July 11, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez's campaign for re-election has amassed a hefty treasury, out-raising in dollars his nearest opponent by more than 4-to-1.
In total, the Perez campaign has netted $371,000 since it first started raising money in January. The next closest of his challengers, state Rep. Art Feltman, raised a total of $83,000 in the same period.
"I am very pleased by this continued wide spectrum of support," Perez said in a statement. "I am running for re-election to finish the job we all started together six years ago and to continue to build on the progress we have made as a city during that time."
According to fundraising totals for the past quarter, which were released Tuesday, Perez's financial support often extended far beyond Hartford.
Of the more than 470 individual contributions he received from April to June, only 82, or about 17 percent, of the donors live in Hartford. Most of the rest hail from the city's wealthier suburbs - West Hartford, Simsbury, Glastonbury, Newington, Rocky Hill and beyond.
Perez held several fundraisers in the city, but also had fundraisers in New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston, raising thousands from out-of-state contributors.
And many of his largest contributions came from people who do business in the city - bankers, developers, lobbyists, architects, contractors, lawyers and insurance executives - often giving the maximum allowed by law, $1,000.
All the mayoral campaigns filed finance reports Tuesday, the documents offering a narrow but telling glimpse of how the field of candidates has started to separate. Three candidates - Perez, Feltman and former Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews - are far ahead of the pack in fundraising. But Perez maintains a Secretariat-like lead on his two closest challengers.
That those who work in Hartford would feel invested in the city and want to support Perez should not surprise anyone, said Kenny Curran, the mayor's campaign manager.
"As Hartford goes, so does the region," Curran said. "In our report, there are a lot of stakeholders in the city and in the region who are happy with the way the mayor has done so far and want to see him continue along."
Both Feltman and Mathews said the business community's support of Perez can also be explained, in part, by its fear of possible retaliation - concern over losing city contracts or facing extra-vigilant city inspectors.
"Many businesses from Hartford are afraid of retaliation if they don't give," Feltman said. "At least that is what they are telling me. We were turned down by three landlords when we looked for a headquarters because they were afraid of Perez."
Curran described that view as "cynical," and said none of Perez's contributions were made because people were frightened. "Nothing could be more ridiculous," he said.
Curran then pointed to both Feltman's and Mathews' personal contributions to their own campaigns, saying that by giving to themselves, their financing is far less visible to the public.
"When someone makes a large personal contribution, they are not very transparent," Curran said. "It brings up the question, where does that money come from?"
Feltman raised about $50,000 from April to June, most of that from his $30,000 gift to the campaign. The rest came from individual contributors, many of whom also live outside the city.
Mathews raised just under $13,000 during the same period - $6,750 of his own money and the rest from individuals. Mathews also gave himself $37,000 during the last filing period, bringing the total he has contributed to his own campaign to $43,750, or about 75 percent of what his campaign has raised in total.
Mathews said Curran's comment was "absurd."
"Many of us who are running for office are forced to make personal contributions because Eddie has a reputation for punishing people who are perceived to be against him," he said. "Eddie has basically, in my opinion, put the city up for sale. If you want contracts, if you want city services, if you don't make a contribution to Eddie's campaign, he will punish you. I have heard that from people all over the city."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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