The State Elections Enforcement Commission has issued subpoenas to the Democratic State Central Committee as it investigates the committee using money from a federal fund to pay for a mailer benefiting Gov. Dannel Malloy’s re-election race.
The subpoenas, obtained by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, request any documents and communications dating back to Jan. 1, 2013 relating to how and/or why any of the DSCC’s federal bank accounts were segregated, all “electioneering or get-out-the-vote communications featuring the Governor” paid from the federal bank account, copies of any and all solicitations for contributions to the federal account, all documents and communications that identify the solicitors of contributions over $1,000 received by the DSCC for the federal account, including those solicited by the Governor.
The Democratic State Central Committee said the mailers were a get-out-the-vote effort, while state Republicans argue they were designed to help with the governor’s re-election campaign.
The subpoena asks for any documents or communications related to meetings held by former Democratic Party Director Jonathan Harris with either Governor Malloy, his campaign manager Jonathan Blair, Malloy chief-of-staff Mark Ojakian and former advisor Roy Occhiogrosso, as well as any polls conducted during the 2014 election for Connecticut Governor paid by the state committee.
The subpoenas, made out to the DSCC’s Keeper of Records, set a hearing for June 12 at 2 p.m. at the SEEC’s Hartford offices.
The investigation began following a complaint by Republican State Party Chair Jerry Labriola in March 2014.
"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 in a statement.
He called the use of the funds a blatant attempt to circumvent state laws. The State GOP filed a lawsuit against Malloy last October. A judge threw out the lawsuit, citing the pending SEEC investigation as one of the reasons.
Both the SEEC and Common Cause of Connecticut objected to the use of money from the federal account last year.
At the time, SEEC officials accused the Democrats of trying to circumvent the state's campaign financing law, passed in the wake of the Rowland corruption scandal.
The Clean Elections program sets aside a limited amount of money to spend on statewide and legislative races, removing donations from specials interest groups, state contractors and lobbyists.
Candidates qualify by accepting donations of no more than $100. The federal election account allows contributions from state contractors.
NBC Connecticut reached out to Gov. Malloy's office for comment and they referred us to the state central committee.
The Democratic State Central Committee insists the mailers are legal and that their attorneys said well before Election Day that they must use federal funds for get out the vote mailers.
The state central committee added that it has tried to get an opinion from the state elections enforcement commission, which has refused.
The subpoenas the state elections enforcement commission served on the Democratic State Central Committee came a day after the committee asked a judge to intervene and force the state elections enforcement commission to rule on the legality of the mailers.