Balletto’s Ballet–Testa Fundraiser Hauls in $43K, $10K Donated To State Party

Ganim Testa fundraiser
Ganim and Testa at November fundraiser. CT Mirror photo.

When Bridgeport Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa hosted a fundraiser in November at his Madison Avenue restaurant it was billed as a general election rally to also commemorate the one-year anniversary of Mayor Joe Ganim’s comeback. Backed by the political payroll and developers, with an all-star cast of city and state politicians, the chairman flexed his fundraising muscles raising $43,000 for his party committee that night, see here, $10,000 of which was quickly donated to the Democratic State Central Committee chaired by Nick Balletto, see here. You can make friends fast that way.

Finance reports were filed last month with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Speculation centers on Testa trying to position Ganim for a statewide run in 2018. One way to do that is through the mother’s milk of politics: money. It’s a political dance that may speak volumes with Balletto.

During JG1, Ganim and Testa had a close relationship positioning Ganim for statewide office while Testa grew in stature as a political powerbroker helping to maneuver the young mayor as the lieutenant governor candidate in 1994. Bill Curry lost a close general election to Republican John Rowland.

After Ganim’s exile from office followed by a 2015 comeback, they appear to be picking up where they left off. Filings with the State Elections Enforcement Commission show a $10,000 contribution from the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to the state party days after the local fundraiser.

Of the roughly $43,000 raised $9,800 was expended on food at the chairman’s restaurant.

Ganim and Testa are building a strong relationship with Balletto, elected state party chair in 2015 after serving as vice chair under Nancy DiNardo who had a long run as leader.

Ganim is hoping that a strong 2017, with tax relief and development progress begins to recast the luster he enjoyed during JG1. Is Ganim angling for something specific statewide? Not necessarily. It depends on a number of factors such as Governor Dan Malloy’s future prospects for reelection in 2018. Sometimes you position by building contacts, schmooze political operatives and see how things shake out.

A big part of that is showing you can raise money. One of the big surprises of Ganim’s comeback was his fundraising strength in 2015. He surprised even himself. Dissatisfaction with incumbent Bill Finch, who also accumulated a mighty warchest, contributed to Ganim’s fundraising performance.

When it comes to fundraising, Mario keeps score. He relies on the political payroll to step up. Some city employees who contributed for the Nov. 3 event included Director of Labor Relations Janene Hawkins, $250, Finance Director Ken Flatto, $200, Health Director Maritza Bond, $250, Personnel Director David Dunn, $500, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes, $1,000, police officer Ramon Garcia, $500, blight enforcer Danny Pizarro, $500, Deputy City Attorney John Bohannon, $1,000, Public Facilities Director John Ricci, $1,000, City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer, $1,000, Assistant City Attorney Bruce Levin, $500, former Police Chief, now city consultant, Joe Gaudett, $250, mayoral aide Ed Adams, $500, mayoral aide Tom Gaudett, $500, Associate City Attorney Mark Anastasi, $1,000, mayoral aide Danny Roach $1,000.

Some local developers and lawyers also stepped up such as developer Sal DiNardo, $1,000 and land use attorney Ray Rizzio, $2,000.

The fundraiser also took place on the one-year anniversary of Ganim’s comeback win with about 250 pols, friends and supporters filling Testo’s Restaurant ballroom. State elected dignitaries included Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and Attorney General George Jepsen. The suggested contribution was $250 minimum. Prior to the event, Ganim had some trepidation about the turnout considering a scratchy first year led by budget woes and skirmishes from pols whose peeps did not end up on the public payroll.

State elections operate under the voluntary Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races that pony up public dollars after a fundraising threshold has been met based on accumulating small dollar donations.

The fundraising system for municipal, party and political action committees do not function under public dollars. State law, for instance, allows an individual to contribute up to $2,000 per year to a local town committee.

Stay tuned. A bunch more fundraisers will be on the horizon.



  1. The message here is very clear, if you want to keep your City job then you MUST pay to play. Now tell me, how do you tell the mayor he’s wrong when you are told to do something you know is not right? If you want to keep your job you just look the other way.

  2. The vast majority of donors are on the city and state payroll, or have business directly tied to the city.

    Some of these donors are well qualified and earn their salaries, however the vast majority are not qualified for their positions and are significantly overcompensated.

    In essence, taxpayers funded this DTC political fundraiser.

  3. Mojo, you stated I am a very angry person. Well that may be true but the list of people in this article are part of the same group that has brought Bridgeport down. Look at the names and their positions and you will see why this city is dead.

  4. This information is deplorable and depressing. There are so many connotations here, you can just go on and on. This is a poster for Bad Governance. This is not new but it still stinks.

  5. “Of the roughly $43,000 raised $9,800 was expended on food at the chairman’s restaurant.”

    Got to love Bpt politics, Mario pockets, what? $7000 profit of that $9,800 food/booze tab? Probably slipped Joe some of the profit the next day. The corruption never goes away.

      1. Oh … poor Mario. Next his backers will claim he LOST money. Grin must be smiling ear to ear over this one. It’s nothing but the truth so help me God. Of course Mario gave Grin all the sordid details to figure this out.

  6. Harvey, you’re being conservative with Mario’s slice of the pie. In addition, if you take a look a the contributors listed, it’s a small price to pay for the salaries they’re earning.

  7. I know Lisa, I’m giving Mario the benefit of the doubt I suppose. These “fundraisers” Mario throws really work out well for him and Joe. I’m surprised they don’t do them every other month, it’s a hell of a scam they have going.

    1. Harvey, not saying you have to like it, and it can be a distasteful process, but these building-block fundraisers are fairly typical of larger political organizations. You support a candidate, you get hired, you finance the mechanism that puts food on your table. The Connecticut state level has public financing with tens of millions of public dollars financing campaigns to keep the elections “clean.” Some like it, but others don’t like their tax dollars financing races. Ganim, during the 2015 comeback campaign, floated the idea of a pilot program to finance municipal races. He hasn’t followed up on it.

      1. Lennie, I don’t have a problem with these fundraisers, I realize they are a needed tool in the whole process. My issue is Mario, as the town chairman, pocketing a profit off them. Surely the optics of this raises eyebrows, especially in this city. I’m sure there are other venues to hold these fundraisers. Having them at the chairman’s restaurant just doesn’t sit well with me.

        1. Harvey, the only reason Mario fights to hold onto the Town Chair is because it’s good for his business, no other reason. If I didn’t know and love Lennie as much as I do, I’d swear there’s a bit of a “love fest” going on here. I don’t care what’s included in Mario’s expenses, he’s making out like a bandit. Add to that all the business he gets from individuals who think he still has juice, so they go to his restaurants thinking they have the ear of someone who can make things happen. He’s a paper tiger, but he still struts his stuff while his cash register keeps added up the tabs.

          1. Lisa, thanks for having the courage to point out the Emperor has no clothes. No one knows Mario Testa better than you Lisa, you have known Mario since he put his first foot down in America. No one in politics knows him better than you plus you are not intimidated by Mario Testa and Joe Ganim and you have no problem in speaking truth to power. Now that’s true leadership.

  8. Political parties are not the government. They are sanctioned, organized bodies of persons wanting to participate in the democratic process from a (presumably) democratically determined agenda.

    Political parties don’t have the power of government, nor do they have the same ethical constraints as government. The ethical constraints of political parties are determined from within. Otherwise, political parties are constrained by the local, state, and federal laws.

    The State Democratic Party participating in a Bridgeport-chapter fundraiser in Bridgeport is to be expected; if they didn’t participate, that would be a big eyebrow-raiser. Bridgeport city employees contributing to the party is also normal; it is par for the course in any municipality per the political parties in power. (That being said, the list of state elected officials who attended/contributed, with the exception of Nancy Wyman, is a list of positions in need of replacement. George Jepsen is probably the most ineffectual AG Connecticut has ever had. He has accomplished nothing except giving all the public utilities a freer hand in fleecing customers and destroying the state economy. But that’s a whole other blog entry.)

    As far as the Town Committee Chair hosting the event and possibly making a little money in the process; that is the least of Bridgeport’s worries. It’s a Bridgeport-based business employing Bridgeport people paying Bridgeport taxes. It is not at all uncommon for business people involved in politics to host political functions from which they might make a little money. The Harborview Market is a political gathering place and hosts political events, from which Bridgeport politician/activist (and businessman, resident, employer, taxpayer) Rick Torres might make a little money. Who questions that? Rick Torres is above reproach. If one considers all he has freely given to the city as an activist/resident, taxpayer, businessman and employer, why would anyone even think to question the few dollars he might generate for his business directly or indirectly from the political efficiencies provided through his business?

    In the pre-revolutionary days of the US, most political activity took place in taverns. It was the most efficient way to generate a nucleus of political activism for democratic purposes. Now some of the tavern owners became significant contributors to the cause of the Revolution. Would anyone question the few dollars they might have made as a consequence of the political efficiencies provided by their hospitality businesses?!

    Mario hosting a fundraiser in Bridgeport: Much ado about nothing. Perhaps we should turn our attention to the failing Bridgeport and Connecticut economies and the abandoned roles of state elected officials in that regard. [E.g., the fleecing of ratepayers by the various public utilities in the state, from the gas and water companies to the cable-service providers and electric utilities. This is a bigger issue than the huge tax issue in our state, and our elected officials are only playing into the problem, and are indeed a big part of that problem per the blatant granting of carte blanche to the utilities by the incredibly corrupt and inept Malloy Administration and the incredibly inept, unfocused General Assembly and state judicial system.]

  9. Instead of pissing and moaning about how much Mario’s restaurant made, people should take a look at who is listed in this article as attending. Lawyers who deal with land use boards that are appointed by the mayor. You have to ask why a patrolman donates $500 and others contribute anywhere from $200 to $1,000. If Mario’s restaurant weren’t making money, which restaurant would the affair go to? People who go after Mario are doing so over past disagreements or jealousy.

  10. Jeff, you have spelled out clearly about political parties and power and what the true issues are. I also agree with Andy’s point about certain City workers giving donations. Some give directly and others donate by using family members so as to try to hide that they are the real person making the donation. Always follow the money if you want to know what the city, state and federal government are doing.

  11. Lisa, still got a sore ass for not getting a job you wanted for yourself or a family member? If people on the town committee want a different place all they have to do is make a motion to go elsewhere and make sure you have 46 votes. Lisa really, cheerleader? Mario has been a friend of mine for many, many years even after he put up a third slate against Ann B and myself. It’s business, not a nursery school. Grow up, Lisa.

  12. Andy, believe it or not, there are places to hold the fundraisers other than Mario’s place. The Holiday Inn downtown, Joe had a fundraiser at the Four Seasons and at the golf course when he was trying to get elected, etc., etc. Mario isn’t having these fundraisers at his place because there is “nowhere else” to have them. C’mon now, I understand you’re his buddy,but please …. Mario and Joe are pocketing big money off these things.

    1. Harvey, here’s the story on the G2 campaign. When G2 stuck his toe back into the political arena, no one, including Joe, had a clue as to where or how it would play. Testa kept his distance from Joe, at least publicly, he never reached out to Ganim in terms of using his place for a fundraiser since he couldn’t risk really pissing Finch off. The Ganim family then reached out to “safe people and venues” for a couple of reasons. If they fell on their faces, at least they were out of Bridgeport, and second, they didn’t have to pay the prices Testa would charge so they were able to give away at least 60% of freebies to show they had a good attendance. It’s an old ploy, nothing original about it, however once Joe pulled it off, Mario welcomes his events and fundraisers with open arms. And he makes big bucks.

  13. Harvey, my being friends with Mario has nothing to do with anything. I am well aware there are other places in town to hold meetings of the DTC. People want them somewhere else, I said more than once bring it up for a vote at the DTC meeting. Just make sure you have 46 votes. People are pissing and moaning about Mario but say nothing of a PD totally out of control, the city giving away city hall to the police union and the list goes on.

  14. Poor Andy, Pandy, Hardy, Fardy; it must really frustrate you that I’m a successful real estate professional for well over 20 years now. I never wanted or needed anything from the City. Now take a deep breathe, adjust your oxygen, and maybe you’ll croak and go to hell.

    1. Lisa, what childish bullshit; but that is to be expected. Successful real estate agent? Really? what are you selling? You are full of shit or drunk, one of the two because you have spent a lifetime trying to be with the in crowd. I will go back to a previous post–what happened with you and Joe. you were up his ass one minute then hating him the next. What happened, told No by Joe? You old fart, you will go before me. Lisa, quit while you are ahead.

  15. Ron: Your advice to “follow the money” is an almost never-fail truism. In this world, for all creatures including us, it is all about survival; and survival in modern society is essentially all about money. As Lennie has pointed out too many times to recount, “money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Sure; if we follow the donations, we see people of political or politically related positions. Naturally. Sometimes it’s just outrageous, as in cases where corporate and people of wealth “buy” elections. This just happened in a big way. We had a two-way money contest for president, without the possibility of any really happy ending for anyone who can be described as middle class/working class. We got what looks like what will probably turn out to be the “worser” of the two evils.

    But again: While some of us might not be thrilled with the political status quo in Bridgeport, we have to realize Bridgeport life is, to a large extent, determined by regional, state, and federal politics, where we might say, the “real money” buys “real power.”

    The Bridgeport players, whoever they might be, are, and, for the past 60 years, have been controlled largely by state and regional forces. That’s where the big money decisions concerning Bridgeport are made.

    The failure of Bridgeporters to use their vote to steer the direction of state and federal elections, and thereby steer the money/development/jobs to Bridgeport, is a function of the distraction of poverty ($-issue) of much of the Bridgeport electorate (much of which isn’t even registered to vote), and is also a function of the $ that buys lots of brainwashing advertising for the $ candidates.

    If somehow Bridgeporters could be made to realize their votes could truly be the equivalent of $/survival, especially in the case of state and federal elections, we might have been able to steer a lot of the state and regional politics that have knee-capped Bridgeport in a much different direction.

    Yes, Ron. It is all about $. Buying votes is an “investment” to the moneyed classes. Bridgeport sells out way too cheap and largely fails to even cash in in state, national (and even local) elections. Voter mobilization and education is the key to Bridgeport’s revival (and probably survival, and it needs to be focused on producing Bridgeport leverage at the state/regional and national levels. That’s where the real money is. Chasing our tails about petty aspects of the politics of our broke/broken city is really counterproductive in the long run. We have to learn to look up, not just down and to the sides. That is the difference in problem-solving ability between wolves and dogs, wolves examine situations in three dimensions (wolves think to look “up”). More Bridgeport activists and politicians need to start thinking to look “up,” where the real $-decisions affecting Bridgeport are made.

  16. Oh poor little Andy Pandy, what would you know about a successful self-employed professional? Before you were lucky enough to pass the firefighters’ test, you worked menial jobs earning in a year what I can earn in three months. Now you just be grateful for the pension you get from the City, and go back to watching TV and posting on OIB. Be careful to monitor your modest budget, because unlike me, you have no opportunity or experience to ever earn another dime in what’s left of your pathetic life.

    1. Lisa, you have no clue. Have you ever been paid $200 per hour for your work? NO!!! I have. Have you ever been flown across the country at $150/hour to render an opinion on the cause of a fire? I have. You see Lisa, you are small potatoes. Just so you know, I do get called for expert testimony maybe four or five times a year and what I make dwarfs your used-car salesman’s salary. Lisa, so that you know. Typical Lisa, you have no clue what I did when I got out of the military. It’s a shame to see an old crow trying to be relevant. Lisa, it’s getting dark so you can come out now.

  17. Poor old wrinkled Hardy Fardy, with a head that resembles a bowling ball, meaning bald and shining. I just know you were bullied terribly as a child, and most likely into high school, assuming you made it that far. Now it’s time to let it go, whatever time you have left on this earth you should try to live without anger and sad memories of your youth. In addition to the perils of your stability, you seem to have a delusional streak. Now if you had the ability to study and obtain a license from the State of Connecticut, you might have had the opportunity to earn, at times, $500 an hour. You see, you poor ignorant thing, real estate is an exciting monetary experience. Ask any experienced broker how fulfilling it is to put a deal together and receive a commission that boggles the average mind. $150 dollars an hour, I wouldn’t do a rental for that little amount of money, I can’t imagine who would fly you anywhere to render an opinion on the cause of a fire. There must be a real shortage of available opinion makers. Thank God, assuming you’re telling the truth, which you have a problem with because of brain injury from the bullying you caught, we don’t need you here rendering opinions. How sad you think $150 is an impressive amount of money to be paid. Sooo, back to people of a certain age, and may I remind you you are one, just be grateful for the entitlements you receive and live out the rest of your miserable life counting pennies. BTW, I hear you’re walking with a cane, not that I care, but what’s that about? The old gray mare he ain’t what he hoped to be. I hear they’re hiring seniors at the Mall, maybe you can make a few extra dollars doing something within your paygrade.

  18. As I get more and more information, it is becoming increasing evident. To get to Good governance in the City of Bridgeport, Mario Testa has to be put out of business. The deeper you dig, you just see his fingerprints on everything.

      1. Andrew Fardy, off hand I don’t know if anything is illegal. However, I will say Governance in Bridgeport is unethical and the patronage has lead to a City Administration that is not functioning properly and optimally. We have a City Council that has been reduced to a rubber stamp.

  19. Frank: To get to “good governance” in Bridgeport, you need a financially viable populace having the “luxury” of time, as well as the informed motivation to participate in the political process, at least as registered voters. To have a financially viable populace, there is the co-requisite of having an economically viable city. Neither of these things will happen until we get out from under the oppressive forces of the region/state. This latter situation won’t happen until Bridgeporters realize who is keeping them down and in a Third world socioeconomic condition. If we keep obsessively looking inward, we will never see the essential big picture. As long as we use dog-level, two-dimensional problem solving skills, we will remain prey to the 3-D thinking wolves down-county. Keep looking down Madison Avenue for the Bridgeport bogeyman and you’ll never see the wolf pack roaming up and down the Merritt Parkway and I-95 looking to pick off all the dumb “sheep” in Bridgeport.

  20. Here we go again, more BS from a delusional old lady. First you dumb shit, I don’t use a cane. Second I was licensed by the state. I think $150 is an impressive amount when it’s paid per hour. Show me a real estate agent making more than $150/hour. Lisa, I have to stop posting about you my neighbor stopped over and told me it’s not nice teasing an OLD lady who never was too bright; so from me to you, good riddance. Lisa, keep paying your property taxes so I can get my pension.

  21. Now you get your cane today and go take a nice walk so you can exercise your spindly legs. I’m off to an appointment that will earn me a nice commission check. Don’t worry, I always pay my taxes, not for someone like you, who like Trump is on the spectrum of being mentally unhinged. I pay my taxes and have dedicated many years to public service because I love my City and want to contribute in any way I can. Now be a good old man, try not to spew your discontent on others, the end is closer to the beginning for you and I’ll bet they have a special place in hell waiting for you.

    1. Lisa, I checked your rating from the company you work for and you have not sold a house yet. As usual, just the musings of an old woman.
      Lisa, have you looked in the mirror lately? You are so skinny and wrinkled you could not cast a shadow on a bright day. If the end is closer than the beginning for me what is it for you who is quite a bit older than I am. Lisa, just so you know it was me who insured your defeat in the 138th when you ran against Santa. Goodbye, Lisa.

      1. Andy, may I remind you of that primary. Before I do, I want to state the primary between me and Sandy was just that. We are family, I’m her daughter Lisa’s madrina, Sandy and I got caught in a bad political situation that has been long forgotten by the two of us. Now let’s go back to that time when you were on the TC in the 138th. I believe I remember a member of your family held a patronage job, and I knew you would be hard-pressed to support me. I called you and discussed your situation and further told you my call was not to ask for your support, but that I understood the position you were in and would not ask for your support. You thanked me.

        1. Lisa, no member of my family held a patronage job with the city, unlike you and yours. If you and Sandy are such good friends, why were you trying to get her job? Another example of Lisa living in a dream world.

  22. Another very clear situation comes to mind. I was present and witnessed you being called to G1’s office to discuss a vote you were expected to cast when you were a member of the Park Commission. Apparently word got back to the Mayor that you were not planning on being cooperative. In the old City Hall there was very little privacy, so there were many of us present to witness what I’m about to tell. While we were all there for different reasons, no one could miss what happened. You had your back against a wall while you were being verbally worked over. It was so sad to see “bad Andy” cave. The fear on your face was palpable, and you immediately agreed to what was expected of you or a person very close to you would have experienced political retribution. Now since it’s my opinion you are the victim of bullying all your life, I suspect what you were feeling was PTSD. But you were a good soldier, you did what was expected of you, and BTW were never reappointed to the Commission. I have another good one about you, but I’ll save it for my next post. Just a teaser, this one again was a conversation you had with me telling me you were going to contact the Feds, because someone very close to you took the rap for someone in power. To be continued.

    1. Lisa, you really are over the hill. Fear, are you kidding me? What you are saving is my son going to prison. What you don’t know is he did not do it to save a mayor, that mayor had been working with the feds for over a year before my son’s arrest. BTW are you still trying to date married firefighters? No one in my family worked for the city, you dumb shit. I never had a meeting in Ganim’s office and was not back on the park board because I opposed leasing the golf course, you voted for leasing and it cost the city $2 million. I will no longer reply as your posts have become fiction. One day we will talk about you and the junkyard that was on Asylum Street.

  23. To the ball-less wonder, please don’t mistake my responses to you as someone worthy of my time or experience. I have you almost over the edge, and I want to give you enough rope to silence you once and for all. The FBI story is a good one for anyone interested. Unlike the ball-less wonder, I would never leave myself open to lies, slander or libel.

  24. Anything I post or commit to writing will withstand any legal test. I don’t lie. I may state innocuous opinions, but nothing that would cross the line of legal scrutiny. Very shortly Andy Fardy will be put to that test. But first let me share a conversation between him and me that took place shortly after J1 left. This account has nothing to do with Joe Ganim. There was a changing of the guard, mandated by City Charter, I gather by his anger this person close to Andy Fardy was a close associate with the new Mayor and they must have had a relationship known to many. Andy Fardy told me he was going to meet with the FBI because this person close to him was sent away for what he claimed was a charge he was falsely accused of and it was because he was supplying the new Executive Official with illegal products. This might have come to light in the overall investigation. He was going to set the record straight and give information to the Feds in order to implicate what he believed to be an unfairness. I can’t attest to whether or not he followed through on this threat; if he did I suspect the FBI were not interested or recognized Andy Fardy as being unreliable and had no substantial proof. If he had this conversation with me, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one he told this to. It’s time for Andy Fardy to be held to task for his lies, innuendo, slanderous statements, and bizarre behavior against many individuals innocently stating facts or opinions that raise his blood pressure. I for one am keeping copies of his posts that question my involvement with the City and his continued statements that I have relatives working for the City of Bridgeport. He can fess up now by naming names or will be summoned to answer, with proof of his frivolous accusations. Perjury is a serious offense, I have a long career in the private sector, I’ve had high-end clients, including a local judge, my reputation is stellar, and those requiring my services place their most valuable assets in my hands. I know anyone dignifying this unstable person knows me and my character, however he is not above the law and he will answer for his lies and his attempt at assassinating my professional character. A civil lawsuit could cost him dearly, especially since he’s handed me all the proof I need.

  25. Go for it; before you do look up the definition of perjury. What’s the matter Lisa, the truth hurts and now its the threat of a lawsuit? Don’t forget, that works both ways.

  26. We’ll let a legal professional decide this. In my opinion, retaining a legal professional to determine if there is cause for action, especially as it relates to my professional responsibility and reputation, is worth whatever it costs. I strongly suggest you do the same. My business is a creature of State Statutes as they pertain to Real Estate. We are licensed, bonded, insured, required by law to take bi-yearly continuing ed courses in order to renew our real estate license, and in particular, confidentiality is mandated by the Code of Ethics. You have openly admitted you attempted to receive information regarding my business that is protected by law. You have put my clients and their respective real estate in jeopardy by, according to your statements, you were trying to breach the protections put in place for just such actions. I can roll with ‘most anything, but I would be held responsible, and possibly be subjected to a reprimand if I did not disclose this incident.

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