Elicker To Harp: Give Back That Bundle

Thomas MacMillan PhotoMayoral candidate Justin Elicker challenged his frontrunner Toni Harp to return $9,000 in campaign contributions she received from nine suburban doctors a day after the city canceled a $180,000 contract with their company. Harp said she sees no reason to.

The sparring took place Monday as the general election campaign began in earnest—with Elicker (pictured) signalling that he plans to press the money-in-politics issue that resonates with his base.

Harp clobbered Elicker and two other Democrats in last week’s Democratic mayoral primary. Elicker emerged as the top challenger and is continuing his campaign as an independent in the Nov. 5 general election. (The two other candidates ended their candidacies.)

Monday found him at the Hamden headquarters of Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, the biggest bundler of contributions to Harp’s campaign.

As the Independent first reported last week, the city on July 25 sent out a letter announcing that the company would no longer be authorized to treat city workers for work-related illnesses under the government’s workers compensation plan. The firm took home about $800,000 from that contract in the previous fiscal year. The city acted after one of the firm’s doctors signed a form stating that a public-works employee should be limited to four or five hours of light-duty work a day. The doctor later admitted signing it not for medical reasons, but because the employee wanted time to work a second job. The city has been trying to crack down on out-of-control workers compensation costs. (After negotiations with DeStefano administration officials, the company was allowed back in on the plan with new conditions, including one barring the doctor.)

On July 26, that doctor and eight others from the firm wrote $1,000 checks (the maximum allowed by law), to Harp’s campaign.

Elicker called that a “typical example of pay-to-play politics in New Haven, where politicians pressure companies into contributing to campaigns in order to do business with cities like New Haven.”

He spoke on Monday outside the Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists offices on Whitney Avenue in Hamden, backed by a row of supporters holding Elicker campaign signs.

“Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists has a strong reputation in the state, and surely does not have negative intentions,” Elicker said.

City of New HavenElicker called pay-to-play practices unethical and wasteful. “It creates an unfriendly environment for developers looking to invest in New Haven,” he said. “And it increases the likelihood of preferential contracts being given out to those who donated, rather than those who are best for the job.”

Elicker cited a Harp quotation from this Independent story: “People who give don’t expect a quid pro quo. They just want a meeting, maybe, to give their point of view.”

“Sen. Harp, that is a quid pro quo,” Elicker said. “This is a policy of ‘pay-for-access to Toni Harp.’ Forcing organizations to pay to a campaign to get access to the politician is exactly the type of pay to play that we must stop in New Haven.”

Elicker said the contributions from Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists is the most “egregious” instance of pay-to-play politics seen yet this election year. He called on Harp to return the $9,000.

“I have a long history” of serving in government, both before the introduction of public-financing systems and after, noted Harp, an 11th-term state senator and a former city alderwoman. “There’s no relationship between how I do business and how I run my campaign.” She said campaign contributors have never bought influence with her legislative work.

She also said that the surgeons’ contract is not technically with the city, but with an outside vendor, CIRMA (the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency). The firm’s CEO met with the DeStefano administration’s chief administrative office, Rob Smuts, to negotiate the return to the plan, including the conditions, and wrote him a letter directly to confirm those conditions.

Harp: I Wouldn’t Kill The Democracy Fund

Monday’s back-and-forth played out against the backdrop of an ongoing campaign debate over the role of money.

Elicker participated in the primary in the Democracy Fund, the city’s voluntary public-financing system. That limited him to $370 (rather than $1,000) per individual contribution, and barred him from accepting money from outside committees. In return he received matching public dollars. He argued that public-financing removes or lessens the influence of wealthy and out-of-town donors and special interests from government.

Harp has chosen not to participate in the system—and has raised most of her money from out of town. At a recent debate she took aim at the Democracy Fund. “In our city budget, we spend over $200,000 on the Democracy Fund while cutting programs to our young people. And so I am very concerned about when we have these conversations, we haven’t looked at the whole picture,” she said.

In an interview Monday, she said she wanted to clarify those remarks.

She has no intention of trying to get rid of the Democracy Fund, she said. She said she supports its existence. She said she supported the state legislation that enabled the city to create the fund as a first-in-the-state municipal pilot.

She meant to focus on the hypocrisy of her opponents depicting the city as facing a Detroit-style fiscal crisis, she said. If New Haven were really in that kind of crisis, she said, then the candidates would have to “look at” whether the city can afford paying for the Democracy Fund. She said she does not believe New Haven faces that kind of crisis. “We can still have the Democracy Fund and make small [budgetary] changes to get our house in order,” she said.

Cora Lewis PhotoHarp said she supports the idea of “fixing” the Democracy Fund by not allowing a candidate to use it to “get his name out” in a primary—and then run in the general election having benefited from it. Under the current system, candidates cannot use the system in both a primary and a general election. So Elicker can’t use it in the general election.

Elicker said he nonetheless intends still to abide by the rules of the Fund—the $370 limit and the restriction against outside money—even though he won’t receive any more matching money.

Harp said the city system should work like the state system: some of the money should be available in a primary, but the entire matching grant should be spread out between the primary and the general election.


“In our city budget, we spend over $200,000 on the Democracy Fund while cutting programs to our young people. And so I am very concerned about when we have these conversations, we haven’t looked at the whole picture.”

After Elicker’s press conference, the Harp campaign issued a release calling Elicker’s suggestion of returning the money “ridiculous” in light of Harp’s record of service; and criticizing him for negative campaign that “distracts from the real issues.”

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posted by: anonymous on September 16, 2013  4:15pm

Kudos to Harp for backtracking on her statements about the Democracy Fund.  It wasn’t exactly a great idea for her to be perceived as a candidate who wishes for her wealthy donors and special interests to have the only voice in local politics.

That said, we can all “read between the lines” of her comments, particularly given her recent vote to undermine public financing at the state level, in a bill signed into law this June by Governor Malloy (one that, of course, had no press conference and was largely ignored by the media).

posted by: HewNaven on September 16, 2013  4:18pm

What’s ridiculous is that Toni Harp cannot say no to special interest money. As we enter a new era of politics where government is more accessible and more responsive, politicians like Harp are going kicking and screaming, holding on to the pay-to-play schemes of the past. Get on the bus, Toni.

posted by: Noteworthy on September 16, 2013  4:33pm

Record of Service and Pay to Play Notes:

1. Let’s be very clear. Toni Harp doesn’t believe in clean elections. That’s why she voted to invite sanctioned bribery into the state elections system by gutting the campaign finance reforms put in place after Rowland. Clean elections just complicates things in her world of influence reaping.

2. Harp has not suggested, wrote or proposed a single bill that would clean up the “culture of corruption” that permeates the Connecticut legislature which is why prosecutors call it a “culture of corruption.” That corruption is all tied to campaign donations. Something should have been done following the arrest of Donovan’s campaign staff and his direct knowledge of the nature of those crooked donations.

3. Harp never called for Chris Donovan’s removal or for him to step down.

4. “Fixing” the Democracy Fund does not mean limiting freedom to stand for office. “Gettinig one’s name out there” is precisely what the Democracy Fund is supposed to help you do so that voters have real choice - real democracy. Does Toni Harp understand this concept?

5. If Harp is worried using the Democracy Fund for campaigning, perhaps she’ll suggest legislation at the ordinance level that precludes someone from running for office if they or any business from which they benefit, owe any taxing or taxpayer supported authority in the state - that’s how it is with car registrations.

6. There is one reason for this bundled cash from Connecticut Orthopedic Specialists - Put money in to get money out. It’s crooked. It’s wrong on the giving and the receiving end. Frankly, COS should be banned from doing business with the city because of its fraud - not embraced with a Judas’ kiss that screws taxpayers.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on September 16, 2013  4:37pm

I don’t see how this is a negative campaign from Justin.  If you want to talk about negative, isn’t it ironic how the Harp campaign had a press conference stating that Justin wanted to close a fire station when he in fact didn’t say that? Now that’s a negative campaign.
I think in light of the fact about the whole situation with the CT orthopedics scandal, the money should be returned.  That’s taking an honest approach.  But when you are getting money from pacts and super pacts, the campaign manager can set those up for the candidate and the candidate can just say, I didn’t know where that money came from.  Typical campaign finance pay to play tactics..
But, in spite of all of this and who knows what other junk will come out, New Haveners will still show up in full force in Nov to put her in office.

This is a disgrace.

posted by: alex on September 16, 2013  4:54pm

The state’s campaign finance reform system was not gutted by the legislature. Some parts of the system were weakened, as some contribution limits were increased, but it is still largely intact.

Citizens United and its progeny at the Supreme Court, however, has in some ways gutted the state’s campaign finance reform system by barring the state from controlling certain so-called “independent expenditures” and ruling parts of the state’s public financing system unconstitutional.

Last year’s campaign finance bill exempted some party expenditures from regulations and raised many contribution limits. This, however, was partly an effort to combat the onslaught of unaccountable “independent expenditure” groups by empowering the parties (which in theory are more accountable to the public) to take a bigger role in elections. This is a trend that’s been seen across the nation, not just in Connecticut.

* * *

Also, I applaud Justin Elicker for bringing attention to contractor/lobbyist donations—a real problem—but I don’t think this particular case is necessarily corruption at play.

As Ben Berkowitz put it in his HuffPo blog post that’s currently linked on the front page, sometimes businesses donate as “nothing more than a personal security decision.” That is, they donate not because they know it will buy influence, but on the off chance that it might (and they’re risk averse). On this theory of contractor contributions, Toni Harp may only be guilty of being the frontrunner in the race. The contributions, with nothing more, do not prove that Toni Harp is a politician who “pressure[s] companies into contributing to campaigns”—these surgeons may just be hedging just in case.

To be sure, such contributions raise the appearance of corruption—and that should be enough for the city and state to ban such contributions. Contributions by state contractors are banned in many races: http://1.usa.gov/197Y5vS

But the further step that Toni Harp is corrupt is unwarranted, IMHO.

posted by: getyourfactstraight on September 16, 2013  5:09pm

Toni certainly understands the importance of running a clean campaign…..but just doesn’t want to participate in one….This would mean not being able to take money from special interest groups. It is very sad that she continues to dismiss everything others are saying and tells us she wants to focus on the real issues. That will be quite impossible if she is elected because someone else will be calling the shots….they will be setting priorities and that is what pay to play is about.
She now says she will keep the democracy fund going…..what? just not participate?
Her rhetoric and complete denial is actually scary.
I haven’t really heard her offer up any real plans to get this city back on track. When she was asked about the budget she stated she hadn’t read it yet, so she cannot comment. When she went into the Newhall community she was escorted by a police officer and complained that she didn’t realize how bad things were.
When she held a press conference in front of a fire house and lied about Justin Elicker’s plan for the East Shore….she was perfectly comfortable lying and was completely comfortable having an assistant chief, Pat Eagan, stand with her in full uniform and participate in a political press conference…..which she does know is absolutely wrong and unethical. Oh and by the way Pat Eagan, we the taxpayers pay your salary and pay for those uniforms…. so if you are going to participate in any political forum you need to attend it dressed in your own street clothes and not on the taxpayers dime.
You know when I committed to Justin Elicker I didn’t know Harp was going to throw her hat in the ring. When she did so I thought how I might have wanted to support her. But over and over again she has proven to me that I made the absolute right choice by staying with Elicker and supporting him.

posted by: FacChec on September 16, 2013  5:34pm

Again, I am having a difficult time rationalizing NHI reporting this story for the second time in a week without citing a violation of Ct state campaign finance laws.

CT Orthopedic, had been contracted with the city since 2001 and have been contributing to the Destefano campaign since that time, irrespective of the deficit in the workers compensation line item of the budget, which ended the fiscal year June 30,2013 with a deficit of only $9,654. Hardly an amount The city should be calling out-of-control workers compensation costs.

Nevertheless, after negotiations with DeStefano administration officials the company was allowed back in on the plan with new conditions, including one barring the doctor Dr.Patrick Ruwe, who admitted to improper handling of a workers’ compensation case. 

On July 26,2013 Ruwe and eight other doctors, sinced cleared by the city, contributed $1000 individually, which the NHI calls Bundling.
These same persons have been contributing to the destefano campaign for years.

So what!

If individuals wish to contribute to a political campaign up to $1000 it is perfectly legal.If anything this article will ensure that COS will have to compete for service contracts under the Harp administration. 

Elicker, marching and signalling that he plans to press the money-in-politics issue that resonates with his base, will not get it done.

That’s a FAC.

Elicker would be better served bringing in more money from contributors wherever they may exist into his own campaign, now that he is not bound by the Democracy fund.
He will of course have to explain to his backers that this is the only way to logically remain competitive. That’s another FAC.

posted by: mstratton on September 16, 2013  5:34pm

I see a new group emerging here “Independents for Elicker”. From what I see most New Haven independents believe that our political system is in trouble because there is too much influence peddling and money in politics. This year—because of the democracy fund and a very principled candidate—these independents finally have a chance to pick the mayor who believes what they believe. With only 1500 votes separating Harp from Elicker-Fernandez voters in the primary, all it takes is for a small percentage of the city’s 18000 independent voters to stand up for their beliefs and their city. If people declare there independence at the polls, Elicker and New Haven wins. Isn’t it about time to give clean honest government a chance?

posted by: citoyen on September 16, 2013  5:38pm

Alternate headline:

“Toni Harp says we need to ‘make small [budgetary] changes to get our house in order.”

Small, she says.

Next question: if not the Democracy Fund, is she still going to get rid of the Livable City Initiative?

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 16, 2013  5:42pm

Wait- what…did she try to get out of what she said about the democracy fund??  Make up your mind lady! Harp said negative campaigning..is her team not the team that indirectly accused Kermit team of breaking her window! Please, is her team not the team that flat out lied about the firehouse? This is the women who said she was shutting LCI down. (the only that keeps hard areas safer from SLUMLORDS)? Is she the one saying to people that she is going to do things…which she does not have the money to do…so they will not get done.

I can go on…but what I really have to say is YOU TELL THEM JUSTIN!!!! GIVE BACK THE MONEY!!! I wonder what programs the money that those doctors robbed from the city could of paid for… are you harp supporters understanding yet??? the list of suburban whos whos are the ones that will get sweet deals like this and anything you were promised….is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! WAKE UP!


posted by: Noteworthy on September 16, 2013  9:31pm

Alex Notes:

1. You’re wrong. The legislature trashed campaign finance reform. It didn’t just loosen things up a bit. The idea that we needed to open the door for more money in a fake concern over Citizens United is bogus. The money that was levered against certain Dems was not that much and it didn’t work.

2. You can reach the details here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/senate_punches_back_at_citizens_united/

3. Every newspaper trashed this move.

FacCheck Notes:

1. Just because something is legal does not make it right. The legislature allows all kinds of things that in a normal corporate world would never be allowed but in its twisted world, is just fine.

2. Toni Harp has given lots of lip service, like DeStefano, like Looney - all claiming to support clean elections and wanting to get money out of politics and have people elected on the strength of their ideas and ideals. But alas, their strength of belief only exists as long as they face no real challenge. When they do, they default to what they know - sell the office, get the money, try to swamp the competition. It’s sad really, the lack of integrity to one’s alleged beliefs.

posted by: alex on September 16, 2013  10:11pm

Respectfully, Noteworthy, nothing in that article contradicts what I said. I did note that it had some provisions that weakened the campaign finance system, such as:

—lifting spending limitations on state party committees, leadership PACs, and some other PACs
—letting groups raise and contribute more money for candidates
—allowing individuals to make greater contributions to state parties and allowing state parties to make greater contributions to candidates
—allowing PACs and state parties to support their candidates with negative ads

These are the provisions listed in the article you linked. Some of those things were already allowed and the bill simply raised the thresholds and limits. There was another bad provision in the bill as well that weakened the definition of “coordination” related to independent expenditures—it’s not mentioned in the CTNewsJunkie article but was probably the worst part.

But it did not destroy the public financing system. In fact, by making it possible for state parties to respond to unaccountable independent expenditures that are exempt from limitations because of Citizens United, it may have made it more likely that candidates take public financing in the next election. For example, publicly-financed candidates facing a deluge of independent expenditures right before the election can now appeal to the state party for help.

Does that strengthen the power of the state party? Yes. And that’s not necessarily good, I’ll grant you. But it may be better than giving that power to completely unaccountable Super PACs.

In addition, the bill actually strengthened some disclosure and disclaimer requirements for independent expenditure advertisements run by Super PACs.

To be sure, many newspapers condemned the legislation. But some of the criticism was leveled at how the bill was passed (in the middle of the night without a significant debate) rather than the substance of the legislation’s provisions. Overall it was not *all* bad.

posted by: LoveNH on September 16, 2013  10:34pm

This reporting is complemented by the Huffington Post story on the banner to the left.  Anyone interested in actual data on Senator Harp and the future of corruption that a Harp victory would portend should check out that story as well.  Independents for Elicker! Democrats for Elicker! Republicans for Elicker!  CITIZENS for Elicker! If you care about a well-run and clean city government, the choice is clear.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on September 17, 2013  12:20am

It would be my suggestion to the Harp campaign, (not that they need it) to not even dignify stupidity. 

I guess it’s safe to say that The Elicker Experiment is getting very lonely without the teat of the Democracy Fund.

Hey Elicker, are you going to give Stratton his money back?

Instead of crying over Toni’s endorsements, it would be my suggestion that you finish learning how to get to Dixwell Ave. with your GPS.  In case you need a little help, it runs parallel to Whalley Ave.

The Elicker Experiment has nothing to offer the voters outside of East Rock.  Any coherent person can plainly see that his campaign is unraveling fast.

Does Elicker really believe his 999 Herman Cain style campaign slogan (75 ideas) is convincing to intelligent minded voters?  I think not!

There are real issues that have saturated the City of New Haven…and the idea that voters are willing to participate in a ponzi scheme by installing Elicker as mayor, is absurd.

Over the years, Senator Harp has developed genuine relationships all across the state, which will only bode well for the cities interest. 

New Haven can’t afford to take a chance with The Elicker Experiment.

posted by: nh104 on September 17, 2013  1:25am

So CT Ortho received a contract for services from the city starting in 2001 bringing them up to 800K per year. That same year they started donating to Johnny’s campaign fund. After a bit of a hiccup with the city, say sorry,and now that they are allowed to play again they start donating to Ms. Harps campaign. How could anyone deny that the money is and has been nothing short of a kickback and an attempt at self preservation? What’s $9000 when there is $800k on the line. If the city didn’t take them back I doubt CT Ortho would have given a dime to Ms. Harps campaign.

Lets get into the “She also said that the surgeons’ contract is not technically with the city, but with an outside vendor, CIRMA (the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency).” Is she actually trying to infer that because the city actually pays premiums to CIRMA and not directly to CT Ortho that the money CT Ortho gave is really just because they like her and believe in what she stands for? Trying to hype up the “middle man” aspect doesn’t change what their generosity is really about.

posted by: accountability on September 17, 2013  7:30am

The Elicker hypocrisy is growing like Jack’s beanstalk.

I would encourage everyone to head over to HuffPost to read Ben Berkowitz’s piece on the municipal contractor donations to mayoral candidates.

Not for the content - it’s a rehash of the content in this story - but to watch the Elicker machine’s hypocrisy in full bloom.

In the comments, our very own cedarhillresident!, writing under her own name, pretends to be encountering this shocking information for the first time, says how “sad” it is that contractors are corrupting elections, and then asks, oh-so-innocently “do we have a place to donate to these good guys setting examples for the rest of the country?”

Then someone named TinTurnip [anonymous, is that you, brother?] says of course! and dumps a link to Justin’s fundraising site into the comment section.

And so it begins. Bereft of the tax money he took under false pretenses, boxed in by his claims to grassroots purity based on the location of his donors, Justin has opened a deniable [not very] national fundraising operation among progressive networks.

Deceit. Multiple identities, the manipulation of the symbols of democracy while doing the opposite and breathtaking hypocrisy. What a clean campaign.

But then again what should we expect? Justin wants this campaign to be about character. He’s a trained foreign service officer. And what else has US foreign policy been about for 20 years if not the use of deceit, manipulation and false piety to advance the interests of wealthy Americans?

Clearly, Justin is an apt pupil.

As for cedarhillresident! and all the Justinians, I hope we’ve read your last comment about honesty or how Justin is Mr. Grassroots because his contributions come from New Haven.

Note to editors - not outing anyone here, cedarhillresident! has identified herself in previous comments.

posted by: HewNaven on September 17, 2013  8:35am

Instead of crying over Toni’s endorsements, it would be my suggestion that
you finish learning how to get to Dixwell Ave. with your GPS. In case you
need a little help, it runs parallel to Whalley Ave.

Um…Brian…Dixwell is most definitely not PARALLEL to Whalley. Did I miss something Harp said about being so close to Dixwell? I thought she lived in a rich part of town, near the Yale Gold Course.

posted by: Megan on September 17, 2013  10:19am

If all of Justin Elicker’s donors are white and wealthy, is he going to be the mayor of the white and wealthy?


I’m not defending Harp’s fundraising, but I don’t believe that Elicker’s hands are “clean” simply because he participated in the Democracy Fund. Every politician represents certain interests, and it’s evident that Elicker represents a particular race and class.

And then there’s that war criminal who contributed to Elicker’s campaign. Charles Hill, forced to resign from the Reagan administration for trying to cover up the Iran-contra affair, teacher of future war criminals at Yale. Will Elicker give back Charlie Hill’s donation?

posted by: accountability on September 17, 2013  11:26am




Awfully quiet here. Cedarhillresident, Ben Berkowitz, must be a bit difficult to type with your hands caught in the national progressive fundraising cookie jar.

Is Justin going to come on the NHI and disavow your national fundraising ruse? Or has he decided that outside New haven contributions are okay now?

And who is the mysterious TinTurnip? Anonymous, do tell? Yes? No?

posted by: robn on September 17, 2013  11:39am


According to election filings, Harp’s avg donation size is $382 and Elicker’s avg donation size is $117. So what leads you to the conclusion that Elicker’s donors are wealthy, much less white?

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 17, 2013  11:46am

Rather than attack individuals, I’d like to point out that Mr. Elicker’s strategy did not work in the primary.  I’m very glad to see him sticking with contributions rather than issues that impact how a City is run on a daily basis.  This argument has been tested and vetted by the democrats in the primary, and the general electorate in the 2011 election.

It is fairly obvious to most voters that campaign contributions are a necessary evil to the democratic process.  I’ll be interested to see whether he continues this trend or drops it for one that may yield more fruit with the general electorate than yielding to the pressure of his base, which he already has the support of.

posted by: TheMadcap on September 17, 2013  11:46am

People are missing the larger point here. Obviously there’s no legal problem here and all campaigns may wind up with some conflict of interests down the line. But in an election in a city where our city’s perception of pay to play has been a recurring issue, when a group that had previously been donating to the DeStefano campaign loses their large city contract and the next day donates a huge bundle to the frontrunner in the mayoral race, it raises some serious questions on whether this is the epitome of the pay to play perception of New Haven.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 17, 2013  11:55am

Sorry accountability I am at work and can only go online when I have a free moment.
I have a free moment.
If the professor is a war criminal than I would agree with giving it back. But I could only find facts that he is a professor and was a diplomat and some kind of a UN guy…when regan was prez.

But some peoples reasoning is,  if you worked for the government under Bush or Regan than you are a bad person. Because no democrat’s work for the government when a republican is elected because they all quit there jobs.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 17, 2013  11:57am

And Ben just post data…not sure how he got dragged into this.

posted by: anonymous on September 17, 2013  12:33pm

Megan, those maps were based on just one paperwork filing, if I recall correctly. If you actually add up all the filings, Elicker had approximately three times more donations from among City of New Haven residents (about 1,150) than Harp did (about 400) - and he beat out Harp in almost every neighborhood of the city, not just East Rock. 

Separate from that, consider some of the total numbers of donations in some neighborhoods - I think Harp had a total of 4 from Dixwell, and a total of 11 from Newhallville. That’s not exactly significant enough to say that Harp has the support of the 10,000+ people who live in Dixwell and Newhallville, even though it might or might not be a couple more than Elicker had from those areas.

posted by: accountability on September 17, 2013  1:06pm

robn. Please. Treat us like adults.

Mike Stratton: $370
Wife: $370
Kid: $370
Partner: $370
Partner’s wife: $370

Avg contribution? $370. Actual bundled contribution from Stratton Faxon? $1,850. At least. Haven’t even bothered to look for associates.

Justin has capped his contributions, that keeps the average down. But when you’re dealing with relatively wealthy contributors, there’s always a way to look clean and vacuum up the cash at the same time. Stop pretending. Enough false piety.

And the conclusion about the race and class of his donors was made clear by Tom’s maps.

posted by: Megan on September 17, 2013  1:17pm

East Rock: 81% white
East Rock median family income: $86,250 (compared to median family income for New Haven: $35,950)

2009 census data

My point is that running with the Democracy Fund doesn’t necessarily mean that your funders represent the average city resident. It’s not that simple.

posted by: Scot on September 17, 2013  1:49pm

@Megan, ER doesn’t support Elicker because they expect anything in return. They support him because they’ve seen his hard work first hand because he’s been their alderman for 4 years. They see him as someone who is honest and hard-working.

Most people may know who their own alderperson is, but they can’t tell you much about the alders from other wards.
The other neighborhoods haven’t had as much time to get to know him yet. Not because he’s avoiding them as Brian Jenkins would like you to believe, but because it takes time and money to get out and canvass. 

Harp’s money will allow her to bombard every neighborhood in the city with canvassers and mailings.

posted by: TheMadcap on September 17, 2013  1:52pm


That is true, however, the DF does mean your funders can only represent actual people, and that donation limits help mitigate the playing field by a small margin.

posted by: robn on September 17, 2013  1:56pm


Maybe you can have your desert after you’ve eaten your vegetables.

On wealth:
Toni Harps average donation is much larger than Justin’s. It’s as simple as that; her donors have more disposable income. This deflates your accusations that Elicker is biased toward wealthy elite.

On race:
Since Toni Harp gathered more than 80% of her donations from out-of-town, and since the suburbs of New Haven are primarily white, you have no basis for implying that Elicker’s campaign is racist.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 17, 2013  2:19pm

and reminder what were are all talking about

posted by: robn on September 17, 2013  3:07pm

What continues to astound me Harp’s lack of shame, or rather the lack of humility. It would have been quite easy for Harp to return the donations and say she doesn’t want the support of crooked businesses, but instead we get the George W Bush infallibility routine…I’m neither aware of it nor concerned with it and therefore it doesn’t exist. The Harp campaign is a truly bizarre mashup of Ellsion’s Invisible Man and the Emperor’s New Clothes. I don’t look forward to this continuing circus should Harp get elected.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 17, 2013  6:18pm


Apologies for the delay. Just getting up to speed on this thread.

I’m not totally sure why you mentioned me in your comment but to clarify I am totally against any outside contributions for local campaigns. I would like to see a zero dollar campaign system but realize that’s more than a bit idealistic given the work that volunteers already put in to get out a candidate’s message.

It probably goes without saying but I can’t control the comments on the Huffington Post anymore than you can.  I did cross-post on my blog where I do control the comments but there has not been any candidate ra-ra there.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 17, 2013  6:29pm

Thanks for the support Cedar Hill.

“And Ben just post data…not sure how he got dragged into this.” < -  I giggled at this thinking of how a similar defense might have been invoked by Ms. Manning’s attorney’s a few weeks ago.

posted by: FrontStreet on September 17, 2013  8:42pm

Why Elicker is my man.

Bought house in fair haven.  Then realized that quality of life being ruined by crazy people of dirtbikes.

Posted on clickfix, called the police line, began to understand the gravity of the situation.

Wrote letter to every alderperson in New Haven asking for action.

Only one response.  Elicker.  Who organized a series of meetings with the community, with the police, with city leaders. 

Result: legislation passed in Hartford raising amount of money allowed to charge individuals to re-claim confiscated dirtbikes.  Major NHPD effort to arrest and prosecute members of the bike gang in fair haven.  Guess what, very few dirtbikes on Front Street this summer.  Kids are safe, elderly are happy.  City is more livable, I may just stick around New Haven.

So, if Elicker is beholden to New Haven residents who contribute to help them improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods, I’m all for it.  He has some unique skills in consensus building and policy formulation.  Honestly, he’s just plain way smarter than Harp (I worked in Homeless Health at Hill Health for several years. Toni’s nice, but not nearly as quick as Justin.)

posted by: DrHunterSThompson on September 17, 2013  10:18pm

Voters always get what they deserve.


posted by: thesixteenwords on September 18, 2013  12:58am

@Brian Jenkins-

So on August 25, if I am not mistaken, you were paid $2,000 by the Harp campaign. Nice to see they get their money’s worth in Indy comments.

posted by: True that on September 18, 2013  5:00am

It is important to note here that those who support Harp are utterly incapable of admitting that taking money from this who are and doing business with city government gives the appearance of pay for play.  Because their candidate has so many ethical challenges (tax delinquent, questions about her residency, Keno, Renaissance Management, bundles from businesses, “elect me I’m a woman” philosophy, and her membership in the Know Nothing Party when these issues are raised) they routinely deflect by talking about others instead of acknowledging these concerns.  The voters, unfortunately, engage in juror nullification in the face of overwhelming evidence indicating her penchant business as usual.  This truly is a parallel political universe we live in.  The truth is laid bare before us:  Toni Harp represents everything we need to get away from.Either questions are raised about serious issues involving her, she either says, “I don’t know” or claims that she is being bullied. I did not vote for Elicker in the Primary, but I will do so in the General Election.  We cannot afford more DeStefano, and that is what Harp represents.

posted by: Gener on September 18, 2013  7:51am

Just stop dwelling on the details. Obviously, Harps donors are mostly poor and black because Harp herself is black! Naturally, Harp has support of the black community.
On the other hand, Elicker’s donors are all white, which makes his campaign quite racist!
In conclusion, Elicker has no business running this town, because he’s only representing the wealthy whites of East Rock, whereas all of Harps contributions came from the poor black community. Ignore the details, and it is a lot easier to swallow.

posted by: FranklyShankly on September 18, 2013  8:41am

The democracy fund is vital to future campaigns and allows everyone to have a fair shot. And speaking of racist campaigns when I went to vote at my primary,Harp supporters and pollsters were touting “Vote Harp, a Strong, Black Woman”.  Race nor sex should be held as reason to vote for any candidate.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 18, 2013  1:32pm

posted by: Gener on September 18, 2013 7:51am

Just stop dwelling on the details. Obviously, Harps donors are mostly poor and black because Harp herself is black! Naturally, Harp has support of the black community.

Give me a break.

How Ghetto Politics Has Outlived the Ghetto, and Still Holds All Of Us Back

Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:20 — Bruce A. Dixon

The class of cultural, business and political hacks who pass themselves off as “black leaders.The failure of ghetto politics, and the black misleadership class that practices it, is the failure to acknowledge the existence of economic class within the African American community, and to stand up for the class interests of most blacks. It’s time for a completely new black politics.


posted by: HhE on September 18, 2013  2:49pm

Threefifths, did you take Gener’s meaning.  While not overly obvious, I think Gener was using iorny.