State Election Regulators Serve Democrats With Investigatory Subpoena; Republicans Draw Line In Sand
The State Election Enforcement Commission on Friday issued a wide-ranging subpoena to members of the Connecticut Democratic Party and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign seeking documents in an investigation of mailings sent during the 2014 election.
The subpoena arrived only hours after the House passed a pointed set of changes to the state’s campaign finance laws Thursday night. The Senate appears unlikely to take up the package, which would forbid state candidates from using a party’s federal account to pay for any mailings, among other limitations designed to undo changes made to campaign finance regulations in 2013.
The subpoena shows that state election regulators are looking for documents related to how the mailings were funded and any information about how the message was developed. Regulators also requested all documents and communications related to contributions over $1,000 received by the Democratic State Central Committee that were solicited by Malloy for any federal account.
Further, the subpoena seeks information related to meetings between Gov. Malloy, former Democratic Party Executive Director Jonathan Harris, Malloy campaign manager Jonathan Blair, Chief of Staff Mark Ojakian, and Roy Occhiogrosso, a consultant with Global Strategies Group and a former Malloy adviser.
The subpoena also seeks copies of any polls conducted during the 2014 election and paid for by the Democratic Party from “any account.”
The information is due back to election regulators by 2 p.m. June 12.
Michael Mandell, the current executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party, said in response to the subpoena that the party “continues to follow all state and federal rules, laws, and regulations.”
He defended the decision to send the mailings.
“We took extraordinary steps not only to live by the letter of the law, but also in accordance with the spirit of the law. There is an inherent conflict between the requirements of federal and state campaign finance laws as to how get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activity must be funded, and we believe that state law is clearly pre-empted by federal law in this case. That’s why we have taken action in State Superior Court — we are hoping to resolve this matter equitably and expeditiously.”
Earlier this week the Connecticut Democratic Party filed an appeal in Hartford Superior Court asking the court to overturn the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s decision to deny its request for a ruling on how state and federal campaign law co-exist.
Michael Brandi, executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, declined comment on the subpoenas and was unable to say how many people were served as a result of the investigation.
The investigation was prompted by a complaint from Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr.
“Governor Malloy and the Connecticut Democrats made a mess of campaign finance regulations and now they find themselves caught in a tangled web with the subpoenas issued today. We will continue to monitor our complaint and we have trust in the process. It is essential that everyone plays by the same rules and integrity is maintained in our electoral system.” Labriola said Friday.
Asked how Republicans planned to convince their Democratic colleagues to pass the legislation, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said, “I don’t think we should have to convince them. There’s a problem with the system.”
He said it’s obvious the system is broken. They just have to have to will to do it in their caucus.
Fasano said three of the four caucuses in the Capitol are in agreement. He said it’s only the Senate Democrats who aren’t on board.
Adam Joseph, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic caucus, said Friday that they have “major concerns with the bill as drafted, not the least of which is it fails to increase transparency and does nothing to stem dark money into the process.”
Fasano said they will attach the bill to every relevant bill until they adjourn at midnight on June 3.