Former Senator Charged With Campaign Finance Fraud
Ernie Newton, the former Bridgeport lawmaker who was convicted in 2006 on corruption charges and resigned from the state Senate before serving four years in a federal prison, was arrested Friday and charged with falsely obtaining thousands of dollars in public funds to finance his unsuccessful bid to win back his seat.
Newton, 56, was arrested on a warrant charging him with one count of larceny in the first degree, five counts of illegal campaign practices, and one count of tampering with a witness.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Newton submitted false documentation to obtain $80,550 from the state’s Citizens Election Program to support his ultimately unsuccessful 2012 campaign for his old state Senate seat.
The warrant says Newton was $500 short of the $15,000 in private contributions he needed to raise to qualify for the Citizens Election Program grant. Newton had five campaign workers sign cards stating they had contributed to the campaign when in fact they had not, the warrant states.
Upon receipt of the falsified information, the state Elections Enforcement Commission released $80,550 in grant money to the Newton campaign on July 23, 2012, the warrant states. When one of the five individuals who signed contribution cards was contacted by SEEC investigators, Newton told her not to speak to them.
Newton came to the state Capitol in November and decried the discrimination he experienced as a former felon when he applied for the public campaign funds.
“They didn’t want to give it to me. That shouldn’t have been. They should have looked at the law and said ‘He met the requirements. He shouldn’t be discriminated against.’ Our system, as it stands today, is a system that’s been broken for a long time,” Newton said at a public hearing in front of the state Sentencing Commission.
Newton was arrested Friday by inspectors from the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney at the Connecticut State Police Troop I barracks in Bethany. He was released on a written promise to appear and will be arraigned Jan. 17 in Hartford Superior Court.
The larceny charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, tampering with a witness is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and each of the five campaign finance violations carry a maximum five-year term.
In 2006, Newton was sentenced for accepting a $5,000 bribe, evading taxes, and pilfering campaign contributions to pay for car repairs, personal cellphone calls, and other expenses.