Conn. Dems Dig the Hole Deeper: Won’t Comply with Subpoena and Want the Process Kept Secret; SEEC to Go to Court

The strange tale of the Connecticut Democratic Party’s campaign financing problems got even more curious Thursday as the party’s attorney sent a letter to the State Elections Enforcement Committee (SEEC) questioning the commission’s impartiality. This while continuing to refuse to comply with the SEEC’s subpoena. The commission voted to send the matter to Attorney General for legal action.

The SEEC is investigating whether the state Democratic Party violated or at least tried to circumvent state clean elections law by using a “federal” account to pay for mailers that implored people to support Gov. Dannel Malloy’s reelection. The commission subpoenaed all emails between the governor and his top campaign staffers.

Bits and pieces of information related to the case has been making its way into articles written by the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender. Lender got the information through masterful use of Freedom of Information requests. Among the items Lender wrote about includes a draft opinion on the case from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The preliminary opinion said the state Democratic Party was trying to circumvent the state’s clean elections law.

There was no final opinion from the FEC because the party withdrew its request for one after arguing the case could only be resolved on the federal level. That’s the reasoning behind its refusal to comply with the subpoena from the SEEC.

The complaint alleges that the Democrats used a “federal” account to pay for mailings designed to reelect Malloy. The distinction is important because state contractors can—and did—contribute heavily to the federal account but couldn’t contribute to a state election campaign under state law.

Malloy campaign mailers under scrutiny. Photo:
Malloy campaign mailers under scrutiny.

The Dems’ lawyer objected—in writing—to the “leaking” of material to Lender. So, the party doesn’t want to give the SEEC what it’s looking for and wants the commission to shut up about it at the same time. Is this a case of “the best defense is a good offense” or is the party just giving the SEEC the big flip-off.

Meanwhile, the SEEC voted unanimously to have Attorney General George Jepsen’s office initiate legal action against the Dems. That puts Jepsen in the unenviable position of having to sue his former employer. Jepsen was chairman of the state Democratic Party from 2003 to 2004.