed here by the Hartford Courant. The Courant reports that Vaccaro was thrown out by bouncer after inappropriately touching one of the women at the event. The bouncer told police that Vaccaro called him a “black mother-[expletive].”
“I am deeply concerned about what has been reported and I am taking the allegations very seriously,” Vaccaro said in a statement late Monday afternoon. Vaccaro has hired Jim Wade of Robinson & Cole, the longtime attorney for the Democratic Party, to represent him in court.
Vaccaro’s company, which is one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s ‘First Five’, will receive $4.5 million from the state if it creates 200 to 600 jobs over the next 10 years.
When the announcement was made, Malloy praised Vaccaro, calling him a serial entrepreneur and someone who Connecticut wanted to keep in the state. But his comments weren’t as flattering Monday.
“If these allegations prove true, they are reprehensible,“ Malloy said in a statement. “Mr. Vaccaro should be ashamed of himself.”
“My approaches to life and work are highly inclusive and the comments reported do not reflect my values,” Vaccaro said Monday.
The Malloy administration said it was not aware in July 2011 of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Vaccaro’s former marketing assistant. The lawsuit, which was withdrawn one day after the ‘First Five’ announcement, alleged that at a company-sponsored Halloween party, Vaccaro “pushed his body up against the plaintiff and grinded himself against the plaintiff and other female defendant employees.” At another social event, Vaccaro told the plaintiff and in the presence of her boyfriend said “you have amazing tits,” according to the original complaint. Plaintiff was fired after she complained about the unwanted advances. Defendants claimed it was because she didn’t meet her daily call quota.