Monday, October 13, 2014

How Prominent Democrats Steer Paths Around Anti-Corruption Campaign Finance Regulations

Some people – the Kennedys are among them – consider rules and regulations merely as obstacles to be surmounted on the path to political glory. It is a well-worn path often trodden by the great and near great. In Connecticut, the path offers special immunities from criticism for incumbent Democrats.

Gore Vidal, who left us more than two years ago, memorably described the Kennedy clan descending on Washington D.C. after John Kennedy had been sworn into office as president. He said it was like watching the Mafia descend on a small, northern Italian town, and his was a friendly voice. First Lady Jackie Kennedy and Mr. Vidal shared a stepfather, the stockbroker Hugh Auchincloss.

The Kennedy’s, others have noted, have a rather magisterial way of brushing aside impediments. The incident at Dike Bridge in Chappaquiddick, during which then Senator Edward Kennedy, apparently boozed up, drove off a bridge at night and left a passenger in his car to die of asphyxia, while he tried desperately and successfully to salvage his political career, was but a speed bump for an ambitious Kennedy. When Edward Kennedy left the Congress after forty seven years of faithful service, he was referred to by many obituary writers as “the Lion of the Senate.” Edward’s brother John was no stranger to illicit sexual encounters and, at least in one case, maintained a three year relationship with Mafia boss Sam Giacana’s moll, Judith Exner, much to the dismay of the Secret Service, not to mention the spooks at the CIA.

When the charming, crowd pleasing Ted Kennedy Jr. officially announced his candidacy for Connecticut’s 12th District State Senate seat a few months ago, cheers rose to the Democratic heavens like incense.

We find that Mr. Kennedy has been skirting the spirit if not the letter of Connecticut’s campaign finance regulations, the purpose of which was to provide campaigners with tax funds in order to rescue them from the prehensile grasp of corruptible state contractors, while at the same time providing  a monetary leg-up to impoverished challengers.

It was only a matter of time before the ruling party in Connecticut opened a gap in this campaign corruption wall so large that any incumbent politician could waltz through the breech without bruising his political reputation or his sense of ethical propriety.

Politicians may now accept large money donations from companies with which Connecticut has been doing business -- and Governor Dannel Malloy’s crony capitalist administration has been doing lots of business with lots of mega-companies in the state – provided the donations are steered towards federal party organizations.

In Mr. Kennedy’s case, family and colleagues donated $40,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee (DCCC)which then, according to a story in the Branford Seven, recirculated a similar amount of funds back into Mr. Kennedy’s State Senate Campaign to defray costs for staff wages and the hiring of consultants.

The arrangement Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has established between Democratic funders and her husband, Stan Greenberg, is a somewhat cozier family affair. As reported four years ago by Human Events, Mrs. DeLauro, a wealthy millionaire, lavishes funds upon the (DCCC), which recirculates the money it receives from Mrs. DeLauro to her husband’s research and polling firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in the form of work contracts; Mr. Greenberg is an international pollster and political strategist.

“In the last four congressional election cycles,” Human Events reported nearly four years ago, “the campaign committee for Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, Friends of Rosa DeLauro, transferred $1.2 million to the  Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which in the same period paid $1.9 million to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for polling and other services, according to Federal Election Commission ( FEC) filings. Stanley B. Greenberg, founding partner of GQRR, is DeLauro’s husband of 33 years.”

Mr. Malloy, according to a piece in the Hartford Courant, has skin in the same game. Courant investigative reporter Jon Lender wrote recently, “Last week the state Democratic Party — which has collected more than $3 million in its ‘federal account,’ much of it from contractors — requested clearance from the Federal Election Commission to use that account to pay for a proposed mass mailing that says, ‘On November 4th, vote for Dan Malloy.’

“Republicans say that would nullify the state ban on contractors' contributions that Democrats had touted as a ‘clean election’ reform when enacting it almost a decade ago.”

The Republicans and other critics of such campaign finance regulation dodges are right. But there is a bright side to all this legal pillaging: Unlike Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, who early in his campaign warned about legal corruption, the Democratic pillagers do not own yachts.
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