The two remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates have each spent more than $1 million of their public campaign funds on a litany of activities — things like political consultants, polls, television commercials, and media buys.
However, more than $1 million of those public tax dollars, according to State Election Enforcement Commission reports, have been spent on television commercials created, produced, and directed outside of Connecticut.
As of Aug. 5, Tom Foley had spent $490,111 with Chatham Light Media LLC of Stowe, Vt. and Pinpoint Media of Alexandria, Va.
Meanwhile, also as of Aug. 5, John McKinney had spent $544,789 on television ads with Jamestown Associates of Princeton, N.J.
McKinney’s campaign had also spent $30,000 on direct mail with the same New Jersey firm.
Two veteran Connecticut video producers say it’s part of a disturbing trend away from hiring in-state companies and labor. The campaigns say the companies they hired were just better suited to serve their clients than those in Connecticut.
But Ed McKeon, co-owner of Motion, Inc. in Rocky Hill, doesn’t buy that argument.
McKeon says that all the campaign ads he’s seen thus far could have easily been done by his company. He said it’s rare that a campaign ad would need special effects or editing equipment beyond what most local companies use on a regular basis.
“The irony is that they all talk about creating jobs, and decisions like these are an insult to the people here who know how to do it,” McKeon said.
He said it’s an even bigger “slap in the face” because it’s being done with taxpayer money.
Bob Conover, a freelance producer and director, said it’s strange when he hears “that all these people want to say they’re job creators.”
Conover said that 20 years ago the Washington consultants would hire Connecticut labor to work as cameramen or sound people for a statewide campaign. But he said that trend seems to have disappeared, as many of these companies look to hold onto as much of the money as they can.
Conover and McKeon said it’s an even harder slap in the face when you consider that the same out-of-state firms could qualify for state tax breaks if they shoot and edit the commercials in Connecticut. He said he knows one Connecticut resident who worked on one of Linda McMahon’s campaign ads in 2012, but he said his friend told him she was one of only a few Connecticut locals involved in the production.
Asked about their decision to use a New Jersey company for their commercials, McKinney campaign spokeswoman Jodi Latina said the campaign interviewed several firms, including Connecticut companies.
“Every firm we interviewed was qualified and each offered a mix of services,” Latina said in a statement. “We also had feedback from former clients of these firms. Jamestown was the right fit for what we needed in this particular primary.”
The company is the same one former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele used in 2010 to go after Foley in a Republican primary.
“There’s no state law that requires SEEC funds be used for only Connecticut firms and so we don’t see the problem with selecting the firm that offers the best fit for the client’s need,” Latina added.
Foley’s campaign made a similar argument.
“Chatham Light Media and Pinpoint Media are the production and ad placement affiliates of our media consultant,” Chris Cooper, a spokesman for the Foley campaign, said. “We chose a Washington-based media consultant because they have the most experience and are best qualified to handle a governor’s race in Connecticut.”
Cooper said that while the television ads may have been produced by out-of-state firms, several in-state vendors were hired to produce printed materials and direct mail.
And it’s not only the two Republican gubernatorial candidates using out-of-state firms for television ads.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign used David Axelrod’s company, AKPD, of Chicago. It’s the same firm President Barack Obama used for his two campaigns.
John DelCecato, a partner with AKPD who helped write and produce Malloy’s latest ad, was responsible for writing, directing, and producing many of Obama’s nationally broadcast television ads.
“Just like any campaign, we have the best talent from Connecticut and across the country who are committed to helping to re-elect the governor and continue the steady progress made for Connecticut families under his leadership,” Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the Malloy campaign, said Thursday.
Like the Foley campaign, the Malloy campaign also hired a Connecticut firm for direct mail. Malloy hired Mission Control Inc. of Mansfield for his campaign mailings.