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INVESTIGATION: Esty’s Campaign Has Spent Over $130K Since She Announced She’s Retiring. Why?

October 17, 2018 By Staff
INVESTIGATION: Esty’s Campaign Has Spent Over $130K Since She Announced She’s Retiring. Why?

Elizabeth Esty announced on April 2, 2018 she would not seek reelection. She's leaving Congress in January 2019. Why has her campaign spent over $130,000 since April 3?

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) announced on Monday, April 2, 2018 that she would not run for reelection to the U.S. House in 2018, after public officials called on her to resign over her alleged role in helping an abusive ex-chief of staff land a new job following his harassment of another Esty employee.

But Esty’s campaign committee, Friends of Elizabeth Esty, spent over $130,000 between April 3, 2018, the day after Esty announced her effective retirement from Congress, and September 30, 2018, the end of the last reporting period.

What did Esty spend her $133,959.18 in campaign cash on? And why is she spending six figures on a campaign that doesn’t even exist? Reclaim Connecticut took a look at her campaign finance disclosures this week to find out.

NOTE: Reclaim Connecticut combined data from Esty’s third-quarter report filed Monday with combined disbursement data from prior quarters. We focused on “Line 17” operating expenditures for the total above and analysis below, not on loan repayments, refunds of contributions, or “Other Disbursements.”

SALARY

Almost a quarter of Esty’s spending ($30,697.42, or 22.9 percent) was on the salary, and payroll taxes and fees, for three employees. Only one – Timothy Daly, Esty’s spokesman, stayed on the payroll after April 2018.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS

Another 22.4 percent ($30,084.78) was spent on “Digital Communications” with two firms: Well & Lighthouse, LLC and Veracity Media. What is Esty digitally communicating from her campaign, given she’s not running for reelection?

A quick Facebook ad search for Esty’s name pops up several ads by Friends of Elizabeth Esty touting her service to the Fifth District. One example of an ad that was active as of Wednesday reads, “I’m grateful to represent Connecticut’s Fifth District in Congress. In these divisive times, I’m proud of the work we’ve done to support our families and improve our community.”

RESEARCH AND LEGAL SERVICES

Another 17.3 percent ($23,209.29) Esty spent on research and legal services. The research services payment went to Peter D. Hart Research Associates. It’s unclear what Esty’s campaign did with Hart, but given Hart Research Associates offers polling services it’s possible they were the vendor Esty turned to to poll Fifth District constituents (read the Courant‘s report on that, from last week, here). The payment to Hart Research Associates is dated September 10, 2018 – just a few weeks ago.

CONSULTING

Another 12.3 percent, or $16,500, went to two vendors – Kalik & Associates, Inc. for fundraising consulting, and Hamburger Gibson Creative for strategic consulting. It’s easy to read too much into these payments, though, as all were made between early April and early May.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Most of the rest of Esty’s spending is on smaller items, including financial compliance, credit card processing fees, printing, travel, and food & beverage.

The Facebook ads and the alleged polling certainly raise questions about Esty’s future intentions, though. Why is she spending campaign cash when she apparently has no election in front of her? Time will tell, and the end of the calendar year will bring at least one more campaign finance report from Friends of Elizabeth Esty.