BREAKING NEWS
CTNOW

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Lauretti Spent Campaign Cash On Charity Golf Outing With Syracuse Coach

Neil Vigdor
Contact Reporternvigdor@courant.com

Deep in the heart of UConn country, thwarted gubernatorial candidate Mark Lauretti spent $1,600 in political contributions to play in a charity golf tournament of rival Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.

The longtime Shelton mayor was a graduate assistant coach under Boeheim from 1979 to 1982.

The ticket price included a round of golf at Atunyote Golf Club at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in upstate New York, a VIP reception, dinner and celebrity auction.

The expenditure was made eight days after Lauretti’s campaign fell short of getting enough signatures to get onto the Republican primary ballot for governor.

Lauretti, a 27-year incumbent who is currently Fairfield County’s longest-serving mayor or first selectman, defended the June 20 payment to the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation during an interview Monday with The Courant.

“This is a foundation that donates to kids that have cancer, kids that have trauma in their life,” Lauretti said. “No different than what Geno Auriemma does or what coach [Jim] Calhoun does here in the state of Connecticut. I think most of contributors are intelligent enough to understand to that this is going to children who need our support and are in a different place.”

While unsuccessful candidates can give surplus campaign funds to charity under Connecticut’s election law, Lauretti’s golf outing drew criticism from the head of one prominent watchdog group.

“Spending money that is supposed to be for your election campaign on something that is essentially a personal perk just seems inadvisable to me and I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause Connecticut. “It’s a personal perk. He can’t even say, ‘I’m spending it on UConn.”

A request for comment was left Monday for the state Elections Enforcement Commission.

Lauretti’s campaign committee is still active, despite a requirement that termination paperwork be filed with the state within seven days of distributing surplus funds. He said he has another $60,000 that he plans to give to several charities that haven’t been identified yet.

Surplus campaign contributions can also be refunded on a pro rata basis to contributors; given to veterans organizations; or donated to Connecticut’s public campaign financing program.

Boeheim has led the Orange to five Final Fours and one national championship during his 42 years as coach of Syracuse University, which was a founding member of the Big East with UConn. The two programs developed one of the best rivalries in college hoops, with Calhoun guiding Connecticut to three national titles.

“I’ve been friends with Jim Boeheim for over 35 years,” Lauretti said, noting that he’s coached at Boeheim’s basketball camps and attended four Final Fours.

Lauretti said this wasn’t his first time playing in Boeheim’s charity tournament and that he’s used both personal and campaign funds in the past to pay his entry fee.

Boeheim was in attendance, but did not play in the 11th Annual Jim Boeheim Golf Classic, according to Lauretti, who said he was in a prime grouping for the tournament.

“I went off the first tee, if that’s any indication,” Lauretti said.

Copyright © 2018, CT Now
52°