Talk about a good deal: Marcus Paca has to turn over $2,910 — and he gets $19,00 in return.
That’s because the Paca has qualified for matching money for his campaign for the New Haven Democratic mayoral nomination under the city’s public-financing system, known as the Democracy Fund.
Aly Heimer, who administers the fund, said Friday that she has confirmed that Paca passed the threshold of obtaining at least 200 local contributions of $10 or more, plus a total of at least $5,000 in contributions, to qualify for the system’s initial $19,000 grant. (Click here for a story about how an inter-governmental dispute delayed Paca’s certification.)
Moving forward, Paca will receive a 2-to-1 match on the first $30 of every subsequent donation up to a total of $125,000. (In other words, the candidate receives a $60 match for a $30 donation as well as for a $100 donation; a $20 match for a $10 donation.)
In return, the candidate agrees to limit individual contributions to $370 rather than the usually allowed $1,000; to limit spending to $368,000 in the primary election and another $368,000 in the general election (and personal spending on the company to $19,000 in each case); and to forswear contributions from “business entities” and political action committees.
Paca has raised some contributions above the $370 limit, including four $1,000 contributions (the maximum allowed for candidates who don’t participate in the public financing system). So to receive his $19,000 he has to return the difference between those contributions and the $370 limit, or a total of $2,910, according to Heimer. Paca understood all along that this would be the deal, she said.
Paca said in a written statement Friday that he’s “thrilled” that his campaign qualified and looks forward to continuing his participating in the Democracy Fund. He stated that the milestone reflects “incredible momentum around giving, evidenced by the fact that we received nearly 75 percent more donations from New Haven residents than our goal number to qualify.”
That “tells us that our message for new vision, new energy and real progress is resonating with voters. Now, with public financing, we will be able to continue our focus on the concerns of residents, business owners and seniors and won’t be beholden to big donors, special interests or machine politics.”
Paca’s $1,000 contributions, according to campaign finance documents, were William Santagata, owner of the Vandome nightclub on Hamilton street; Genovesi Bianca, a paralegal who lives in Hamden; former city Corporation Counsel Patricia Cofrancesco, who’s now a private lawyer; and her sister Mary Cofranesco, a retired New Haven public school teacher.
Participation in New Haven’s Democracy fund — Connecticut’s only municipal public-financing program — is voluntary. Mayor Toni Harp, whom Paca is challenging for the Democratic nomination this year, has decided not to participate in the Democracy Fund in her campaign for a third two-year term.. She said that’s because she believes the system needs to be tweaked. (Read about that here.)
Advocates tout the fund as a way to limit the influence of big special-interest money in elections and to enable more candidates to field competitive campaigns.
Democracy Fund board Chair Sergio Rodriguez, too, said he’s “thrilled” Paca qualified. “I believe the fund is an important and engaging part of what makes New Haven a great city to live in,” Rodriguez said.
Harp and Paca this week released their most current campaign finance reports, which cover the period ending June 30.
Paca reported raising a total of $14,883, with a balance of $3,527 left on hand, as of June 30. The Harp campaign reported having raised $85,365, of which $49,405 came in in the most recent period. The campaign reported having $13,432 on hand.
The following people donated $1,000 to the Harp campaign: William Curran, a New Haven retiree and philanthropist; Kenneth Horan and Bruno Riga of Guilford; developer Randy Salvatore; Charles Tisdale of Bridgeport.
Harp legislative aide Rick Melita contributed $800 to her reelection campaign; Patsy Mayo of New Haven gave $700. Barbara Hennessey of Hartford, who works for Aetna contributed $600 to Harp’s campaign, as did Harp’s deputy economic development chief, Stephen Fontana of North Haven.
Samuel Hadelman contributed research for this story.