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Friday, November 16 Politics

Dan Haar: Big-name biz backers — Immelt for Stefanowski, Blavatnik in the Lamont camp

Bob Stefanowski may hope to rebuild Connecticut, but the latest campaign finance report in his quest for the governor’s seat shows he’s brought in cash from the man who did more to tear down the state than just about anyone.

That would be Jeffrey Immelt, former CEO of the formerly Fairfield-based General Electric Co. Immelt gave Stefanowski $3,500, the maximum allowed under state law.

Immelt, now a partner in a venture capital firm, lives in Boston, famously — the city where he moved the GE headquarters in early 2016 after a very public spat with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy over taxes. A few months later, the GE board showed Immelt the early retirement door amid a death spiral for the once-mighty conglomerate.

He’s just one of a few old GE bosses on Stefanowski’s contributor list, filed Tuesday. The connection is the Republican candidate’s tenure as a GE finance executive from 1994 to 2007.

Others include Larry Bossidy, of Ridgefield, who rose to vice chairman before he left in 1991 to head AlliedSignal and then Honeywell after those two companies merged. Bossidy chipped in $3,500. John and Joann Myers, of Fairfield, each wrote checks for $3,500; he headed GE Asset Management Inc. until 2006, according to Bloomberg, which would have put him in close contact with Stefanowski, a Madison resident.

Among the three wealthy, self-funding candidates running for governor, Democrat Ned Lamont snagged a $3,500 chit from the richest contributor, Len Blavatnik, whose wife, Emily, matched that total.

Blavatnik, worth more than $20 billion, according to Forbes, was born in Ukraine, raised in Moscow and emigrated to the United States in 1978.

The New Yorker, who also lives in the United Kingdom and was knighted, is considered one of the greatest dealmakers of all time. His Access Industries made billions in Russian oil and a global chemicals company, and owns Warner Music, big stakes in a German internet company and the Tory Burch fashion label.

A look at the contributor lists of the three multimillionaire candidates — Stefanowski, Lamont and Republican David Stemerman — shows a decent but not overwhelming list of business luminaries from Connecticut and the rest of the world. It’s muted by the fact that none of these three needs to raise a lot compared with what they’re laying out from their own wealth.

Other candidates are using the state’s public campaign financing program and are limited to $100 contributions after they declare for governor. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and Oz Griebel, who’s running as an independent, are neither self-funding gazillionaires nor using public financing.

Stefanowski appears to harbor the most impressive list of business names — but his campaign racked up $1.75 million in unpaid expenses as of June 30, some of that his own spending due for reimbursement. And he had just $646,155 on hand as of June 30, so he’ll need to refill those coffers ASAP.

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Robert Scinto, the Fairfield County developer, and his wife, Barbara, each gave Stefanowski $3,500. Scinto, of Fairfield, was sentenced to six months in federal prison in 2011 for lying to investigators about gifts to Shelton municipal officials. He was tied in court records to Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who ran for governor this year — but Lauretti’s campaign finance report shows no offering from Scinto.

Speaking of Shelton, William Raveis, head of a statewide real estate brokerage that carries his name, also penned a check for $3,500 to Stefanowski, along with Candace Raveis.

Then there’s Robert Dilenschneider, the Darien resident whose New York PR firm, The Dilenschneider Group, guides giant companies as the pre-eminent crisis management firm. There’s no evidence he’s working for the Stefanowski campaign other than through his $3,500 contribution. Stefanowski also hauled in $3,500 from self-made Greek immigrant John Catsimatidis, whose Red Apple Group includes Gristedes and Red Apple supermarkets, Kwik Fill gasoline stations and oil refining operations.

Stefanowski may have GE, but Stemerman has intel on GE, in the form of Steven Winoker, of Greenwich, a prominent financial analyst and former United Technologies Corp. executive who follows those industrial companies — good for $3,500 in Stemerman’s camp.

Stemerman also lured $3,500 from Robert Patricelli, a retired health care executive and philanthropist who was co-chairman of the state Commission on Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Growth. That panel, which convened last fall sparked by conversations Patricelli started, issued a detailed report in March on how Connecticut can escape the hot soup we’re in.

Stemerman also has a very detailed economic plan and like most of the candidates’ recovery ideas, it includes elements of the commission’s report.

The numbers

Looking at the finance numbers — yeah, why not, even though these guys are carrying most of the freight — we see that Stefanowski had raised $451,809 from outside sources, including $193,605 in the most recent, three-month reporting period, ending June 30. He’s lent or given himself $1.75 million and spent $1.6 million — including more than $800,000 on TV ads in the recent period.

Stemerman has raised $96,929 from outside contributors and $13 million from his own hedge fund fortune, most recently a $10 million loan on June 26. He had spent $3.1 million as of June 30, the end of the recent filing period, and still had $10 million on hand.

Lamont raised $189,624 from contributors, mostly in the recent quarter. He’s kicked in $815,000 so far and spent $924,016.

Like Stefanowski, he had more expenses incurred than cash on hand as of June 30. We’ll see whether Stefanowski can keep up the pace with his corporate management wealth, which is typically smaller than hedge fund wealth like Stemerman’s, or inherited and entrepreneurial wealth like Lamont’s.

The business luminaries such as Immelt and Blavatnik appear to be more friends of the candidates than backers whose money will make a difference. Stefanowski collected the $3,500 maximum from each of six executives at the same New York private equity firm, the Invus Group.

Entertainment stars? I thought we had one when I saw Nick Carter on Lamont’s roster, listed as a retired musician-songwriter from the Riverside section of Greenwich. Could that be the Backstreet Boys co-founder, who’s 38 years old?

Nope, a different singing Nick Carter, this one married to Susan J. Carter, retired CEO of Commonfund Capital, who also gave Lamont $3,500.

dhaar@hearstmediact.com

Dan Haar|Columnist and Associate Editor

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