The controversy over the planned hiring of Republican Sebastian Giuliano as the new executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) may have quieted for now. However, some Democrats in the legislature are already talking about future “consequences” for the commissioners if they moved ahead with the hiring.
Tension was high last week between Democrats who oppose the former Middletown mayor’s hiring and Republicans who support it. Giuliano ran for a fourth term just this past fall but lost to Democrat Dan Drew. Things were exacerbated when Wesleyan University students filed a complaint alleging Giuliano engaged in voter suppression at the school during the last election.
The approval of Giuliano was on the agenda for SEEC’s January meeting. But the panel passed on any action on a new executive director. The next meeting isn’t until February 18th. If Giuliano ultimately gets the job, Democrats will keep it in mind when the commissioners’ respective terms expire.
State Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney says hiring Giuliano would be a “radical departure” for the SEEC. “The commission has traditionally stayed independent and nonpartisan. This appointment would certainly change that,” Looney said. “I don’t know him [Giuliano] personally but he has a good professional reputation. However, Democrats are upset that this would create at least an appearance of injecting politics into a nonpartisan group. We would think the Republicans would be similarly upset if the SEEC hired a partisan Democrat. As it stands now, if Mr. Giuliano is approved, there will likely be consequences,” he said.