Agency Probes Claim That Foley Violated Law By Conducting Gubernatorial Poll Without Forming Candidate Committee

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The State Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating a complaint alleging that potential 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley may have violated state election laws, by failing to create a candidate committee when he commissioned a March poll that gauged his chances against incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

The poll was paid for by a political action committee that poured $278,526 into Connecticut legislative campaigns last year and was released publicly by a Foley ally in April. It found that Malloy is “vulnerable” to a challenge next year, and that Foley — who narrowly lost the 2010 election to Malloy — is the strongest of the potential GOP contenders to unseat him.

Foley and his attorney, Charles Spies of Washington, D.C., both acknowledged in recent days that the election agency is investigating a complaint filed by a Hamden Republican, and that discussions are underway to resolve it.

But both denied that it was a violation to have the poll done without filing papers to form a candidate committee, which would require quarterly reports to the commission on fund-raising and spending.

“The issue is whether or not I am a candidate under the statute, and I don’t believe I am,  and [my attorneys] don’t believe I am,” Foley said. He said the poll was intended to help him decide whether to run; that, he said, doesn’t make him a candidate.

Spies said that election laws only require formation of such a committee if a person spends money “for the purpose of influencing” the outcome of an election, and the poll did not do that. He said the poll, done by The Tarrance Group of Alexandria, Virginia, gauged the “political landscape” and “a variety of issues,” as well as “attitudes towards multiple individuals.”

However, that wasn’t the view of Anthony Santino, the Hamden Republican who filed the complaint and who described himself as active in local politics but not affiliated with any particular potential Republican gubernatorial candidate for 2014.

“It would seem that this political poll represents something of value and, as such, should be considered a ‘benchmark’ poll for Mr. Foley’s 2014 campaign for governor, especially considering the fact that he measured himself, Governor Malloy, and a host of potential Republican candidates he may face in a 2014 Republican Primary,” Santino wrote April 18 to the elections enforcement agency.

“Since this political poll is clearly in furtherance of his candidacy and the fact that the poll asked questions that would assist Tom Foley in bringing about his nomination or election to the office of Governor … I believe this political poll is in violation of a number of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws,” he wrote.

He also said that Foley has referred to himself in public forums and news articles as either “running for governor” or as a “candidate.” Santino said he believes “that these statements, uncorrected, should have triggered the requirement that Mr. Foley create a candidate committee and file quarterly reports.”

Foley said the poll cost about $15,000, and that he’d “asked that it be done.” But Spies said it was paid for by Voters for Good Government Inc., a new super-PAC that raised controversy last year when it made $278,526 in “independent expenditures” in Connecticut legislative campaigns in efforts to defeat Democrats and support Republicans. Those efforts included cable TV commercials and direct mail.

The super-PAC, to which Greenwich billionaire Thomas Peterffy donated heavily last year, is incorporated in Delaware and maintains a post office box in Fairfield. The managing director is Liz Kurantowicz, former chief of staff and finance director for the Connecticut Republican Party. She also had worked in former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s office. Kurantowicz could not be reached Tuesday.

Other potential Republican gubernatorial candidates considered in the March poll were House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney. The poll gave McKinney better prospects than the first two but said they weren’t nearly as well-known statewide as Foley.

Santino said he’d felt comfortable with Cafero as a candidate, although not committed to him — but Cafero withdrew from gubernatorial campaign consideration a week ago. Santino said no other candidates or political operatives had suggested or asked that he file the complaint against Foley.

“Do you believe that?” Foley asked a reporter who told him of Santino’s comment. Foley said that he doesn’t believe it, and thinks that somebody favoring another candidate must have had something to do with it.

Foley said the fact that he didn’t pay personally for the poll he commissioned has no bearing on the question of whether he should have filed a candidate committee. No matter who paid for the poll, Foley said, the question is whether it advanced him as a candidate or sought to influence — adding that it didn’t do those things because he hasn’t made a final decision on whether to run for governor. But he’s widely expected to run.

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31 thoughts on “Agency Probes Claim That Foley Violated Law By Conducting Gubernatorial Poll Without Forming Candidate Committee

  1. James O'Hora

    Based on what I just read, it appears odd to me, that an RTC member from Hamden, CT would just capriously file this compliant against our 2014 “front-runner,” ‘without some link to another candidate. Someone should inquire with the compliant, if he would actually support Tom Foley in 2014.

    I don’t see how this action helps the Republican cause; and I also believe Tom Foley is pretty bright and successful, and would not run a foul of Connecticut campaign finance law. There must be, as the late Paul Harvey would say. “the rest of the story” somewhere.
    JTO-New Canaan RTC Chairman

    1. John Hartwell

      So your standard for investigating whether someone broke the law is “how this action helps the Republican cause”?

  2. Finster Baby

    Interesting…..Mr. “I’m running against Bad Ethics in Hartford” Foley has, himself, engaged in questionable campaign acts. Why else would he be under investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission? Do as I say, not as I do????

    Also interesting is that the poll was paid for by a SuperPac. Mr. Foley did not seem to mention that fact when he went on “Face the State” to talk about it. Maybe he didn’t because he knew this SuperPac poll would be a “coordinated” campaign expense to Mr. Foley’s campaign for Governor? But, oh, that’s right, he doesn’t have a campaign committee. My oh my, how we weave a tangled web.

    Mr. Foley…if you truly want a clean, ethical State government, why don’t you start with full transparency in your campaign. This is not a good beginning…..

      1. John Hartwell

        You pay for a poll, you release it publicly, you go on TV to tell people the poll is good news for you and bad news for every other potential candidate — and “there is no campaign”?

        Please read the CT statutes, this is exactly covered under the heading of an “exploratory campaign” for which you and your Treasurer also have to register with the state and declare all monies raised and spent. Mr. Foley may be “pretty bright and successful” as another reader declares, but there also seems to be a reasonable case here that he unwittingly broke the law.

        Let me finish by saying this is not the end of the world, and even though I’m a partisan Dem I don’t think this by itself should disqualify him for running if he chooses. But we do have rules, and Mr. foley is not exempt.

  3. rock salt

    If you believe that merely because a person is “bright and successful” that they can’t run afoul of campaign finance laws, then I’ve a bridge in Brooklyn for sale that you absolutely MUST SEE.

  4. pete

    Maybe they should be investigating the corruption in Bridgeport and how they rigged the election for DANNY BOY

  5. Anonymous

    Tom Foley specifically said to me at a event earlier this year, that he was the main investor behind the voters for good government, dig deeper courant there is more to this story than your seeing. Thomas Petterfy is solely the front man in all of this. Voters for Good Government is run by Foley…lets see if the courant wants to dig deeper…

    1. Connecticut is Circling the Drain

      Wow. Anonymous person said that Foley talked to him. We all therefore must believe that there is something sinister going on.

      Talk about a troll with an axe to grind.

      1. Anonymous

        No ax to grind at all just the truth, I am a republican & supported him up until this point. I’m not even saying he’s not qualified to be governor because I think he would be the best man for the job.

        Don’t take my word for it just do your due dillegance & follow the money. There is something sinister going on wether you choose to believe it or not. This man has a few cocktails & his mouth starts running, multiple people heard him boasting about this.

        1. John Hartwell

          Foley told the reporter on this story he didn’t pay for the poll “personally”. The problem with Super-PACs is that they don’t have to reveal their donors, so there’s no way to dig further and determine whether Foley did, in fact, pay for the poll, at least indirectly.

          We know he spends his own money freely to get elected. Maybe he should voluntarily disclose any and all political donations to groups operating in CT since he ran for Governor.

          1. Joesmo

            John Hartwell you are 100% incorrect. SuperPacs must report their donors. The only difference in a superpac is there is no donation limit…but there are reporting requirements

  6. rjeasthartford

    Certainly interesting, another example of big money, private equity guys and their funded PACS doing what they please.
    This is all about voter education, right? All that money should enjoy tax exempt status, statutes? what stinking statutes?

  7. mark

    Microscopic nonsense. Mr. Santino is probably bitter his paisan pulled out and he won’t get his little carrot if that person was elected. Mr. Santino should learn how to attack democrats with the same zeal as he attacks Mr. FOLEY. I would love to see Mr. Santinos track record in calling out Democrats? Does it even exist?

  8. PoorRichard

    Governor Malloy’s SEEC is investigation an opponent. How original. I suppose Mr. Foley will be audited by the IRS next.

    1. John Hartwell

      The SEEC is a non-partisan investigation unit. You do them and all of us a disservice by impugning their professionalism and dedication.

  9. Alpinglow

    “No matter who paid for the poll, Foley said, the question is whether it advanced him as a candidate or sought to influence — adding that it didn’t do those things because he hasn’t made a final decision on whether to run for governor.”

    Ignoring his tautological reasoning, if this accurately represents what Ambassador Foley said, then he appears to have opened the door to being found – if not outright admitted being – guilty of the charge. The notion that this poll somehow did not advance him as a candidate is clearly indefensible on its face. It did, and appears to have been intended to, establish him as the frontrunner for Republicans seeking to unseat the incumbent (if one accepts the poll’s findings).

    And if Mr. Foley’s involvement in the payor is credibly as alleged above, he is substantively guilty of fraud, whether or not it is prosecutable as such, and is certainly disqualified on the grounds of cynicism, hubris, and hypocrisy, if not otherwise.

    Whatever the case may be, it is already plain that this man should not be governor of Connecticut.

    1. John R. McCommas

      Its not exactly Alexis and Linda slapping each other around in in the mud in 10 thousand dollar dresses….

  10. Christopher C. Healy

    Judging by the time it takes for the state Election Commission to investigate, Gov. Foley will be thinking about running for another term. Whether it’s due to staff cuts or priorities, the Election Commission takes its time. Rulings are often, if ever, completed years after being filed. This is why the entire system is broken, because all one needs to do to damage any candidate or Party is to simply file a complaint and enjoy the predictable negative coverage it creates. Both sides do it. I’ve done it. The real joke is no one cares.

    1. George

      Wrong, Chris.

      There actually are a few Republicans out here who don’t approve of the spoiled-rich-b**tard tactics you use to discredit candidates. Your churlish behavior is a poison contributing to the death of the Party and the two-party system in this State. We have identified the enemy: it is you.

      Study the crowd; try to discern who among us is against you and those like you.

      Good luck.

  11. John R. McCommas

    Well if the complaint somehow is found to be valid, just think of the ramifications.

  12. Gompers

    This seems to be yet another example of Tom Foley violating the law and then declaring himself a victim when the whistle is blown. Foley lied to the U.S. Senate (as the Courant’s Kevin Rennie reported) when Foley stated that he had never been arrested. Foley has been arrested twice for road rage incidents. This and his overseeing of the disasterous Iraq reconstruction, which a special inspector general has found to be corruption infested, make Foley an unacceptable choice for any public office.

    1. John R. McCommas

      I shouldn’t bother but I will bite. Did he break the law? That is the issue at hand and this reasoning seems pretty darn flimsy to most here.

      Oh and real name please?

  13. happy state worker

    Foley’s Iraq performance should disqualify him for any elected office or private sector management position. He was either an inept fool who was too stupid to see all the faud and theft happening right in front of him or he was in on it or scarier yet, both.

  14. Cromwell Democrat

    Foley is a Republican, the rules everyone else has to follow do not apply.

Comments are closed.