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Judge Denies Temporary Restraining Order & Motion to Include Election Regulators In GOP Lawsuit

by | Oct 20, 2014 3:03pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Campaign Finance, Courts, Election 2014

Hugh McQuaid photo A superior court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the state Democratic Party and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign Monday after a hearing on a lawsuit filed by state Republicans. He also denied a motion to make state election regulators a party to the case.

Lawyers for state Republicans, Democrats, Malloy’s campaign and the State Elections Enforcement Commission crowded into a small courtroom in Hartford Monday for a hearing on an injunction filed last week by the Republican Party.

The party filed the lawsuit in response to a decision by Democrats to fund a pro-Malloy mail piece with money from its federal account, where the law permits state contractors to donate.

In a filing to federal regulators, SEEC has called the Democrats’ proposal to use federal funds in support Malloy a cynical attempt to circumvent state law. Republicans have sought to make the agency a party to their lawsuit. However, the state regulators resisted that motion Monday, arguing that they should decide the issue rather than the superior court.

“SEEC can not be a party in this case,” Deputy Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn told Judge Antonio Robaina. “It is the fair adjudicator of this complaint. If it were to participate, it would forever be tainted from ever fairly adjudicating this case.”

Sen. Len Fasano, a North Haven Republican who appeared in court with GOP lawyer Proloy K. Das, called SEEC’s position “mindboggling.” Fasano pointed to the regulators’ position in prior filings and advisory opinions, which have been critical of the Democrats’ position.

“Now, to sit there and bow out of the main dance, I’m very surprised,” Fasano told the court.

“The dance needs to happen over at the SEEC,” Zinn-Rowthorn said.

Republicans argued that it will be too late by the time the regulators take up the case. They asked Robaina to issue a temporary order, barring Democrats from spending money from their federal account on statewide races.

“We want a restraining order in place,” Das said. “We are less than two weeks away from an election. By delaying it, we continue to be further aggrieved.”

Zinn-Rowthorn said the agency had significant concerns about the case, but also said that barring the Democrats from spending money during the election raised First Amendment issues. He said the regulators needed to decide the case through its own process.

“If that’s too slow for Mr. Das, that’s unfortunate,” he said.

David S. Golub, an attorney for the Democratic Party, accused the Republicans of making wild accusations.

“Judge, this is just crazy talk,” he said at one point Monday morning.

Golub argued that the Democrats were required to pay for the mailer with federal funds because it contained get-out-the-vote information. He said Republicans were attempting to overturn federal election law through “courthouse press rhetoric.”

Golub rejected Republicans’ assertion that state contractor donations were used to help pay for the pro-Malloy mailer. He said contributions from contractors are segregated from the rest of the federal account.

“I want everybody to hear this—the Malloy campaign and the Democratic Party did not use state contractor funds to send out the mailer,” he said.

At the end of the day, Robaina denied Republicans’ motion to make the SEEC a party to their complaint and declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the Democrats and Malloy’s campaign.

The case will continue on Thursday. Early in Monday’s hearing, Robaina asked whether lawyers from both sides could make their case in five minutes.

“Not unless they want to agree to an injunction,” Das said.

“Not unless they want to agree to dismiss,” William Bloss, an attorney for Malloy’s campaign, responded.

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(5) Archived Comments

posted by: UConnHoop | October 20, 2014  4:50pm

The argument that contactor funds are segregated from all of the other money in the Dems’ federal account is beyond absurd.  I can’t believe that someone who apparently passed the bar exam was able to make this ridiculous argument without falling on the floor in laughter!!!

posted by: One and Done | October 20, 2014  6:45pm

Democrat law.

Democrat Judge.

Democrat SEEC.

Ruling for Democrats.

Go figure.

posted by: Noteworthy | October 21, 2014  4:49am

None of this legal wrangling would be necessary if Malloy and the Democrat Party just did what’s right. Instead, they’ve chosen the slimy, sleazy path to this year’s election. From the day they decided to raise funds for the “federal account” there was a strategy put in place to use this money for Malloy’s reelection in violation of the Connecticut’s election laws, intent and spirit.  Equally troubling is that no sitting Democrat has publicly called the governor on it.

posted by: bob8/57 | October 21, 2014  12:17pm

bob8/57

Republican hubris knows no bounds. It’s what trips them up when (in those rare instances) they get elected. Voters are appalled when Republican hugs and puppies rhetoric is replaced by shock and awe…

If federal law allows it, state law can not supersede it. So no restraining order for the overly litigious Republicans.

posted by: One and Done | October 21, 2014  3:06pm

@bob8/57.  I hope you aren’t a lawyer with that interpretation.

CT law allows you to opt out of CEP.  That means there is no conflict. 

Malloy can not have it both ways, unless of course every Democrat judge in the union let’s him.  He does have the option of changing CEP legislatively to comply with his scam, but this is more convenient I guess to break the law and get away with it due to his political affiliation.

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