In what amounts to an act of campaign war, Tom Kelly, a supporter of Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster, has filed a complaint with the city’s ethics commission claiming Mayor Bill Finch has an improper financial relationship with city legal consultant Bill Beccaro, a major Finch campaign contributor who controls a political action committee Foster says improperly benefits the mayor. Beccaro, a long-time friend of the mayor who has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the city since the Finch mayoralty began December 2007, also serves as a legal counsel to Connecticut Senate Democrats in Hartford.
In a news release that includes a link to Kelly’s quid-pro-quo complaint Foster charges, “This paper trail speaks for itself–payments back and forth between the mayor, those closest to him, and his political action committee for items that have nothing to do with the mission of the PAC,” explained Foster. “Financially benefiting from the office is a clear violation of the City’s Code of Ethics. Once again, Mayor Finch has betrayed the trust of the residents of Bridgeport and now he has violated his oath of office.”
Tom Kelly, who lives in Black Rock, has been involved in numerous political campaigns through the years and knows just about all of the city’s political players. He is a regular reader and occasional comments contributor to OIB. What will the Ethics Commission do with this complaint? Probably nothing. In recent years it has largely been a toothless tiger that showed nonexistent activity in the final years of the administration of Joe Ganim, as well as John Fabrizi and Finch years. The Ethics Commission ruled months ago that it was okay, following a complaint by Republican Town Chair Marc Delmonico, for City Council members and family/friends to receive VIP-like treatment at the Gathering of the Vibes, a city contract that they approve.
The bigger issue in the short term is how the Finch campaign responds to these charges, which also targets the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and chief strategist Adam Wood. The ethics complaint also strikes a personal tone by including information about the spouses of Finch and Wood. Could Foster supporter Michele Mount (OIB friend MCAT), an attorney who has no love for Finch and Wood be a research contributor to the ethics complaint? Mount supported Finch in 2007.
The Finch campaign is sitting on a mountain of cash it can use to fire back in kind. So far, enjoying a polling lead, the campaign has generally not engaged Foster. The campaign has opposition research about Foster it can unload if Finch operatives suspect she’s inching too close for comfort. See Foster release below that includes a link to the Kelly complaint.
Tom Kelly, a supporter of Democratic candidate for mayor Mary-Jane Foster, filed a complaint today with the City of Bridgeport Ethics Commission against Mayor Finch, Atty. William Beccaro, and the mayor’s Chief of Staff Adam Wood. The complaint details numerous Code of Ethics violations resulting from conflicts of interest that exist between Mayor Finch and his outside legal counsel William Beccaro, who also happens to be both the treasurer of People for Excellence in Government, the mayor’s PAC, and the attorney to the Connecticut Senate Democrats. The complaint also outlines the improper financial benefit Mayor Finch, Beccaro, the mayor’s wife Sonya, the mayor’s Chief of Staff Adam Wood, and Wood’s wife, Kerri, have received from the PAC since 2007.
“This paper trail speaks for itself–payments back and forth between the mayor, those closest to him, and his political action committee for items that have nothing to do with the mission of the PAC,” explained Foster. “Financially benefiting from the office is a clear violation of the City’s Code of Ethics. Once again, Mayor Finch has betrayed the trust of the residents of Bridgeport and now he has violated his oath of office.”
The PAC was established in January 1998 with Carmen A. Pace as Chairperson. William Beccaro became Chair in October 2004. The Chairperson changed again on January 24, 2007, when Beccaro’s mother, Gloria Beccaro, age 85, was appointed to the position.
A Freedom of Information request filed by Foster’s team earlier this year revealed that Mr. Beccaro is employed by the City of Bridgeport. As an outside Legal Consultant, he makes $91,000.00 a year. According to his contract his duties include giving advice, planning, and strategizing. Beccaro’s invoices offer no detail about the cases on which he worked.
Financial filings by the PAC reflect payments to Finch, Finch’s wife, his chief of staff, and chief of staff’s wife for everything from travel to the Democratic National Convention and Presidential Inauguration and “political consulting” to TJ Maxx and Target. Many of the expenses do not include proper documentation or are for items that sound legitimate but are not, such as a Website payment to Kerri Wood, considering the PAC does not have a Website.
Link to Kelly ethics complaint: