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Cassano Cries Foul Over Outside Super PAC Contributions

The Democratic state senator says an outside super-PAC is spending lots of money to criticize him and endorse his opponent.

State Sen. Steve Cassano, the Democratic incumbent for the 4th Connecticut Senate district representing Manchester, Glastonbury, Bolton and Marlborough, says a slew of last minute campaign ads bashing him and his policies funded by a Fairfield-based super-PAC less than a week before the election aims to "buy" the senate seat for his Republican opponent, Cheri Ann Pelletier. 

According to the campaign expenditure filings on the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission's website, Voters for Good Government Inc., a political action committee set up as a corporation, has spent more than $136,000 in ads either attacking Cassano or endorsing Pelletier over the past 10 days.

Under the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling in 2010, corporations or unions are allowed to spend unlimitedly to either endorse or oppose a candidate, so Voters for Good Government's expenditures are currently not against any election laws or rules as they stand. 

But Cassano says this unfettered political spending by an outside corporation is unfair to a local candidate with limited resources and runs contrary to the idea of democracy that America's Founding Fathers intended. Cassano and Pelletier have both opted to qualify for funding under Connecticut's Citizens' Election Program, which grants candidates state funding once they reach a certain threshold of private political contributions. To qualify for $91,290 in state funding under the program, Cassano and Pelletier each had to raise $15,000 in individual contributions no larger than $2,000. 

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"We put this program in place in this state precisely to prevent this kind of thing," Cassano said. "This is not the type of democracy that I think Thomas Jefferson or anyone else thought about when they created this nation."

On its website, Voters for Good Government says it was created to "promote policies and candidates who will restore fiscal sanity and promote job growth during these difficult economic times." Filings with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission list Thomas Peterffy, a Greenwich-based billionaire, as the sole donor to Voters for Good Government. Peterffy is the founder and CEO of Interactive Brokers Group Inc., an online brokerage firm, and Forbes lists him 77 on its list of richest Americans.

Petterfy told Bloomberg News in an email late last month that he did not know Cassano and was not targeting him intentionally, but that it was important for Republicans to take back control of the Connecticut legislature. Cassano, a former longtime mayor of Manchester, won the seat in 2010 by a slim margin. 

“This policy is not logical, it does not work in the interest of the state and we’ll need a Republican state Senate to reverse it along with other issues, but it will be difficult,” Peterffy wrote in an email to Bloomberg News, noting that politics can be cruel. 

For her part, Pelletier, a member of the Manchester Board of Directors, also says she has never met Peterffy and had no idea the ads were coming in support of her as well - until she turned on the TV one day and saw a picture of her and her family. 

"I have no say over this. I didn't invite Mr. Peterffy into my campaign, and I have no say over it," Pelletier told Patch. "I think I'm the more disenfranchised party here, in some respect. Everybody thinks this is for my benefit." 

Pelletier noted that Cassano has also accepted outside political contributions during his campaigns. 

"I just find it a little ddisingenuous and hypocritical when he's engaged in the same thing," she said. 

But Cassano said that his campaign this year has only received $10,000 from a Democratic senate political action committee, a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the money that Voters for Good Government is spending to influence the race. 

Both Cassano and Pelletier told Patch that they were confident that once voters of the 4th district looked at their records they would decide which of the two candidates best supported their interests. 

One thing is for certain, though, come Election Day, voters will be the ones who decide the outcome of this race - with or without the help of any outside parties. 

Matthew Galligan November 02, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Senator Cassano - please drop the phony outrage - the voters of the 4th Senate District are smarter than you know. You accepted a large amount of outside funding to help you defeat Chip Beckett in 2010, but now when an outside individual - someone Cheri Pelletier does not know and did NOT coordinate with decides to spend his own money to criticize your atrocious record - you're suddenly opposed to outside expenditures. Perhaps you're hoping this issue will deflect from your record that includes, among other things, support for the largest tax increase in CT history, support for the busway to nowhere that I have hardly heard mentioned among any of your campaign mailers or ads, and worst of all, your support for the absolutely horrific Risk Reduction Earned Credits program. You voted to allow criminals back onto the streets of Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury, and Manchester - yet someone else calling you to account for your record is the largest issue here? You also claim, in your press conference with Senator Williams that you had mere "pennies" left in your coffers and could not afford to counter the TV ads. Somehow you found the cash to launch ads countering those claims and decrying "billionaires." Where did that money come from? Your outrage is astounding and your record is sickening. Voters of the 4th District deserve better and Cheri Pelletier will never run from her record the way our incumbent does.
Mike Pohl November 03, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Matt, you are doing a great job as a decisive party Chairman. You and I both know that Senator Cassano has done more for Manchester, Glastonbury, and Bolton in the past two years in the State Senate than Ms Pelletier has during all of her years on the Board of Directors. See you Tuesday Night!
Nathanael Butler November 03, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Manchester, Bolton, and Glastonbury cannot afford more of what Senator Cassano has been doing for us. The Democrats massively increased taxes and still ended up NO better off financially after squandering the whole thing. Noone in that cares about a person who has maxed out all of their credit cards would increase their spending limit to allow them to go further in the hole. That is what the Democrats did and that is why the states debt rating was downgraded by the ratings agencies. We need someone to cut up their credit cards and responsibly manage their cashflow until they pay down their debt and dig out of the deep financial hole they have dug. The fact that the state has to bribe companies to stay here says it all. One party rule of CT is why this state is dead last financially, drowning in regulations and unfunded debts, and has not been growing even before the economic colapse. We cannot afford more of what Malloy, Cassano, and the other Democrats have been doing for us.
Gerry Guay November 03, 2012 at 02:08 PM
$49,000 is what each taxpayer in Connecticut is in debt to our state. Yes, Connecticut ranks #1 in debt among all 50 states thanks to Senator Cassano and the Democrat leadership (or lack of) in this state. Is it no wonder that the path the Democrats have chosen with $1.6 Billion in new taxes and little, if any expenditure cuts and expensive corporate welfare in giveaways of our hard earned tax money has put our state #1 in spending and debt? Senator Cassano should not be surprised when a PAC in Connecticut targets him and the Democrats in charge so that maybe the voters will learn the thruth about the spending and change the course of Connecticut's doomsday scenario. We can't afford more of the same.
tina bourke November 03, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Once again, the naysayers for Cassano don't want to listen to facts and spew out rhetoric. Peteffy is buying the election and he states it above. He wants Republicans back in the seat while he wants Democrats in the other seat, the electric chair! No matter how you justify it, that is buying an election and he states it period! Learning he is 77 of the most wealthiest people, it explains his motivation to me. Come Peteffy, you know the Bush era tax cuts are soon expiring and Democrats want to level the playing field with the top percent earners, YOU. This is all about you, power and greed. Oh I so get it now. Cheri is just a pawn in your greed. You want to stack the cards even if the president does win for more partisan politics exactly what will eventually ruin all of us!! Comical really! You don't care about our towns because if you had, Mr. Peteffy you would not peppered the money on our schools instead of buying an election. Its not too late to redeem yourself. And please don't shoot the messenger with your power...
Greg November 03, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Please acknowledge the voters care about facts not who is paying for an ad. If the facts are wrong then a candidate should focus on correcting the facts not who is paying for an ad. I am sorry to say I believe 95% of all candidates would sell their soul to the devil if it got them elected. I really want to have any candidate that voted for our huge tax increase explain to me how that has made my life and the lives of my family better. If he or she can not do that they will NOT get my vote.
Greg November 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Tina help me understand how Connecticut leveled the playing field by the democrats voting in huge tax increases for the middle class. Do the democratic candidates at the national level have a different philosophy than democrats at the state level in CT who raised taxes on the middle class?
tina bourke November 03, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Greg, you are confusing the two topics. And besides, Mr. Peteffy is selling our soals, not the other way around. Anyway, have you forgotten prior to Malloy, Rell and Roland, were not being honest about how dire our financial situation was in Connecticut. Instead of addressing the issues, they used tricks with the budget to appear as though we were operating fine. In addition to this, Rolland negotiated out a 20 year sweet deal with the unions. This included grandiose pension packages for which we to this day and years to come are now responsible to fund and to which we also cannot afford. The money has to come from somewhere? It isn't going to fall out of the sky and certainly not going to come from Mr. Peteffy. There is only so many sources for money and without the increase in taxes, it may have seriously impacted city and towns. Not only did he raise taxes to try and fix some of these issues, he also made some serious compromises with the unions. For a Democrat to do this shows real compromise! Greg voting for a billionair's antic's, you already sold out!! Money will never buy my vote and obviously your bought so don't waste my time.
tina bourke November 03, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Matthew, I have read on this subject and know first hand. The U.S. has the largest amount of its population incarcerated then any other country. Prior to DNA, they used witnesses. This was found to be the most flawed system. We know for a fact there are serious cases of racial profiling from police as reported in the news recently. A large percentage of correlations are racial inequality within the prison population. Many of the mentally ill after deinstitutionalized (institutions closing,) wound up in prisons and stay in the system for very low crimes originally. We have serious criminal too. Only within the last five years some of the prison staff were state mandated to hold credentials. This means staff also will be held accountable. Earned credit will mean inmates have to attend programs. Now they do not have to do anything if they chose not to. Attending programs will increase the ability to measure pathology, risk, insight and assess as a team. Recidivism is very high anyway. These programs help to obtain skills to integrate inmates into the community to reduce the risk of falling back to crime and reduce recidivism. It isn't being nice to bad people, it is solutions to try and address it from every direction. I got so much more, but Matthew please do some research.
James Bond November 03, 2012 at 08:06 PM
You are telling me that Cheri Pelletier didn't know she was getting this outside help? Do you think we're stupid? She probably requested it for cryin'-out-loud. Post your lies somewhere else.........like a Mitt Romney site they're good at lies!!
Greg November 03, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Sold out is what Rell, Rowland and now Malloy all have done with the unions. I am not sure why you think I have sold out to anyone, what I do not have is blind loyalty to any party or candidate. Thank you for trying to explain how tax increases help the middle class; however, you seem to confuse why it was done rather than how anyone that voted to do it can honestly say they are helping the middle class. If you really want to help Mr Cassano please consider focusing on what he has or has not done for you rather than Peteffy, that is what I am doing.
tina bourke November 03, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Greg, take your own advice. I live in a town where we need over 20 million dollars worth of repairs for our schools, yet board members voted in many expensive projects to the contrary and the schools are left in limbo with no clear direction except deteriorating.....
Janet I. November 03, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I am Democratic BUT I WILL NOT VOTE FOR CASSANO.See I remember what you did to the town of Manchester public workers.You took jobs away from them.you took the tree skyworker away and left people to scramble for work in other dept.I will never forget or forgive you for all the crooked things you pulled.You do not have my vote. Jan
tina bourke November 03, 2012 at 09:36 PM
^Anyone left scrambling for work in other departments, still has a job. All the more reason to vote for CASSANO!!! @James Bond, perhaps you didn't understand my post? I'm not for Cheri or Mitt.
James Bond November 04, 2012 at 12:39 AM
tina, My post was towards Matt's comments not yours,sorry for the confusion.Enjoy your evening. 007
Scott Aiken November 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Mr. Galligan and Mr. Pohl, it is disappointing what 4th senate seat race has boiled down to in the days leading up to the election: bickering and using fallacy to try to fan the flames of opposition. Unfortunately this has become endemic to most of the other races across the state and nation. The irony is so thick when I see the facade of bi-partisanship in words, and then divisiveness in actions. Where’s the leadership? All I see is finger pointing. I see lofty visions for each candidate, but where is the plan to implement those visions? I see nothing concrete. All I see are candidates and party leadership trying to nail Jello to a wall. I am not surprised that the percentage of unaffiliated voters has been on the rise in CT since 1990. http://www.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/electionservices/electionresults/statistics/enrolhst.pdf Personally, I switched from a party to unaffiliated because I’m more interested in pragmatic compromise that moves us forward. Sadly, each of your parties seems to be moving us further and further away from that.
Greg November 04, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Well said Scott, it would be a dream come true if all candidates were unafiliated and vowed to work together in the best interest of the people. Kind of like a amateur sports team, all different backgrounds pulling in the same direction. While "party bosses" are good intentioned why would anyone care about what they think.
tina bourke November 04, 2012 at 06:29 PM
^When you have special interests buying the seats for power and control, all should be on the table and questioned. In this case you have a stated special interest and a name of the super pac donor. He wants the republicans in office and he has the money to buy the influence. The powerless like us, or me, all that is left is our first amendment rights. Our political free speech and the right to question and or express as well as to attempt to be informed as much as we can be about our candidates who will affect all of us in office. Mr. Peteffy is the one who is influencing party partisan and he states it. He doesn't even know the candidates nor cares to. If Cheri wants to run for a political office, she will have to be open to this. I'm reading a history of non bi-partisan politics with her work ethic? One person to perhaps question is Wally Irish?? We shouldn't be made to feel someone has so much power to take any of this away.
Greg November 04, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Last time I checked you have one vote and Mr Peteffy has one vote so you are as powerful as he. What you seem to think is others are not smart enough to figure out his motives. Tina I wish you had more faith in the average voter because at the end of the day they will each independently voice their own opinion.
tina bourke November 04, 2012 at 07:49 PM
^Thanks Greg, I'll put my money on the informed voter.....
tina bourke November 05, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I received a flyer in the mail about Cassano and it states it was paid for from Roger Sherman Liberty Center, Inc. It also states the message is independent of political party. What a joke as when I researched Roger Sherman Liberty Center, I learned they are suing Democrats. To me that is party motivated propaganda period. They are targeting Democrats in the lowest form of politics. Power, greed and control will not be on the agenda tomorrow for my vote!! I hope the billionaires and millionaires are not successful in buying this election!!

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