Saturday, January 28, 2012

Malloy And His Critics

Kevin Rennie, a political columnist who writes for the Hartford Courant, very likely can expect a sling or an arrow to be coming his way sometime soon. Malloyalites do not react with equanimity to sharp criticism, and in a recent column Mr. Rennie notes that Mr. Malloy, short on cash he needs to plug a reappearing budget deficit, is “squeezing the Mohegans,” owners of one of Connecticut’s two Indian casinos, “for political contributions at the same time he is wielding the power of his office.”

Mr. Rennie notes that the Clean Election Fund, which gave Mr. Malloy more than $8 million to level the playing field between candidate for governor Malloy and his Republican rival, has tapped itself on the shoulder in its annual report for having made it possible for Connecticut citizens to reclaim “their government with the already dramatically reduced role of special interest influence in Connecticut elections."

But they haven’t, Rennie writes:

“No, it hasn't. On Feb. 3, the head of the Mohegans will hold a funding luncheon for Prosperity for Connecticut, Malloy's political action committee, at a casino hotel. The price per ticket is $750, the maximum the law allows. The pressure is on to sell a lot of tickets. The Mohegan PAC slipped a maximum contribution to Malloy's committee on Dec. 28, so it's allowed to give again in the new year.”

The Mohegans have little choice but to play the usual political game: “Competition is increasing. The recession and stagnant aftermath damaged their business. The tribe is trying to refinance more than a $1 billion in bonds. It faces February and April deadlines to pay investors. It needs a piece of online gaming.”

Mr. Rennie may be mistaken in part. While Mr. Malloy is raising money for Prosperity for Connecticut, it is not his PAC. Mr. Malloy’s PAC, DanPAC, was discontinued earlier last month.

The chairperson of Prosperity For Connecticut is James Wade, one of the Grand Poobahs of the Democratic Party and for twenty years its outside counsel. Mr. Poobah, associated with Robinson and Cole, drafted the procedural and substantive rules of the party and occasionally represented it before the United States Supreme Court. Many of the contributions to Prosperity For Connecticut come from lobbyists or dependents of lobbyists.

Mr. Malloy’s real problem, however, is what it always has been: funny budget numbers.

Connecticut once again is in the red, according to a below the fold story in the CTNow section of the Hartford Courant written by Christopher Keating .

And the lede, which probably should have run on the front page: “Gov. Dannel Malloy's estimate of pension savings over 20 years was wrong by $3.1 billion, the legislature's nonpartisan fiscal office said Friday.”

The non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis was NEVER able to verify the savings figures claimed by the governor and his Malloyalites when, weeks before a much publicized set-to between Mr. Malloy and SEBAC, Connecticut’s fourth branch of government, the state budget was presented to the Democratic dominated legislature for approval. The legislature approved the budget with its penciled in figures before negotiation between Mr. Malloy and SEBAC were complete, an astounding dereliction of constitution responsibility on the part of a General Assembly that did not want to leave its fingerprints on a budget close to the coming elections. The legislature simply took a hike when the governor was negotiating with unions for putative givebacks, pre-approving the budget before negotiations were complete and by default investing Mr. Malloy what amounted to plenipotentiary power to finalize the budget.

As an amusing sidelight, a group of budget conscious rebels associated with The Roger Sherman Institute last June took the state to court a few weeks after the Malloy-SEBAC document, full of fanciful figures, had been approved by the General Assembly, arguing that it was not in balance. They implored Superior Court Judge James Graham to order the legislature to produce a constitutionally required balanced budget.

Fat chance there. The judge decided that a balanced budget was more or less a term of legislative art. Now, months after the suit, we discover that the state budget is off by $3.1 billon, which ought to bring a blush to the cheeks of derelict Democratic legislators in the House and Senate.

Fat chance there. The Democrats in the General Assembly who surrendered their constitutional prerogatives to Malloyalists and SEBAC have no sense of shame.

One of them, Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan, is asking the people of the 5th District to send him to the U.S. House, so that he can represent the interests of all the people in the state that he, the governor, SEBAC, the Malloyalists and the constitutionally flaccid House he runs have so successfully hoodwinked.

 ADDENDA

I am advised by Christine Stewart of CTNewsJunkie that Mr. Rennie was wrong in writing that Prosperity for Connecticut was Mr. Malloy’s PAC: “He's raising money for it yes, but he got rid of his PAC which was DanPAC earlier this month.” It is important to leave this ADDENDA in place, along with the original posting, because it appeared in other venues, a newspaper among them. The text has been corrected.
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