Super-PAC Aids Connecticut Democrat by Attacking Two Rivals

Photograph by Jessica Hill/AP Photo

Connecticut House Speaker and Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, Chris Donovan, right, during special session at the Capitol in Hartford, Conn.

A super-political action committee attacking two Democrats running for a U.S. House seat in Connecticut is funded by early donors to a third Democrat seeking the same seat.

The super-PAC, New Directions for America, questions state House Speaker Chris Donovan’s ethics and criticizes former state Representative Elizabeth Esty’s voting record in a television ad that began running today in Hartford, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

The intended beneficiary is Dan Roberti, a public affairs consultant who’s also seeking the 5th District seat in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary. The super-PAC received $95,000 through June from five individuals or companies who are also funding Roberti’s campaign, Federal Election Commission records show.

George J. Tsunis, the chief executive officer of Chartwell Hotels, gave $50,000 to New Directions for America in two installments in May and June. He and his wife Olga donated $15,000 to Roberti’s campaign in March 2011.

Morris B. Pearl, a managing director at the New York-based investment management firm Blackrock Inc., gave $20,000 to the PAC in May and $5,000 to Roberti’s campaign in March 2011.

Two real estate companies, The Hemmerdinger Corporation and ATCO Properties and Management Inc., each gave $10,000 to the super-PAC last month. The president of both companies, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, donated $15,000 to Roberti’s campaign along with his wife.

Philanthropist David Bohnett gave $5,000 to the super-PAC a few weeks after he gave $1,000 to Roberti’s campaign.

New Directions for America is spending $131,632 to air the ad, it said in an FEC filing today that also indicates it’s received at least $36,632 in donations since the end of June.

New Directions for America will back “qualified and electable” Democrats and “aid those candidates who have the strongest chance of defeating their Republican competition,” the super-PAC says on its website. The super-PAC organized in April, according to FEC records that list a New York post-office box as the address.

Super-PACs are permitted to raise donations in unlimited funds, unlike candidate committees limited to raising $2,500 for the primary election and another $2,500 for the general election. In Connecticut, the limit is $7,500 because the state election process includes a nominating convention that’s considered a separate election.

Roberti, Donovan and Esty join four Republicans in seeking Connecticut’s 5th District, which takes in Danbury, most of Waterbury and other territory in western Connecticut. Democratic Representative Chris Murphy is running for the Senate rather than seeking re-election.

What do you think about this article? Comment below!