Perez’s Patronage Payback in Hartford DTC

HARTFORD – The conviction of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez on corruption charges brings attention to the practice of trading political support for government jobs.

A Yankee Institute review of members of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee reveals that 32 of the Committee’s 69 members (46 percent) have government jobs or draw taxpayer-funded pensions.
The Yankee Institute conducted the study utilizing its database of government spending and government jobs. The site has recently been expanded to include municipal payrolls for 18 Connecticut cities and towns, including Hartford.

“Hartford is a modern Tammany Hall, where the price of political support is jobs for oneself or for family members. Patronage on this scale is a throwback to the 19th century, when Mark Twain strolled the streets of Hartford during the Gilded Age. Political support becomes a question of, ‘What’s in it for me?’ and the public interest suffers,” said Fergus Cullen, executive director of the Yankee Institute.

Yankee thought to check the DTC members for public employment after reading a Manchester Journal Inquirer column by Chris Powell on Tuesday. Powell referenced a 2007 Connecticut Post study, written around the time of former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim’s conviction on corruption charges, showing 80 percent of members of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee either worked for the City of Bridgeport or had a close relative who did.

Of the 69 Hartford DTC members identified from a list on the Hartford Registrars of Voters website, 32 are public employees working for the City of Hartford or the State of Connecticut, or receive a public pension, or derive income from a combination of the three:

• 15 work for the City of Hartford
• 12 work for the State of Connecticut
• 6 work for the General Assembly
• 5 receive a public pension
• 2 receive more than one public pension

More members of the DTC are likely to have close relatives who are on the public payroll, though Yankee was not able to determine which ones with certainty. A glance at the remaining portion of the Democratic Town Committee’s membership shows many surnames that are familiar to observers of state and local government.
In contrast, 4 of the 23 members of the Hartford Republican Town Committee appear to have government jobs.

“Patronage isn’t a partisan phenomenon, but it does seem to be a bigger problem in larger cities than it is in small towns or suburban communities,” Cullen said.

The spreadsheets listing the members of the town committees and their public employment are here:
Hartford Democratic Town Committee:

Hartford Republican Town Committee:

The Connecticut Post story from 2007 is posted here:

Chris Powell’s Journal Inquirer column is posted here:

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