“These allegations are despicable.” 

“Allegations like this not only damage a campaign or a candidate, they also undermine citizens’ belief in their government’s ability to carry out its responsibilities.”  This was Gov. Dannel Malloy talking in response to news of the arrest on federal charges of Robert Braddock Jr., campaign finance director for Democrat Chris Donovan, candidate for Congress from the state’s 5th District.

Braddock is accused of conspiring to conceal the identity of campaign donors. It is a federal crime to arrange for one to donate money to a candidate in the name of another person. The time-honored scheme is used to evade laws limiting the amount an individual may donate to a candidate or to conceal the identity of a donor who does not want to be on record as a donor.

Yet, given the Malloy administration’s shenanigans respecting its controversial proposal to hand over $300,000 taxpayer to leaders of the Communist Party USA so they can (purportedly) renovate their New Haven headquarters, Malloy sounds more like Casablanca‘s Captain Renault (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”). The proposed grant stinks to high heaven, and not just because of the “communist” factor. 

One Democratic legislator on the state bond commission conceded that the state could not lawfully fund a building owned or used by the Democratic Party, the GOP or the Tea Party for partisan political activity. When asked how the Communist Party could possibly be exempt from that standard, she had no answer, and instead said she was unaware of the building’s ties to a political party. There’s a reason for that, and it is New Haven State Sen. Toni Harp, the mover behind the grant.

In a letter requesting the funds, Harp offered to bond officials a greatly detailed description of the building and its alleged uses, but dishonestly omitted any mention of or information regarding its ownership by CP officials and use for partisan political activity. What a scam.

Things started to stir when one Mary Plaskonka e-mailed state officials questioning the legality of the grant. For 40 years, Plaskonka was in charge of bond grants for the Department of Social Services. Media scrutiny followed. Both the Journal Inquirer of Manchester and the Waterbury Republican-American have since published scathing condemnations of the giveaway. State Sen. Andrew Roraback, a bond commission member, has now denounced it. But he is a Republican and in the minority.

State officials have since been provided numerous documents which show conclusively that the building is the HQ of the Communist Party, with party activities being a central use of the building. Communist Party chief Joelle Fishman’s office is in there. The building is also the base for the People’s World, which is the newspaper of the Communist Party USA. (Fishman writes for that propaganda organ).

The Yale Daily News ran two stories on Fishman, one aptly headlined “Profile of a Communist.” The other reported on Fishman’s holding of a “Communist Party rally” at the People’s Center. It noted her role as chair of the CP’s state chapter, that her office is in the building, and further, that Fishman uses the building for “fundraisers” for the Communist Party USA. She also writes for, publishes, and circulates the party’s newspaper out of there. What more do you need to establish this fraud upon the state’s taxpayers?

Many documents and other evidence establishing these facts are now in the hands of state officials who can no longer feign ignorance about the building and Fishman. Harp, upset at the attention, slurs her critics with pathetic charges of “red-baiting” and “McCarthyism,” notably clipping the terms from Fishman herself who is circulating the same propaganda. What a cheap and unintelligent defense that is. For one thing, Harp displays her ignorance of history. Sen. Joe McCarthy’s offense was using “guilt by association” to unfairly tag people as communists. Fishman makes no bones about what she is. More importantly, Harp would howl if state money were given to Tea Party leaders to buy or renovate an old building. 

Harp e-mailed to me Fishman’s propaganda statement regarding the building. It likewise omits all mention of the CP and indeed omits mention of Fishman herself. I replied to Harp with a single question:  “Who owns the building”?  Harp expectedly ran the other way and did not answer. 


With sunlight now on them, a flurry of e-mails circulated among state officials. Since the governor controls the bond commission’s agenda, Malloy’s aides scrambled to concoct an official line. They chose a defense that is patently absurd. The state, they say with a straight face, should not consider the “political affiliation” of a building’s owners. Plus, Fishman allows (left-wing) “community groups” to meet there. Please.

What’s next, a taxpayer grant to renovate an Al-Qaeda headquarters because it has a soup kitchen? Moreover, that deeply unconvincing argument does not square with their acknowledgment that grants to a GOP or other party-owned or controlled building are impermissible.

One e-mail really catches the eye. In it, Steven Kitowicz, a “principal budget specialist,” advises that an inquiry revealed that the building is indeed controlled by Communist Party leaders. He suggests a possible solution to the “concern” over the grant: “We pass [the money] through the city of New Haven on behalf of the organization.” Translation: Launder the money by flushing it through Democratic crony Mayor John DeStefano, who would then turn over the money to Fishman.

Does Governor Malloy think this is “despicable”? That it undermines our confidence in “the government’s ability to carry out its responsibilities”?  We’ll see.

Karen Lee Torre, a New Haven trial lawyer, litigates civil rights cases in the federal courts. Her e-mail address is thimbleislands@att.net.