Former Chief of Staff to House Republican Minority Leader Admits Profiting by Steering Campaign Business
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that GEORGE GALLO, 46, of East Hampton, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to one count of mail fraud related to his receipt of more than $100,000 from a political campaign direct mail company to which he steered business.
According to court documents and statements made in court, GALLO was an employee of the State of Connecticut as the Chief of Staff to the Minority Leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives. As part of his responsibilities, GALLO was responsible for designing and overseeing the campaign program of the House Republican Campaign Committee (“HRCC”), a state-registered political action committee that provides material and strategic support to Republican candidates for the Connecticut House of Representatives.
In 2008, GALLO and others developed a HRCC campaign program in anticipation of the first general election cycle in which candidates seeking election to the Connecticut General Assembly or statewide office would receive public financing through the state’s Citizens’ Election Program (“CEP”). The purpose of the new program, in part, was to enable the HRCC to centrally coordinate CEP funded campaigns by providing Republican House candidates with access to comprehensive campaign related services, including direct mail services, voter information, polling, messaging advice and campaign management. GALLO selected the campaign service vendors that were permitted to participate in the HRCC program.
In pleading guilty, GALLO admitted that he informed an employee of a Florida-based company that provided direct mail services to political campaigns of a new business opportunity in Connecticut. GALLO indicated to the employee that the CEP would lead to greater numbers of well-funded Republican House candidates in need of direct mail services, and that the Florida company could serve as a HRCC sponsored vendor with access to CEP funded Republican candidates. In exchange, the company would make payments to GALLO equal to 10 percent of the revenue that the company received from candidates participating in the HRCC program. GALLO indicated to the employee that such an arrangement would be “good for [the company] and good for George Gallo.” The employee agreed to GALLO’s proposal.
As part of the scheme, GALLO and the HRCC hosted “campaign schools” for House Republican candidates where HRCC sponsored vendors, including the Florida company, gave presentations marketing their services. GALLO and others arranged for candidates to meet individually with the Florida company to discuss in greater detail the company’s services, prices and a direct mail plan. These meetings occurred at several locations, including the State Capitol.
During the 2008 and 2012 election cycles, GALLO made false representations to the Minority Leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives that he did not have a financial relationship with or receive any compensation from any of the HRCC sponsored vendors. During the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles, GALLO made additional false representations to others, knowing that his statements would be communicated to House Republican candidates participating in the HRCC campaign program, that he did not receive any compensation from any HRCC sponsored vendor.
From 2008 through 2012, the Florida company mailed checks made payable to the Vinco Group, a Cromwell based limited liability company in which GALLO was the sole member, totaling approximately $117,266.63.
In pleading guilty, GALLO further admitted that he made multiple false statements to FBI special agents on October 1, 2013, when he was interviewed about his relationship with HRCC sponsored vendors. In the interview, GALLO denied that either he or the Vinco Group had a business relationship with any vendors utilized by HRCC, and he denied that he had received any income through the Vinco Group since becoming Chief of Staff to the Connecticut House Minority Leader.
Judge Bryant scheduled sentencing for July 29, 2015, at which time GALLO faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
Follow his guilty plea, GALLO was released on a $200,000 bond.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, with the assistance of the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force and the State Election Enforcement Commission. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Mattei.