Elections Panel Dismisses GOP Complaint On Malloy\’s California Fundraising Trip

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The State Elections Enforcement Commission has dismissed a complaint by the state Republican Party alleging that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state Democratic Party illegally solicited money from a state contractor during the governor\’s fundraising trip to the San Francisco area last Oct. 18 to 20.

In a written decision released Wednesday, the commission said it found, “after thorough investigation, that the facts do not support the allegations contained in the complaint,” which was filed in late October by the state GOP’s communications director, Zak Sanders.

Malloy and Jonathan Harris, the state Democratic Party’s executive director, spent the October weekend mixing with active California Democrats and campaign donors. Malloy spoke to the Democrats at two events.  One, at which Malloy was billed as \”special guest,\” was a fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association, an independent political committee that assists Democrats across the country. The other was described as a non-fundraising event focusing on public policy issues.

Among those Malloy spoke to on the weekend were two executives with McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm that has had two contracts with the state of Connecticut worth several million dollars since 2010. One of the McKinsey executives was Lenny Mendonca, a prominent Democratic activist and donor in the Bay area.

The Republicans\’ complaint alleged that Malloy and state Democrats \”knowingly, willfully and intentionally solicited contributions from a state contractor\” on the trip, adding that \”any contribution made by Mr. Mendonca, a principal of a state contractor, to the CT Dems would violate state law. Similarly, any solicitation of Mr. Mendonca by the CT Dems or Governor Malloy would also violate state law.\”

Mendonca\’s name surfaced Oct. 22 in the Courant’s Capitol Watch blog, which reported that a California Democratic candidate for Congress, David Peterson, had tweeted a thank-you to Mendonca \”for hosting CT Gov. Dan Malloy!\”

But Malloy, on his return to Connecticut, told reporters he never solicited Mendonca for a contribution, and state Democratic Party spokesman James Hallinan said he knew of no setting in which Mendonca \”hosted\” Malloy.

The commission said in its decision Wednesday that Mendonca “denied that he hosted a fundraiser on behalf of either a candidacy of Dannel Malloy or the state Democratic Party.” However, \”Mr. Mendonca admitted that his name appeared on a printed invitation to a Democratic Governors Association (\”DGA\”) fundraiser\” that referred to Malloy as \”special guest.\”

Even though Mendonca acknowledged giving his permission to be listed as \”host\” of the DGA fundraising event, \”he denies that he either attended the event or contributed…and there is no contrary evidence,” the  commission\’s decision said. Mendonca also denied giving any money to the state Democratic Party or being solicited to donate.

Malloy, Harris and Mendonca \”fully cooperated with Commission investigators in providing documents,\” the commission said, adding that it “finds that the responses and assertions made by Mr. Malloy, Mr. Mendonca and Mr. Harris…are consistent with witness interviews conducted and a detailed records review by Commission staff.”

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