Christine Stuart file photo
Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. (Christine Stuart file photo)

While the Democratic Party in the state of Connecticut has been aggressively raising money from individuals, PACs, and state contractors, the Republican Party seems to be struggling, according to its most recent fundraising report.

The Connecticut Republican Party raised about $579,000 from Jan. 1 thru Oct. 30. That’s less than half of what the Connecticut Democratic Party raised during the same period.

The Democratic Party raised about $1.2 million this year through the end of October, according to its November filing with the Federal Election Commission. The most recent fundraising numbers for its state account won’t be available for either party until Jan. 10.

“We need to be more actively engaged to combat what Gov. [Dannel] Malloy is doing,” Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney said Monday. McKinney is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and acknowledges that parties will have a much bigger role in the 2014 campaign than they have in the past.

McKinney alleges that the Democrat-controlled General Assembly changed the campaign fundraising rules in order to benefit Malloy’s 2014 campaign, even though Malloy has not announced that he is running for re-election.

“If you look at all the state contractors and people who do business with the state who have been hit up by the governor for fundraising, it’s embarrassing,” McKinney said.

He said he’s hearing from people who do business with the state and they’re being told exactly how much the party wants them to give and where to direct the money. However, none of those allegedly being pressured to give money have come forward.

“We need one of those to come out publicly and say it, but we know it’s happening,” McKinney said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s the first governor to do it, but putting pressure on state contractors to deliver for the governor and the party is wrong and we need to talk about it.”

CTNJ file photo
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero in the background (CTNJ file photo)

As far as the Republican Party is concerned, “we need to do a better job of raising money as a party,” McKinney said.

At the end of October the Republican Party only had about $15,350 cash on hand in its federal account, which is largely responsible for funding its operations.

Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. has stopped taking a salary.

Zak Sanders, a spokesman for the Republican Party, said it’s not uncommon at this time of the year for party coffers to run low. He said Labriola, who is paid $52,000 a year to run the party, won’t be taking a salary until there’s more money in the bank and more Republicans in elected office.

Sanders said Labriola would rather spend the money on electing candidates. He dismissed the notion that Labriola decided not to take a salary because he felt bad he was unable to raise enough money for the party.

McKinney said Labriola did the right thing by giving up his salary during what seem to be lean times.

“We have an aggressive fundraising strategy going forward to 2014,” Sanders said.

He declined to offer any specifics regarding strategy, but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that the changes the General Assembly made this year to the campaign financing rules boosted the role of parties.

Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly with Malloy’s support insisted that the party had to play a more important role in the electoral process and decided to allow it to donate unlimited amounts of money to clean election candidates. Malloy was the first governor elected under the public finance system, but the system he ran under in 2010 would not have allowed candidates in 2014 to receive additional funding. Under the previous system a gubernatorial candidate could not receive more than $1.25 million for the primary and $6 million for the general election through the Citizens’ Election Program.

Now the party can spend an unlimited amount of money on any candidate participating in the Citizens’ Election Program to augment the campaign’s funding.

Up until the new law was passed, individuals were only able to give up to $5,000 to the state party, but now they can give up to $10,000. Also, state contractors are allowed to give $10,000 to the federal committee even though the same contribution is banned at the state level.

According to the past two months of federal reports, the only individual to cut the Republican Party a $10,000 check was Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment.