GOP Chairman Files Election Law Complaint Against Democrats
Posted: Friday, September 30, 2011
By David Gurliacci
Norwalk Republican Chairman Art Scialabba says Democrat Nora King and the Friends of Andy Garfunkel campaign committee violated state election law in a technical way and also violated the spirit of the law in an "extremely disturbing" way.
Norwalk GOP Chairman Art Scialabba says Democrat Nora King and the campaign committee for Andy Garfunkel's mayoral campaign committed a technical violation of state campaign law and, in another way, violated the spirit of the law.
Marc Bradley, chairman of the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee, responded that Scialabba's technical complaint was petty. Bradley declined to discuss what Scialabba said was a violation of the spirit of another part of election law.
The technical violation of state election law was that King did not have the proper language "paid for by" the Friends of Andy Garfunkel committee in her email, Scialabba said.
The violation of the spirit of the law was that some of the emails were sent to the heads of some Norwalk city government departments by King, a member of the Common Council which oversees and even passes the budget for those departments, he said.
Scialabba, who also works in Mayor Richard A. Moccia's re-election campaign, said that the violation occurred with invitations King emailed on Sept. 13 asking recipients to attend a fundraiser at her house for Garfunkel. The emailed letter stated that both Garfunkel and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would be at the event.
In issuing a news release about his complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Scialabba attached a copy of King's emailed letter. King's email omits the language apparently required by the law, although her email makes clear that the event was supported by Garfunkel's campaign.
Scialabba was asked in an interview Thursday evening how important is the violation he's alleging. He did not directly respond, only saying: "It's state law. We all have to follow state law. If we [Republicans] didn't follow state law, I'm sure we would be called out."
King did not respond to a telephone message requesting comment on Thursday evening. Instead, Bradley, the Norwalk Democratic chairman called back and responded.
"To bring this petty accusation, six weeks out [from Election Day], speaks to the kind of campaign they're running," Bradley said. The complaint was a "distraction from the real issues" of the campaign, such as crime, city services and taxes, and an example of "agressive, bullying tactics."
Bradley added, "This is indicative of their campaign and clearly how they want to operate City Hall."
Scialabba's complaint to the elections commission cited Section 9-621(a) of state law on elections.
The section states that no individual or organization working with the consent of a candidate's campaign organization may send out "any [...] communication [...] which promotes the success or defeat of any candidate's campaign [...] unless such communication bears upon its face (1) the words "paid for by" and the following: (A) In the case of such an individual, the name and address of such individual [...]"
Scialabba on the spirit of the law
Scialabba also wrote, "What is also extremely disturbing is the fact [...] a sitting councilwoman had sent these electronic invitations to city employees' and department heads' municipal email accounts without their approval, seeking contributions for her party's mayoral candidate."
In the interview, Scialabba said, "What's disturbing is the fact that a sitting councilwoman, who may have funding authority over some of these city officers is soliciting [them] for a campaign."
Bradley said he would decline to comment on that aspect of Scialabba's complaint.
Section 9-622(12) prohibits campaign solicitations from "[a]ny municipal employee [...] on behalf of, or for the benefit of, any candidate for state, district or municipal office, any political committee or any political party, from (A) an individual under the supervision of such employee [...]"
Scialabba: "It comes extremely close"
As a member of the Common Council, King receives a stipend from the city, but Scialabba did not contend that that makes King an employee subject to the provisions of that section of the law.
In her email, King wrote, "Thank you for your support and, we look forward to seeing you on Friday, September 23rd."
In his news release, Scialabba wrote, "Sending these invitations may not be a direct violation of Section 9-622(12) of the General Statutes, which prohibits municipal employees from soliciting funds for the benefit of any candidate, but it comes extremely close and violates the spirit of the law."
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