There has been plenty of discussion this week about the public financing of campaigns, culminating in a special session today. The Hartford Courant’s Daniela Altimari has a great write up on what happened at the Capitol and some fiery comments from Senate Minority Leader John McKinney. You gotta love Daniela’s headline:
Some people I’ve spoken to this week don’t feel wealthy candidates should turn to taxpayers to pay for campaign ads, especially negative ones. Republican Lt. Governor Michael Fedele has unleashed some new negative ads this week aimed at Tom Foley, ads, that you, the taxpayer, paid for. Those ads on commercial television debuted simultaneously with some amateur video on youtube of Fedele with his Ferrari. You can read about it and see it on Kevin Rennie’s blog:
To be fair, Democrat Dan Malloy is also taking public financing and is also using taxpayer money for negative ads. Foley and Ned Lamont are also running negative ads, but the taxpayers aren’t getting the bill.
I was asked by a viewer how a man who drives a $200,000 car can qualify for public financing. Trinity College professor Rennie Fulco, that public financing is not based on need, although the purpose of it is give other politicians who are not wealthy, a chance to compete against wealthy ones.
Which brings us back to the Ferrari. It was a big blunder for a gubernatorial candidate to bring that car to the Capitol during a recession and period of record unemployment and foreclosures. No one argues that.
Fedele has every right to own that car. The son of a blue collar immigrant from Italy, Fedele earned every penny he has the hard way. He is an American success story, and an expensive Italian sports car is one of the fruits of his labor.
Cars and politicians are a funny mix. Vehicles have to be carefully chosen so they don’t negatively impact a politician’s image. In the 1990s, then Hartford Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry had a Lincoln as her official city vehicle that she drove through one of the nation’s poorest cities. It made her look out of touch. There are some politicians who drive cars made in Japan. When a local company wants to ship jobs overseas, how can that person condemn that business from the seat of a car made by foreign workers overseas?
Some are wondering how can a politician who drives a Ferrari can ask for a handout from the taxpayers.
I asked Fedele’s running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton about it. His response? “Dan Malloy took public financing and he is just as wealthy as Fedele.”
Tune in this Sunday at 11 AM for Face the State.