Connecticut’s MUST READ news article of the weekend, in case you missed it, was Jon Lender’s “Delay In Enforcing Subpoena Of Democratic Party Records Raises Questions.”
As Wait, What? readers will recall, in the fall of 2013, it became increasingly apparent that Governor Dannel Malloy and his political operatives were intent on undermining Connecticut’s campaign finance law. The issues began to surface in an October 31, 2013 post entitled, “Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform.”
That article was followed by many more…. (See partial list below)
The inappropriate tactics engaged by Malloy and Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee generated multiple campaign finance complaints and a major investigation by the State Election Enforcement Commission.
In a virtually unprecedented step the Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission issued a subpoena for records and documents related to Malloy’s campaign.
As Jon Lender explained,
The SEEC’s May 29 (2015) subpoena sought records that might shed light on the GOP’s claim that Democrats illegally circumvented the state’s ban on contractor contributions last year by collecting state contractors’ money in a “federal account” and using it to pay for mass mailings on behalf of Malloy.
But instead of complying with the subpoena, the lawyer representing Malloy’s political operation refused to hand over the required documents and they have done everything they can to delay, derail and prevent a fair, open and thorough investigation.
The Governor who will become the head of the Democratic Governors Association in January 2015 is engaged in a blatant effort to obstruct justice.
Jon Lender writes,
“The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted June 25 to go to court to enforce a subpoena that the state Democratic Party has defied rather than hand over the party’s records of communications between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and top aides about allegedly illegal spending in his 2014 re-election campaign.
The SEEC’s extraordinary action generated a flurry of news reports. But now, more than a month later, all the noise has died down and no such action has been filed in state Superior Court.
What’s going on?
Government Watch addressed that question a few days ago to the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen, which has the responsibility of filing any court action in behalf of the SEEC. A Jepsen spokeswoman responded with a written statement saying that although the attorney general’s office is aware of the SEEC’s June 25 vote, it hasn’t yet received a written “referral” that formally requests the court action.”
This would be a good time to say…. What the ______?
When Lender contacted Jepson’s office he got this,
“In response to your inquiry, our office has not yet received a formal referral from the SEEC. We have been in communication with SEEC — though those communications are subject to attorney-client privilege and we are, therefore, unable to provide details of those communications — and we have designated significant staff resources in anticipation of the referral,” said the statement. “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
It would be inappropriate to comment?
The State Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating whether the Democratic State Central Committee broke the law by using money from its “Federal Account” to benefit Dannel Malloy.
Malloy’s lawyer claims that even though the direct mail pieces were all about Malloy they were actually intended to benefit the entire Democratic Ticket – a Democratic Ticket that included Attorney General George Jepson.
However you look at it – the money was either spent to support Jepsen’s colleague – Dannel Malloy – or it was spent to benefit Jepsen … or both!
And Jepsen’s Office is hardly in a position to “lead” the investigation.
One person who is speaking out is Connecticut’s Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano.
It was the Republican Party’s original complaint that led to the investigation into the Malloy campaign’s inappropriate use of the Democratic State Central Committee’s Federal Account.
“Romano said he’s not only been wondering what delayed the court action concerning his party’s pending complaint, but he also questions whether the SEEC should be represented by the office of Jepsen — a former state Democratic party chairman who successfully ran for re-election on the same statewide ticket as Malloy.
By statute, the attorney general represents administrative agencies such as the SEEC in court, unless some actual or perceived conflict of interest results in the hiring of an outside, independent law firm. The SEEC has not asked to be represented by legal counsel outside of Jepson’s office — and such a request would be controversial and probably would be viewed as impolitic.
Romano had no qualms about that, though. “The SEEC is doing the best job they can,” he said, but “the people in charge of this” — the handling of the court case, that is — are all allied and were elected along with members of the same party.”
That party, he said, lately has been “doing everything, at all costs, not to have the public look at their records.”
What is clear is that Democratic State Central Committee and their lawyer, David Golub, are working non-stop to derail the investigation.
As background, Lender notes,
“The Republicans’ complaint was filed after the Democrats sent out mass campaign mailings last October that were dominated by photos and assertions aimed at re-electing Malloy. The mailings also contained some small print telling voters when polls would be open on Election Day and providing a phone number to call to get a ride to the polls.
Democrats said that the inclusion of the small print turned the pro-Malloy mailings into “get-out-the-vote” materials — and that because those get-out-the-vote efforts also would help Democratic candidates for Congress who were on the ballot, the mailings had to be paid for using the party’s “federal account.”
Republicans called that a dodge, saying that state contractors were permitted to contribute heavily to the state party’s “federal account” — and that this was a means for Democrats to pump contractors’ money into campaigns for state offices and skirt the clean-election laws that they once championed. Good-government groups such as Common Cause have agreed.
A month before last November’s election, state Democrats requested a legal opinion from the Federal Election Commission on the legality of their plan to use money from their “federal account” to pay for the Malloy mailings. But within a week or so, they went ahead with the mailings and withdrew their request for the FEC’s opinion.
In June, The Courant disclosed that a draft of the legal opinion had been written at the FEC but had not been approved by the time the Democrats withdrew their request. If issued, it would not have been good news for the Democrats; one of its findings was that the mailings appeared to be part of an attempt to “avoid” and “bypass” Connecticut’s clean election laws.
“It would be absurd,” the draft opinion said, “to allow the [Democratic State Central Committee] to circumvent the anticorruption measures of state law by using a federal law that is intended to prevent circumvention of anticorruption measures.”
You can find Jon Lender’s full story at: http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-lender-democrats-subpoena-delayed-0802-20150801-column.html#page=1
For more about the issue check out the following Wait, What? posts;