A recently-formed Super PAC backing Democrat Dan Roberti in the Fifth District congressional race has released its first TV ad in the district less than three weeks before voters head to the polls to select a nominee.
The group, called New Directions for America will begin airing its ad Thursday, treasurer Edward C. Sweeney said in an interview. It will air across the Fifth District, which encompasses Meriden and Simsbury and spans westward to Danbury and Salisbury.
Sweeney declined to say Thursday how much the ad buy cost. Federal campaign finance records (PDF) show that the group had about $95,000 at the end of June, with no expenses. All of that money came from five donors, none of whom are based in Connecticut and some of whom have connections to Dan’s father, Vincent A. Roberti, a powerful Washington lobbyist.
According to the disclosure forms, New Directions received $10,000 from N.Y.-based ATCO Properties Management, $5,000 from Beverley Hills philanthropist David Bohnett, $20,000 from the managing director of New York investment firm BlackRock, Inc., $10,000 from the N.Y.-based Hemmerdinger Corp. and $50,000 from George J. Tsunis, the CEO of Chartwell Hotels.
ATCO and Hemmerdinger are both listed as clients of Vincent Roberti’s lobbying firm, Roberti Associates.
And federal records show that Bohnett, Sweeney and Tsunis have also made direct contributions to Roberti’s campaign. Bohnett has chipped in $1,000; Sweeney has given $5,000 and Tsunis has donated $7,500.
On its website, New Directions suggests that it is supporting candidates in multiple races, saying: “Our organization exists to help build strength in the Democratic Party, identify federal races that are the most hotly contested, and to aid those candidates who have the strongest chance of defeating their Republican competition.”
Sweeney said the Fifth District race is the first one New Directions is getting involved in. He said the group plans to support other candidates outside of the Fifth, but he declined to specify which ones. He said Roberti “came on [his] radar about a year and a half ago.”
Federal records (PDF) show that Dan Roberti formally organized his campaign in March 2011.
“We believe that [Dan] Roberti represents energetic leadership and a chance to shake things up in Washington,” Sweeney said.
The group filed paperwork (PDF) in April to establish itself as an independent-expenditure committee, commonly referred to as a Super PAC. Under a 2010 court ruling, such a designation allows New Directions to accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and organizations such as labor unions in support of candidates such as Roberti–as long as the group does not directly coordinate its strategy with Roberti’s campaign.
Roberti’s campaign quietly rolled out its own ad last week, taking a shot at frontrunner Chris Donovan, the state’s outgoing House Speaker over a federal investigation into some of his campaign’s former staffers.
Roberti faces Donovan and former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty in a Democratic primary on Aug. 14.
Roberti himself has said he is opposes Super PACs and he has said that, if elected, he’ll support legislation to limit their influence in elections.