On Wednesday a campaign staffer of Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster filed a city ethics complaint against Mayor Bill Finch and city legal consultant Bill Beccaro, a hefty Finch campaign contributor who controls a political action committee Foster claims has an improper financial relationship with the mayor. Beccaro has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars since the beginning of the Finch mayoralty. Today Foster staffer Tom Kelly, in conjunction with the Foster campaign, filed a similar complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Kelly’s complaint preparation was aided by attorney Michele Mount, a Finch supporter in 2007, who has taken on an active campaign role for Foster. The state complaint, like the city complaint, strikes a personal tone in allegations against the spouses of Finch and his Chief of Staff and senior strategist Adam Wood. Mount (OIB friend MCAT) has been a vocal critic of Finch and Wood. Foster news release below followed by link to state complaint and a Freedom of Information request made by Foster to the city seeking PAC-related correspondence.
Democratic candidate for mayor of Bridgeport Mary-Jane Foster’s campaign filed a complaint today with the State Elections Enforcement Committee (SEEC) relative to Mayor Bill Finch and the Political Action Committee “People for Excellence in Government,” Atty. William Beccaro, treasurer. The complaint alleges a quid pro quo exchange between the PAC, Mayor Finch, his wife Sonya Finch, the mayor’s chief of staff Adam Wood, and Wood’s wife, Kerri Wood. The campaign also filed a Freedom of Information request seeking all correspondence, calendar appointments, requests for reimbursements, and cell phone records between Mayor Finch, his staff, and the mayor’s family members relating to the People for Excellence in Government political action committee (PAC) from December 1, 2007 to the present.
“It appears that Mayor Finch, his wife, and their friends are using the People for Excellence in Government PAC as their personal piggybanks,” charged Foster. “While we have access to the public filings of the mayor’s PAC, those tell only one side of the story,” explained Foster. “It is time to shed a light on the relationship between the mayor’s office and the organization established to insure the mayor’s reelection.
“I am confident that when the mayor’s supporters made donations to help him get elected, they didn’t intend for their money to be used to pay for bogus expenses, expensive dinners, presidential inaugurals and Christmas gifts to political cronies. Enough is enough. The people of Bridgeport deserve to know the truth and they deserve fresh leadership this September.”
In 2007, Finch for Mayor contributed its surplus funds totaling $46,056.37 to the PAC. Documentation shows that Mr. Beccaro and Mayor Finch are impermissibly benefiting from this relationship. 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 purchases at 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.
A Freedom of Information request filed by Foster’s team earlier this year revealed that in addition to serving as the treasurer for the mayor’s PAC as well as the lawyer for the Connecticut Senate Democrats, Mr. Beccaro also is employed by the City of Bridgeport as one of three outside Legal Consultants making $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.
“Many politicians have succumbed to the lure of illegal PAC money and it is sad that Mayor Finch, his staff, and friends, who earn very healthy salaries, would allow this to be yet another black eye for the City of Bridgeport,” Foster said.
Today’s SEEC complaint and FOI request follow a complaint filed yesterday with the City of Bridgeport Ethics Commission against Mayor Finch, Beccaro, and the mayor’s Chief of Staff Adam Wood. The ethics complaint details numerous Code of Ethics violations resulting from conflicts of interest that exist between Mayor Finch and Beccaro. This complaint further outlines the improper financial benefit Mayor Finch, his wife, Beccaro, Wood, and Wood’s wife have received from the PAC since 2007.
“Given the recent resignation and guilty plea of Connecticut State Senator Thomas Gaffey for similar kinds of actions, it stands to reason that red flags and alarm bells should be going off with the SEEC,” stated Foster.
According to a January 18, 2011 CTmirror.com article, “Gaffey … pleaded guilty to larceny for double-billing the state and his political action committee for out of state travel. They point to previous complaints including … personal expenses, mainly for travel and cell phone usage.
State complaint here.
FOI request here.