Jon Lender, reporter on the politics and government beat for the Hartford Courant, revisits Ted Kennedy Jr.’s 2014 Campaign, which is still under scrutiny, and showcases election-reform troubles.
Dunaway asks, “Wasn’t there suppose to be campaign finance reform in the state?”
“Yes, over a decade ago – after the Rowland scandal,” says Lender. “They adopted a public financing program in which candidates would get public financing grants (taxpayers money) for certain amounts for their campaign. In the State Senate, you would get small qualifying grants from people. If you had enough, you’d then get a grant for about $95,000. In exchange for that public money, you would agree not to take contributions from contractors, ect…”
“But you took the time to look back at campaign records,” Dunaway says to Lender.
“What happened with the Kennedy campaign,” he explains, “ was that it was helped by the Democratic party under a loop hole that was put into law in 2013 by the Democratic legislature. The loophole allowed the state party to supplement a campaign even if one of these agreements was signed.”
According to Lender, although Kennedy’s campaign spent the $95,000 it was allowed, the Democratic party also spent organizational expenditures, via the loophole, in the amount of almost $300,000.
“In the meantime, Kennedy’s friends, family and business associates gave to the party in roughly the same amount of money,” says Lender. “It went around the public financing law, so now there’s an investigation by the state’s Election Enforcement Commission.”
The Federal Grand Jury investigation, that also looked into Governor Malloy’s spending in 2014, got shot down. But the state Election Enforcement Commission still has an inquiry.
“Who knows what’s going to happen,” says Lender. “It doesn’t have much momentum, and they really didn’t do very much when the Federal Grand Jury were investigating.”
Dunaway points out the reason this is all significant is that there has been talk of Ted Kennedy Jr. running for Governor in 2018.
Keeping with the theme of spending money, Lender touches on the investigation into Connecticut Technical High School System superintendent, Nivea Torres, and her use of tax-payers money.
“She was put on paid leave in March,” explains Lender, “while the department makes an internal audit….it has asked an outside agency to investigate the $4 ½ million that was paid to a PR firm in Rocky Hill.”
No allegations have been made, but there is an investigation as concerns have been raised. To read more about this story and others, go to Courant.com.