Put simply, Jon Pelto is breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of campaign finance law. And his only options are to either shut down his company’s blog or disclose who is paying him to attack Governor Dannel P. Malloy.
The political and campaign advisor-for-hire, who masquerades as a progressive blogger, uses his company’s website, jonathanpelto.com, to raise money. He asks for donations every few months.
Now, Pelto has announced his candidacy for governor — he’s officially launched an exploratory committee after weeks or months of mulling the idea.
And, once again, he’s asking for money, this time to fund his gubernatorial campaign. But he’s not using a website specially created for the purpose. He’s not soliciting donations on pelto2014.com or peltoforCT.org or whatever.
Pelto is soliciting support on jonathanpelto.com, a website built and maintained using payments Pelto may not have to declare to elections enforcement officials.
That would make those donations illegal.
The difference between a campaign donation and a donation to a private entity is that all Pelto’s donors can be anonymous. Unlike other candidates, Pelto does not have to disclose who pays him, or how much.
The question for investigators should be, how much money did Pelto “earn” on his website or for his consulting services from people who knew he was considering a run for governor?
Or, more broadly, how much of his income-generating content was published with an eye toward weakening Malloy so Pelto could then legitimize running for governor?
According to Connecticut State Law, potential candidates have up to 10 days to register an exploratory committee after soliciting or expending campaign contributions.
Every donation received and expenditure spent during that time period is considered campaign-related once the exploratory committee paperwork is filed.
Pelto has been creating a campaign platform on his blog for some time, building support for himself as a brand and, as we know now, a gubernatorial candidate.
According to campaign finance law, that puts every undisclosed payment he’s received through his blog into question.
Ethics are not a matter of “maybe.” Pelto owes it to his readers, his opponents and the state of Connecticut he hopes to lead to be above board, beyond reproach and transparent.
So what will it be? Will Pelto disclose his funders? Or will he shut down his blog and run a legitimate campaign website?
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