DeStefano returns money from questionable donors

Continuing to play the roll of reformer, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. returned campaign donations from Sal Brancati, the scandal-marred former director of the city’s Office of Business Development, and John Horvath Jr., owner of Grasso Associates.

Horvath has admitted to paying Brancati and an associate over $77,000 to steer business to his financial planning firm, the New Haven Register reported in August.

Brancati, who denies wrongdoing in the Grasso case, has been accused of several inappropriate activities stemming from his tenure as development director.

But DeStefano campaign manager Julio Gonzalez ’99 said the campaign returned Brancati’s $750 in donations, along with the $1,000 given by Horvath, because this accusation merited special attention.

“This instance, the mayor in particular felt was different and much more serious,” Gonzalez said.

DeStefano will try to win a fifth term in November’s election against Republican Joel Schiavone ’58.

DeStefano and state Sen. Martin Looney traded accusations about Brancati during their Democratic primary campaign this summer. The Looney camp frequently made references to scandals within the DeStefano administration, while the mayor criticized Looney for recommending Brancati be given a contract for a baseball stadium feasibility plan.

Brancati did not return calls Sunday, and Horvath could not be reached for comment.

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