Democratic State Central Committee Chair Nancy DiNardo has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission accusing former congressional candidate Republican Janet Peckinpaugh of illegal use of campaign funds and failure to properly report campaign spending. Peckinpaugh is now a candidate in the special election for the 36th State House District.

“Peckinpaugh may have concealed $70,000 in expenditures, illegally used campaign funds for personal use, and failed to pay thousands to staff and small businesses,’ said DiNardo in a news release. “She should address these issues immediately, or drop her candidacy for state representative.”

Peckinpaugh issued a statement calling DiNardo’s action a “lame attack.” She did say she would fix any inaccuracies in her campaign filings. “The Democrats in Hartford are afraid that I will be elected… and this complaint is simply a diversion that will not fool anyone…If there is missing information in the report or there are any shortcomings in the filings, my Treasurer and I will review them and file an amended report with the Federal Election Commission as soon as possible.”

DiNardo’s complaint highlighted the following:

-Expenditures totaling $68,090.57, or 25% of her overall expenditures, were filed without description. For transparency reasons, all expenditures must be detailed under federal election law.
-Peckinpaugh’s campaign made $8,051.52 in unspecified “reimbursements” to Peckinpaugh. FEC law states that reimbursements must be documented. This is a protection against candidates illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses.
-Failure to disclose a debt of $22,359.12, and to whom this debt is owed. Under federal election law, debt is allowed but a candidate must report to whom the money is owed.

“These campaign finance laws are there to increase transparency, and to keep candidates from illegally using campaign funds for personal use. Peckinpaugh’s report – which contained nearly $70,000 in unspecified expenditures and over $8,000 in unspecified reimbursements – is full of egregious violations. She is one of the worst offenders of campaign finance law that I’ve seen in years,” said DiNardo.

Peckinpaugh says the complaint is just a distraction. “The real issue is who will offer the kind of honest leadership we need in the 36th District and who understands what working people are dealing with each and every day As someone who is self-employed, I know we cannot accept larger government, more state spending and more taxes. “

Over the weekend, the Hanging Shad reported about the controversy over a proposed debate between Peckinpaugh and her opponent in the Feb. 22 special election, Essex First Selectman Democrat Phil Miller.