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Brinton defends developer cash in her campaign’s pocket

Standing for the Pledge of Allegiance in March at the beginning of a Common Council meeting in City Hall are Lisa Brinton, left, and Jason Milligan. At far right is developer Paxton Kinol, who donated $1,000 to Mayor Harry Rilling in 2015, 2017 and again this year.

The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. – In 2017, unaffiliated Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton refused to take campaign donations from developers and said she’d continue that trend as Mayor.

Fast forward to 2019, and Brinton, continuing her attempt to take down Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, has accepted $1,000 from real estate broker Jason Milligan and $200 from developer Michael DiScala, who she once implied had a “wink and nod” deal with Rilling.

Brinton’s $1,200 this year compares to Rilling’s at least $16,000 in $1,000 donations  – the maximum allowed – from developers or people connected to development, as of June 30. Brinton as of June 30 had raised $15,095.83 for this year’s campaign and Rilling had raised $93,647.61 in monetary donations. In 2017, Rilling raised more than $140,000 in his successful bid for reelection, much of it from developers. Republican candidate Andy Conroy called the developer money “alarming.”

“How can Norwalkers expect the mayor to act in their best interests when so much of his donations have come from the very people who want to profit from developing in Norwalk?  It is truly unprecedented for a Norwalk mayor to receive so many outsider contributions,” Conroy wrote.

Milligan is embroiled in an extended legal battle with the City and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, a lawsuit Brinton calls “vindictive and ridiculous.” Should the plaintiffs prevail, they would be seeking to have Milligan to pay their costs.

NoN wanted to know if Brinton has changed her stance on developer contributions, and posed several related questions to her via email.

 

So, how can voters know whether Brinton is supporting Milligan because she believes he’s doing the right thing instead of supporting Milligan because he’s supporting her?

“My focus remains and always has been on protecting taxpayers from bad and less than transparent decision-making at city hall,” Brinton replied. “My position on Poko was formulated and expressed during the LAST mayoral campaign and focused on holding Citibank responsible.”

 

How can voters know that Brinton will consider what’s right for the City if she becomes Mayor, instead of doing what’s right for Milligan?

“Here’s a better question…now that the politically connected developer, McClutchy has proposed a plan that doesn’t need Mr. Milligan’s parcels, will the City drop the lawsuit, as a waste of money? Is it still in taxpayers’ interests   to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars suing Mr. Milligan?” Brinton replied

Rilling didn’t reply to an email asking that question.

“I disagreed with the mayor on this lawsuit because it seems to have been pursued out of personal vindictiveness rather than protecting the city,” Brinton wrote. “Private investment in worthwhile projects is something I support, but I don’t believe in tax payer funded giveaways or tax credits for bad developments.  If that philosophy impressed Mr. Milligan to support me, I’m glad.”

Brinton, criticizing Rilling in 2017, said, “Nobody gives money for nothing. It was told, in the old days, that developers used to give money. They give $1000 to the candidate that they supported or the incumbent or whatever, and $500 to the other candidate. There was some of the money that we seem to have traced back to some of the big box stores, I’m not trying to name names.”

She also said, “I don’t take campaign donations from developers. I want to talk to them. I want to sit down and talk about how to help Norwalk, but I don’t need to be bought. This city is going to do well. They don’t need to buy influence, you just don’t. I’m happy to speak with them and let’s talk about what we need to do. I don’t think Harry has done anything that maybe other mayors haven’t done, taking money from developers. I think that’s been going on in Norwalk for years and years and years.”

 

So, isn’t it hypocritical to take money from Milligan and DiScala?

“I’m grateful for Mr. Discala’s support,” Brinton replied. “However, most meaningful are the donations from regular residents.  This is my community barometer, regardless of the amount of the donation, when compared to a list of donors of which the ‘majority’ are insider politicos and developers.”

 

Rilling released this statement to NancyOnNorwalk, in response to Brinton’s comments:

“Each candidate must make their own decisions about who to accept donations from. I accept donations from those who support my vision and those who want to see the city continue to thrive.

“Despite her pledge not to accept donations from certain individuals during the last campaign, my opponent now welcomes contributions from developers, as well as donations from those who waste taxpayer dollars with frivolous lawsuits and others who bully and harass public officials and everyday residents online.”

10 comments

Jason Milligan July 22, 2019 at 2:51 am

If I were interested in pay to play I would have been donating to Harry all along. There is nobody better at rewarding cronies.I would not have become an activist.

Lisa got my donation and my support because she is the best candidate. She is smart, articulate and willing to listen. She is ethical and will do what is best for Norwalk and its citizens.

I want less government. I want government doing the few important things really well. Not favors!

I am happy to compete on a level playing field.

Btw, the only other donation I have made so far is to Deb Goldstein running in the 3rd district.

Square that one. She is as critical of me as anyone. Deb Goldstein got my donation and support because she is smart, fair, and will do what is right for Norwalk.

Jason Milligan July 22, 2019 at 2:52 am

That picture is the same night John Kydes, Eloisa and others assured us all that Garden Cinema was safe. Kydes interrupted the 3rd or 4th speaker pleading to save the Cinema to announce that there was a misinformation campaign.

What a difference a couple months makes. The plan to tear down the Garden Cinema has become public.

Kydes was aware of McClutchy’s plans to tear it down all along.

Jason Milligan July 22, 2019 at 3:08 am

If I were interested in pay to play I would have been donating to this regime all along. There is nobody better at rewarding cronies than our current mayor. I would not have become an activist.

Lisa got my donation and my support because she is the best candidate. She is smart, articulate and willing to listen. She is ethical and will do what is best for Norwalk and its citizens.

I want less government. I want government doing the few important things really well. Not favors!

I am happy to compete on a level playing field.

Btw, the only other donation I have made so far is to Deb G. running in the 3rd district.

Square that one. She is as critical of me as anyone. Deb got my donation and support because she is smart, fair, and will do what is right for Norwalk.

Milly July 22, 2019 at 5:44 am

Mr. Milligan likes to point out other peoples lies. And then we are suppose to believe that on Wall St his workers were to do “light” work (without permits) and they took it upon themselves to do demolition work instead because people want to do hard labor for a “light” wage, caused a flood and ran away. The same unpermitted demolition happened at another one of your properties. Honestly is it the truth your workers keep doing demolition work on their own?

And for the first time I will not vote for mayor – both candidates have agendas that do not benefit Norwakers.

Paul July 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm

$1,200.. OMG !!! Nancy be serious!! The developer of Poko is going to get millions for an I’ll-conceived , expensive Citibank project … Check Rilling’s contributors

Paul A. July 22, 2019 at 4:02 pm

@Paul
That’s what real reporters are supposed to do, look at both sides of the story to try and get facts no matter what money or who is involved. Let’s not attack journalists for asking questions that may invalidate our own beliefs, let’s embrace them to allow us to think critically. Let’s not let the lunacy of media attacks from the top of our Federal government trickle on down to our everyday lives. Because I fear for us all if it does. As Pogo said many years ago, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Paul July 22, 2019 at 7:42 pm

@Paul A … then investigate both sides instead of targeting one side for $1,200! That would be credible journalism.

Ron Morris July 22, 2019 at 9:24 pm

Paul
Really nothing to investigate as Harry never denied taking donations form developers. Lisa on the other hand said that she would not take donations from developers and she did. This tells me that word is useless. Lets say what true out of the 3 running not one of them should be Mayor.

I along with Milly for the first time I will not vote for mayor.

Patrick Cooper
You say False equivalency. Please tell us how. I sure hope you don’t say because of the dollar amount as that is not of any importance. Could it be that the truth has come out about you candidate that she is no better than Rilling?

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