Shunned a $95,000 general election public grant by the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Democratic State Senate candidate Dennis Bradley can raise money the old-fashioned way under the rules governing a nonparticipating candidate. Hold on to your wallets! There’re campaign workers to pay.
On Friday the state watchdog commission ruled that Bradley had violated state law when he leveraged the resources of his law firm to pay for a variety of campaign expenses. As a result he was barred from a $95,000 general election grant under the state’s voluntary Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races. So his option to raise money, according to an SEEC spokesman, is outside the program.
Based on the massive Democratic registration advantage in Connecticut’s 23rd Senate District covering about two thirds of Bridgeport and a portion of western Stratford, Bradley’s election is essentially a fait accompli. So why must he raise money? To pay campaign operators canvassing the district, knocking on doors, making phone calls, advising message and strategy and perhaps an assortment of other things.
Bradley’s in unique territory. He had applied for and received roughly $85,000 in public grant money for the August primary after raising $15,000 in contributions of $250 and less, the threshold for approval by the SEEC. That dough arrived to his primary campaign–he defeated Aaron Turner–prior to the exposed revelations uncovered by SEEC investigators that included a complaint filed by Bradley’s fellow Board of Education member Maria Pereira. The primary ended and his campaign money was drained awaiting the general election moolah. Work on the general election continued anticipating the public grant to follow. It’s not coming.
Bradley, according to the rules for a nonparticipating public grant candidate, can accept a maximum personal contribution of $1,000, $10,000 from a state party, $5,000 from a town committee (paging Mario Testa), as well as some other entities. See rules for nonparticipating candidates here.
During his race for governor, Mayor Joe Ganim raised money under the rules for a nonparticipating candidate because the state commission ruled him ineligible due to his 2003 conviction on public corruption charges.
The SEEC is not done investigating Bradley. Still to be determined is the fines it will dish out for the campaign finance violations, be it Bradley, his campaign treasurer Jessica Martinez, also a school board member, or both, as well as a complaint Turner filed in the spring accusing Bradley of texting an improper campaign contribution overture to a mayoral candidate in Stratford in exchange for her support. The offer was rejected.