Thursday, June 09, 2005

Malloy, Bysiewicz Would Return Campaign Cash if Bill Passes

DeStefano Against Changing Rules Mid-Campaign

Since most of you don't get the Journal-Inquirer, I thought I'd share a few pieces of an article I mentioned earlier with you. When the three declared gubenatorial candidates were asked if they supported public financing of gubenatorial campaigns, even if it meant giving up some or all of the money they have raised so far, here's what they had to say:

...Two of the Democratic Party's candidates for governor say the $1.8 million total they have on hand now shouldn't be used as a reason to block public financing--even if they never get to spend the money.
"I think it is better to invest in good government rather than to pay later," [Susan Bysiewicz] said.
Malloy, who has been mayor since 1995, has raised about $1.1 million and still has about $700,000 on hand...

Still, he said, it would be better to have public financing set to start in 2006 -- and to be part of a system that would make those dollars essentially useless -- than to have campaign finance rules remain unchanged.
DeStefano said that in his case, it simply is an issue of fairness.

"I'll follow whatever the law is. But I've been in this race for 15 months, he said, adding, "My view is, no, you don't change the rules in the middle of the game." (Phaneuf)

This is a terrible mistake on DeStefano's part. Let's be honest: public financing of gubenatorial campaigns isn't going to happen until at least 2010. Neither the House nor the Senate bill proposes starting it in 2006. To claim that they would give up the money costs Bysiewicz and Malloy nothing, and makes them look like champions of reform. DeStefano, on the other hand, looks like he isn't really committed to public financing despite earlier strong statements in favor of it.

This probably won't hurt him down the road, unless Bysiewicz and Malloy make a big deal out of it, which they certainly might. But DeStefano erred in giving them anything to throw at him at all, especially this early in the game.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice fairness for the greater good. It would have been nice if all the candidates had realized that.

Phaneuf, Keith M. "2 Gubenatorial Hopefuls Ready to Give Up War Chests." Journal Inquirer 8 June 2005. (Sorry, no link, it isn't posted on the web)


Indian2Nighthawk said...

DeStefano pushed HARD for publicly financed elections year after year in New Haven and the STATE LEGISLATURE prevented it. DeStefano believes in publicly financed campaigns for the state as well. Gengis, you've mischarectorized the situation and I think you know it.

You are right, DeStefano could have said what everyone wanted to hear and say that he would give back the money he has raised.

But DeStefano is too honest for that.

You are right, Bysiewicz and Malloy did know that there was no chance that the rules would not take affect until after the gubernatorial election.

So Bysiewics & Malloy did what all politicians do, they say what you want to hear and give mouthservice to what is in THEIR best interest politically.

DeStefano is obviously different. He gave it to us straight as I have always heard him do. You play by the rules of the game in order to make the changes we all need to see.

But the other two candidates played it safe gave mouth service to a hypothetical.

You said their "claim that they would give up the money costs Bysiewicz and Malloy nothing, and makes them look like champions of reform".

Well I think it cost them a bit of integrity.

But that's just me.

Nobullshit said...

I don't think Mayor DeStefano should be chastised for giving an honest answer to this question of giving back the money he has raised. The 'politically correct' thing to say would be to echo Bysiewicz's and Malloy's response that they would give back their fundraising money, knowing full well that they never will have to do that. It sounds eerily similar to what went on in the house this week, when lawmakers voted for a bill that they knew wouldn't pass just so they could be on the record as supporting fincance reform. This is exactly the type of bs that we complain about--but when a politician actually tells his honest opinion, we call it "a terrible mistake on DeStefano's part." If you take the time to look at Mayor DeStefano's track record, he has been pushing for finance reform time and me again, but was shot down. So now after working hard to raise the funds required to beat Jodi Rell, we want him to flush those long hours down the toilet. If either of the other candidates were dominating the fundraising field like DeStefano is, do we really believe they would give it all back? That's ridiculous.
So let's just punish candidates for being honest, so they all respond with the lame, cookiecutter answers to look good in the press, and disregard their actions over the past decade. That's exactly what Connecticut needs.

just visiting said...

DeStefano shills notwithstanding, Genghis is right on this point. DeStefano's remarks are an amateur's mistake, just like attacking Rell on the sub base is. Except DeStefano isn't an amateur. It is a flaw in his personal character. He just can't stop thinking and acting and talking about what is in his own best interest.

People who've known him for years uniformly describe him that way. The truth is that he said what he said _because_ he is the leader on cash. If he weren't, he would have said what Bysiewicz and Malloy said.

straighttalk said...

the difference between destefano and malloy and bysiewicz is that destefano tells the truth. i dunno how anyone can criticize him for being honest because he is crushing both bysiewicz and malloy in fundraising. that's like, making a runner 2 miles ahead of you to stop running because you can't keep up. if the runner doesn't stop, you turn around and start crying about how it's not fair that he's so far ahead.
malloy and bysiewicz supporters shouldn't be such babies just cuz they can't beat the mayor in fundraising.

Nobullshit said...

just visiting,
Do you know Mayor DeStefano personally? Cuz it's a pretty bold statement to say that 'People who've known him for years uniformly describe him that way.' I've heard plenty of people have unkind things about his Democratic opponents, but I wouldn't blurt them out on a blog without having anything to back it up. If he wanted to do what was in his best interest, he would have said he'd give the money back, and be the media darling who raised all that money and gave it all back. You and I know no candidate is going to have to give their funds back, so lying to the public would have been the smart political move. But I guess being honest is an 'amateur's mistake'.

Indian2Nighthawk said...

"Just Visiting" -

You said that DeStefano "just can't stop thinking and acting and talking about what is in his own best interest" but that is flat out wrong!

DeStefano just can't stop thinking and acting and talking about what is in his CITY'S best interest!

And when he is Governor, he'll do the same for CONNECTICUT.

But you are right, DeStefano does have the reputation of being a son-of-a-b****.

But as someone I know from North Haven once said,

"John is a son-of-a-b****. He never gives up an inch when fighting for something for New Haven...but that's why I want him fighting for Connecticut. He may be a son-of-a-b**** but he'll be OUR son-of-a-b****! And he'll get Connecticut EVERYTHING it deserves!"

just visiting said...

Well, "no bullshit" (or is it "straighttalk" - make up your mind, you aren't fooling anybody), what we know - based on their public statements - is that Malloy and Bysiewicz both would accept public financing right now.

Add to that the fact that none of the Democratic contenders has name recognition much above 20%, and I'd have to say that both of them are being true to their word, because neither of them is running thinking they are going to lose the primary, and this would limit the ability of a challenger in the General to spend money to increase name recognition and criticise the incumbent.

Public financing of elections wouldn't apply to the primary phase (which, by the by, is why including the Legislature as the Governor purports to do isn't really going to reform much, since they have gerrymandered their districts to the point where the battles - in the entreched urban seats especially - are really conducted in the primary phase, if at all. Not that I want to sidetrack the discussion with an examination of the substance of all this).

If anything, it would place both Bysiewicz and Malloy, as things now stand, at a _greater_ disadvantage to DeStefano, not take his advantage away. So what is your point?

Instead of shilling for DeStefano in the blogosphere, why not put your time and energy into challenging Rell to a fight on the issue in the General? Whether you like it or not, Malloy and Bysiewicz raised the bar in the debate. And your jaundiced view of their motives tells the rest of us all we need to know about your motives and who you represent here. And we'll be reading your posts with that in mind.

Genghis Conn said...

Interesting commentary... but frankly, DeStefano either slipped up or revealed a part of his character that may hurt him. Actions matter, even phantom ones, and in a race where reform and ethics may play a significant part (any race with Jodi Rell will, I guarantee it) DeStefano may find that he no longer has the high ground.

I'm glad that DeStefano is being honest. And I know his track record of pushing for public funding, which is why I found the statement so odd. It makes me question whether or not he's really committed to public campaign funding. It just seems... selfish. Say what you will about the statement, that's my reaction.

I'm not a partisan of anybody, so this is my honest reaction as an uncommitted voter.

CTguy said...

Ghengis conn is dead on.

Some of you posters (*cough* campaign workers *cough*) can spin this as hard as you can try, but the bottom line is that DeStefano slipped up here. How much will it hurt him? We'll see. But I'm SURE he regrets saying it.

Someone who says he supports campaign finance reform just can not say "Sure I want it, but not for me right now". Maybe it isn't that simple (I think it is), but that's how it sounds and it's how voters will percieve it.

FrankS said...

DeStefano's mistake was in not getting out in front on this issue, the money Malloy and Bysiewicz would return is from PAC's, lobbyists and contractors. It's not about public financing. Since these groups would give to whomever the eventual candidate is, DeStefano's arguement about playing by the rules rings hollow. We may even see coming out of the special session a change that prohibits these monies for the 2006 election and then DeStefano's money would have to be returned anyway. DeStefano should have led the way, it's about leadership

JHJOLLY said...

In 2002, DeStefano and a team of citizens (myself one of them, and no, I don’t work for him) devised a municipal public financing system for New Haven (at the time, it would have been the 14th such system in the country). The goal was to greatly restrict contributions to mayoral candidates (aka candidates like DeStefano) and to limit overall campaign spending (aka campaigns like DeStefano’s). This legislation was written and ready to go, and had public support (even the local republican chairman has endorsed it). However, the New Haven's lawyers were informed by Jeff Garfield (CT’s SEEC guy) that the city was not granted the power from the state to enact such a system, and that if the city moved forward with it, he would "shut it down".

Now here this turns into a long story of trying to get legislation passed in Hartford that would enable such a system’s creation... but that’s not really the point at hand. For purposes of this discussion, the point is that DeStefano was at the table attempting to create a public financing system that would directly disadvantage him as the incumbent, and that he was willing to push for such a system anyway.

So to the question of how committed he is to public financing? For me, it’s very clear – his support of campaign finance reform is on very solid ground, and he’s already proven this commitment several times over.

Nobullshit said...

It is not groundbreaking news that I am a DeStefano supporter. I am not trying to hide that fact at all. But 'just visiting', you can't pretend to be unbiased in the discussion either. You obviously disliked DeStefano before today, and would have shown your support for one of the other candidates regardless of his comments, which is fine. I don't want to see this primary turn into a bunch of personal attacks from one side against the other because ultimately, we're all on the same side here, just fighting to get into the lineup. The reason for my angry response was because I felt like (and still do feel like) Mayor DeStefano is being misrepresented here. I also disagree with Genghis Conn's comment that he would take back what he said. I actually hope he doesn't wish he could take it back because his honesty is one of his best qualities in my opinion.
And for the record, I am not straightalker. He/she does seem to be a DeStefano supporter though, so I'd like to buy him/her a beer for sticking up for him.

just visiting said...

JHJOLLY brings some substance to the table.

Only problem with this argument is that it would have been to DeStefano's advantage as an incumbent to limit contributions and spending, for two reasons.

First, as he has the overwhelming advantage of name recognition and the bully pulpit and loyalty in the ranks and so on, there is no disadvantage to him in being for this. If one wanted to speculate on motives, one might argue that in fact this was done with the thought that he might be the champion of reform in a Governor's race in, say, 2006. All the good government types should be with him, right? Would make a good plank in an "I'm not a Hartford insider, I am a champion of the people" campaign, wouldn't it? And in fact that is precisely the campaign he has put together, right down to the Deaniacs he's got on staff.

Second, and less speculatively, unless there was someone in the Democratic Party in New Haven with the stature to challenge him (and there isn't), he's guaranteed indefinite re-election in a city that is so solidly Democratic that it would take a Giordano-like scandal to open the door for any Republican.

So, I respectfully question whether or not your experience (which I don't doubt) necessarily leads to your conclusions.

just visiting said...

Heh. "nobullshit" must be typo. Your screenname ought to be "nothing but bullshit".

You should stop interpreting people's motives and minds, and do some homework.

For the record, IMHO DeStefano is quite a brilliant guy. I have in fact had the pleasure of hearing him speak, and have even met him. I can't say he's a bad person, just a flawed person. He seems to be a good Mayor, but as I mentioned earlier, people who do know him well are critical of him, and their experiences are remarkably consistent.

He's running for Governor. If you don't like hearing your guy criticized, you probably ought to find another passtime.

If I had my choice, like a lot of people in the State regardless of party, I'd like Blumenthal to run, if you want to call that my loyalty. I know he doesn't need anybody's money.

So spare us the armchair psychobabble and tarot card routine there bullshit, hm?

Anonymous said...

Just like your comment about how 'People who've known him for years uniformly' think he only cares for things that are in his own best interest, your comments are just plain ignorant. In the 2001 election, Mayor DeStefano was running in a primary against state senator Martin Looney. He's not exactly a guy plucked off the street. I don't expect you to know that (I couldn't tell you anyone Mayor Malloy has beaten during his tenure as Mayor, but don't write that there is nobody in the Democratic Party in New Haven with the stature to challenge him, when you don't know what you're talking about

just visiting said...

Anonymous -

You've merely illustrated my point. Looney lost to DeStefano by more than 3 to 2. That was your State Senator, and in 2001. This is 2005. Got another name you think is looking to go for the title? I don't.

So ignorant of the facts I ain't, unless you have a surprise answer for me there. There is a saying about glass houses that comes to mind about now.

Nobullshit said...

just visiting,
The argument made by JHJOLLY was that in the 2001 election, Mayor DeStefano made a decision that was clearly not in his best interest. Then you responded by saying that 'unless there was someone in the Democratic Party in New Haven with the stature to challenge him (and there isn't), he's guaranteed indefinite re-election'. Anonymous then pointed out your ignorance by showing that in that election, the one JHJOLLEY was referring to, there was a very strong democratic candidate opposing him, and you said he was proving your point, and that 'this is 2005'. So what is your point? You respond to a blog referring to the 2001 mayoral primary with an ignorant response and got called on it. Are you arguing that Looney is not someone of stature in the Democratic party?I'm hoping you are because then everyone reading this blog will know that you have no idea what you're talking about. If he isn't, then who meets your definition of a strong Democrat in the state Connecticut? Sorry Chris Dodd wasn't able to vie for the title of Mayor of New Haven, maybe would he would live up to your standards.

done visiting said...

If you can't follow the thread of the argument better than that, there is just no hope for you.

Aldon Hynes said...

Full Disclosures:

I am BlogMaster for DeStefano.

I was one of the people invited by Gov. Dean to sign his declaration opting out of public financing in the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primary.

I am a big supporter of campaign finance reform and in particular, public financing of elections.

A few observations:

I find it curious that one of the commentators suggests that the reason Mayor DeStefano supports municipal public financing is that it would benefit the incumbents. The standard arguement about why campaign finance reform rarely passes is that it favors challengers.

For those who want to read more about Mayor DeStefano's position, I would encourage you to read the article in public financing that Mayor DeStefano wrote with his challenger, Martin Looney, in the Hartford Courant on April 6th.

I would be interested to see what Malloy or Bysiewicz have done to support campaign finance reform.

As to the question about whether Mayor DeStefano responded well, I disagree with Genghis. I do believe that Mayor DeStefano was being honest, upfront and expressing a well thought out opinion. I think we need more of this.

I do believe it is a bad idea to change the rules in the middle of a campaign. The reason we want campaign finance reform is to increase fairness in campaigns. I think it is unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game.

Beyond that it would be a logistical nightmare. How do you decide what happens to the money? Should it go to the state? Would the campaigns have the ability to donate it to political committees as has been done in the past? Would the money go back to donors? How would you determine which donors would get money back and which don't? How would all of this get tracked in the campaign finance system?

No, I think Mayor DeStefano responded quite well.

FrankS said...


Given that by DeStefano's own admission that he "has been in this for 15 months", shouldn't rule changes be expected? Having started to consider running 30 months before an election.

It's not uncommon for a campaign to have to refund contributions and donate surpluses to non-profits.

Would DeStefano refuse lobbyist and PAC money, if other campaigns did the same?