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Former Perez Chief Of Staff Working On Schools-Related Deal

Jeff Cohen

October 20, 2010

Matt Hennessy, the longtime chief of staff to former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, left his job at the city about a year before his boss was convicted on corruption charges and resigned. Now, Hennessy is making roughly $58,000 on a deal that involves the Hartford Public Schools. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.

Hennessy was a powerful and polarizing figure in the Perez administration. He left the city last year to open his own public relations and lobbying firm -- Tremont Public Advisors.

Hennessy has had clients in casino gaming, the health industry, and politics. He advised Democratic candidate Ned Lamont on his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid.

One of Hennessy’s latest jobs is as a federal lobbyist for the parent company of WNPR – the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network. The company has entered into a deal with the Hartford Public Schools to host the senior year of its Journalism and Media Academy. The five year arrangement is set to begin in 2013. The schools will pay the network more than $660,000 a year. The network will make $250,000 a year in in-kind contributions.

But before classes can begin, the broadcaster needs to build out two floors in its Asylum Hill building. To do that, it will need $3 million. And to get some of that money, the company has hired Hennessy.

Hennessy declined an interview. According to the website OpenSecrets.org, Hennessy was registered as a federal lobbyist for only one other client as of July.

Jerry Franklin is the president and CEO of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network. He says he hired Hennessy because of their shared experience raising money together for a Hartford project called the Learning Corridor.

“And so I thought he would be perfect – because we’ve got a $3 million challenge in front of us, we’ve got about 18 months in which to raise the money, and Matt’s assignment is to find a million dollars of federal funding.”

Franklin said he doesn’t have the federal connections to bring in the money. Asked whether Hennessy had those connections, Franklin said this:

“Come back and revisit me in six months and ask me. And I’ll say yes or no. Now I say yes. But the proof is in the fundraising pudding.”

Hennessy is at least the second member of the Perez administration to advise a Hartford non-profit. The other? Perez himself. He was hired this summer as a consultant for the Connecticut Aids Resource Coalition.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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