The Public Finance Scam, Plus: What’s With Fig?

Barack Obama’s rejection of the federal public finance system sets up an interesting question for candidates running for state office. Should they opt in or out?

Connecticut’s groundbreaking public finance system, although noble on paper eliminating special interest money, is a scam created by incumbents to protect incumbents. Want to run for state representative? You raise $5,000 in small contributions and win a $25k windfall. For state senate raise $15k and receive $85k for a total of $100,000. Problem is, it’s extremely difficult to defeat an incumbent with such a low expenditure. Incumbent state reps such as Chris Caruso and Bob Keeley, in the position to make friends by virtue of their positions, are difficult to defeat under any circumstances. Throw in their franking privileges, another legal scam, and it’s even tougher. Franking privileges include the taxpayer-paid government mailers that serve as de facto campaign pieces. “Look at all the great shit I’ve done for you as your representative” the government mail piece proclaims shamelessly, a map highlighting the millions for this and the millions for that. It’s called power of incumbency. And a lot of the time, the projects highlighted on the map never even materialize because they never reach state bonding authorization.

Want to even the playing field? Eliminate franking privileges during election years.

The public fundraising system is voluntary so candidates can go the traditional route to raise more money but such a move could set them up for criticism. There is a flip side to this: many challengers cannot raise more than the legal threshold provided in the public financing system so they take the free dough.

This is the first year the Connecticut finance system will be implemented broadly so we’ll see how many incumbents will be taken out.

Fig’s New Farm

My ol’ brother in arms CT Post reporter Mike Mayko has a story today wondering why former State Sen. Ernie Newton, doing time for accepting bribes, was transferred from the federal camp in Fort Dix, NJ to the one in Lewisburg, PA. The Lewisburg Camp features a special drug program for offenders with a long substance abuse history. (My guess is, Ernie’s probably in it.) Entering the program that focuses on life skills rather than the typical mundane world of doing time (do the time, don’t let the time do you), provides eligibility to shave many months off an inmate’s sentence. It would place Ernie on the street a lot sooner than his scheduled release in the summer of 2010. Not all inmates have time shaved for entering the program, but it’s time better spent. I get the feeling the Moses of his people will be running for something again.

Another Fabs Film Fest

Hey, you missed the screening of The Accidental Mayor, filmmaker Larry Locke’s docudrama of Johnny Fabs? You have another shot to see it to benefit the Burroughs Community Center. Details below:

After a sold out first screening, the public is invited to attend a second benefit screening of THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR, a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Larry Locke, of Westport, Connecticut. The screening, scheduled for Monday, June 30, 2008 at 7:00 P.M. at the Community Theatre Foundation, 1424 Post Road, Fairfield, will benefit the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport.

Filmed from 2005 through 2008, Locke had unprecedented access to John Fabrizi’s inner sanctum, capturing both the successes and failures of his dramatic four-year tenure as mayor. THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR is a raw, compelling tale of a man whose personal struggles directly reflect those of his hometown.

In 2003, Fabrizi became THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR of Bridgeport. Could he live up to the terms of office? Surprising even himself, he defied expectation and helped his city believe again after 40 years of missed opportunities and broken promises. Fabrizi wore Bridgeport on his sleeve but would it be enough to overcome his personal demons? Under the glaring lights of the national media, Fabrizi takes Bridgeport on a wild roller coaster ride that leaves both him and his city changed forever. For more information, visit

Tickets are $25.00 each. Proceeds will benefit the Burroughs Community Center. Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling the Burroughs Community Center at (203) 334-0293 or by visiting the Center, 2470 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and Sunday from 9:30 A.M. – 3:30 P.M. One ticket will be reserved for each $25 donation made online at donation_page.html.



  1. At the state level there are no benefits to opting out of the financing. If one person opts out and raises more money the state gives more money to the publicly financed candidate. Also, lobbyists etc. are limited to $750.00 maximum donation. At the representative level, even getting to $30,000.00 is very difficult and if you go over the state just gives more to the other candidate. It is not exactly matching but they have schedules up to $15,000.00, I believe. As to Senator, I don’t know the amount, but the same is true about getting extra funds if one of the candidate goes over. Lennie is right it is hard to take out an incumbent, but at least with public financing they have to go through the same process and can’t rely on their old lobbyist pals or PAC money. The playing field is even, but incumbents do have the home team advantage.

    With Barack Obama it is a different ballgame; why settle for $80 million when you can raise $100’s of millions on a national campaign. It is for the Presidency.

    I hesitate to say this for fear my head will be taken off, but don’t be too hard on Clichebpt, he speaks the truth. I personally lobbied Russo and told him the Mayor would love a forensic audit; just get the state to pay for it. I would hope Rob would tell you that is true. In Hartford when it comes to doing what is best for Hartford, (at least in Bridgeport) there was no Republican or Democrat, Finch team, or Caruso team. The goal was to work together. I’d bet my reputation on it, that if you asked any of them personally they’d tell you the truth. In fact I had great results with that approach. I didn’t agree with Rob on the real-estate tax conveyance and tried to get him to change his mind, but that was my job. But there were several other bills I asked for his help, and Gomes’ help and all 6 legislators. It felt great when we functioned as team and got something accomplished, like last year getting $6-7 million dollars more every year for Bridgeport starting this year. Finch was a huge part of that and you know what so was Caruso in the end. How could anyone on the delegation not be?

    I loved my job, but that is why I left so I could run for State Representative (not in Bridgeport). I intend to use my bipartisan relationships to help this state and my region and my town, and I will work with any Senator or Representative to accomplish common goals.

  2. Nothing personal. There’s only one “h” in Thbbbbbbbbt.

    I can’t stand it when Finch and his blind supporters like you have the audacity to suggest that the audit was all Finch’s idea. How do you defend his public claim that an audit would be a waste of taxpayer’s money? Further claiming that Ramos needs only to tighten things up a bit.

    Secondly, and I checked. ALL of the DiNardo litigation was filed while Johnny Snorts was still thinking about perpetuating his fraud by running again. It really chafes my buns to have to listen to this jerk claim credit for that too.

    Life is real, MCAT. I only want people in office who are capable of realizing that it may not be the rain that is wetting their socks.

    I suppose you think Keeley and Rodgerson are worthy of public service too.

  3. If Yahooy is giving MCAT lessons on spellcheck he must be pissing in the Summer Wind.
    He needs a rain check or is it a brain check. Check-in for the Liberty Rock must be early today. I didn’t know they had wi-fi. Hi to Anna.

  4. Gossip of The Rialto

    Odd Couple!

    Blonde Banshee to star in 2 Summer smashes. Illegally Parked and Illegally Blonde.

    Rapid Robert scheduled for filming of Sign Wars and female impersonation of Banshee in Miss Representation.

    And the Oscar (or Felix) will go to?

  5. I thought Grogins was going to be in the re-make of Harold and Aude. Is Keeley’s film going to be a sequel. It reads like a Tootsie role.

    My vote is going to Keeley.

  6. Yahooy,
    1) I don’t “blindly” follow anyone; if you read closely I have left the City to pursue other avenues.

    2) If everyone had your attitude nothing would get done.

    3) Rarely does anything happen in a vacuum. Ideas especially in legislation are usually not unique.

    4) I don’t appreciate being called a liar. I am telling you from MY own personal experience about my job relationships, not from hearsay.

    5) When I was in Hartford I supported every legislator when it came to trying to get things done.

    6) The first thing I said to Rob Russo when he went to Hartford was, up here my job is not about politics. If you want my help and are working on mutually desirable legislation I’d be happy to help any way I can. He said thank you. In turn I went to Rob on a issue or two. Most legislators work with their mayors, it benefits both of them even if they are different sides of the aisle. When it is time to accomplish something, it is about the goals not about politics. Politics is what happens when everyone tries to take sole credit for a mutual effort.

    7) Just because I think it is better to get along with anyone who can help your goals does not mean I am Pollyannaish, it’s smart and effective.

    8) Think very hard on this one … Is it fair to think you have a picture of someone because of who they supported?

    9) If you think real life is only about taking sides and making enemies, then I am really glad I don’t live in your world. I’d rather get along with people and occasionally agree to disagree and move on.

    10) I have results to back up my statements, what do you have to back up yours?

  7. Holy shit…batgirl!!!

    I wish I had time to respond to your sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Regrettably, I don’t. Check-in time at the Liberty Rock is 4:00pm. If I get there early enough, I’ll get the desirable Bungalow B. Great view. I can watch the cockroach races on the wall while checking out the drive-thru lane at McDonalds.

    Did you really say, “you can have my help so long as you are working on legislation I like”?

    Enjoy your reign as Philistine of the Week.

  8. Lennie,
    Tell yahooy that Lisa Parziale doesn’t BLOG. I imagine Big Red would say something like, “Honey, I don’t need to hide behind some false identity on the internet. If I don’t like you or don’t like what you are doing, I have no problem telling you right to your face. OK, Honey? Now leave me alone and go play with your computer. And come back when you are ready to act like a grownup.”

  9. Lennie:

    Ernie Newton is at the Satellite facility which has no fence or Barbed wire. Inmates are free to go and come, some inmates are even allowed to drive their vehicles. There are other reasons why Ernie was moved. In most cases, inmates serving time for non-violent crimes and are close to being released are picked to live where Ernie is at. Let’s not beat around the bush Lennie, what the Local Democrats are wondering is whether or not Ernie Newton is cooperating with the feds? There is a possibility this is the case and Ernie was removed so Joe Ganim doesn’t tip anybody off. Imagine Newton taking a page from Pinto and Grimaldi. I can hear the paper shredding – Oliver North style.

  10. Joel seems to be an expert on prisons too. I’m not surprised.

    Interesting scenario… Moses and Eliot Ness.

    Joel is definitely NOT Lisa Parziale.

  11. Hey friends and foes, JOEL is not LISA!!! JOEL is a raving lunatic!!! Still not to be confused with LISA!!! Anyone hear about SASSYSTROM lately???

  12. Joel, unfortunately I’m quite familiar with camp life. Lewisburg is not the place to finish out time unless it’s for the drug program. I think my explanation is more likely than yours. I know a little about the cooperating process. If Ernie was going to cooperate with the government he would have done so a long time ago so he could ask for leniency at sentencing. But let’s assume you’re correct. Who can Ernie give up? The government generally is not in the business of using the whale to get the minnows. Ernie was the whale in his case.

  13. yahooy – haven’t you noticed before that Joel knows everything about everything and everybody? Maybe he should get a job as a fortuneteller since he has such perfect insight. He has the qualifications, since he’s such a bullshit artist. Just wish he’d stop sharing with us on this blog and talk to the animals.

  14. Lennie – did you really think Joel knew what the hell he was talking about in his posting about Newton? He makes it up as he goes along for our reading enjoyment.

  15. MCAT, you are one of the most sincere, honest and intelligent persons that I know. Don’t take any shit from anybody. I wish I lived in your town so I could vote for you. I don’t want to tell you what to do, but you may not want to post on this blog anymore. It does you no good to argue with morons, just brings you down to their level. Yahooy at least she has the cajones to put her neck on the line, while all you can do is bitch about what’s wrong. I don’t care who she supported, she is intelligent and kind and that is more than I can say about most people.

  16. Johnb

    I never questioned my good friend MCATs honesty, integrity and vision. All I implied was that she is a little stunod when it comes to Finch.

    BTW…it’s spelled COJONES.

  17. jonb
    Let Lennie be anything he wants to be, keep his politics out of this. It, when mixed with religion, can be a point of contention especially at a pub and it arrives nowhere.
    By the way are you a Jain?

  18. Moses is going to Lewisburg to take advantage of their drug rehabilitation program. Seems to me, Moses has been in the clink for quite some time. How come he had access to drugs at Ft. Dix??

  19. MCAT you need to take off those rose colored glasses. I am sure the Mayor supported doing the audit as long as THE STATE PAID FOR IT. Now that’s courage. He gets to take a shot at the Board of Education (which more than deserves it) and doesn’t have to contribute a cent.

    The real question is what was Senator Finch doing when he could have actually gotten the money…..months ago.

  20. Thank you Former City Official. – Why wasn’t Senator Finch pushing for an audit when he was a senator???? Now he jumping on the band wagon???

    And Black Rockin, who or what is “Jain”?

  21. Black Rockin is way ahead of us. Just went to Wikipedia for an explanation of “Jain”. Here’s the skinny:

    “Jains are a small, influential religious minority with at least 4.2 million followers in modern India,[7] and more in growing immigrant communities in the United States, Western Europe, the Far East including Australia and elsewhere.[8] Jains sustain the ancient Shraman (श्रमण) or ascetic religion and have significantly influenced other religious, ethical, political and economic spheres in India for over two millennia.
    Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy in India.[9] Jain libraries are India’s oldest.[10]”

  22. 1. The state is paying for it.
    2. It was all Moonbeam’s idea.
    3. If it is properly done by a legitimate independent firm of certified (BTW…will this be a certified audit? makes a difference) auditors, recommended changes to policy and procedure will result.
    4. Does Moonbeam have the cojones to buck the political ramifications and implement the necessary remediation?

  23. Yahooy: What did you say? – “It was all Moomeam’s idea”? You’ve got to be kidding. If it were all his idea, why didn’t he do something about it while he was senator for all those years?
    We have been pleading for an audit for the past eight years that I know of and all falling on deaf ears.
    Give credit where credit is due. – Rob Russo (together with our Governor) got it done in just a few months of his tenure!!!

  24. I love audits…especially the top to bottom, operational and organizational effectiveness kind.

    I love them even more when there’s a level of transparency and visibility that makes change and improvement almost impossible to avoid.

  25. Con

    All sarcasm. That son of a bitch never had an original thought in his life.


    Give me a break!!! Go back and read all of the lollipops she wrote about Finch all through the primary, the general election and the 1st couple of months he was in office. It doesn’t get any more rose colored pollyanna than that.

  26. In the race between Caruso & Silva it’s a slam dunk for the man with the juice card up in Hartford, “Caruso”! Silva’s a great guy but on the political city record, what has he actually achieved in his district? The political record speaks volumes if voters take the time to find & read its contents if any. Remember personal gain in politics is nice but you should “earn” your way up the ladder by proving you’ve done something in your district first, ’cause it’s really the small things that matter to the average citizen.


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