Republican transparency the issue as Linehan, three other Connecticut Democratic candidates, targeted by "dirty money"
Transparency has typically never been a high priority for Republicans and the latest example is hitting us at home here in Connecticut.
On Wednesday at a press conference, Representative Liz Linehan of Cheshire and other Connecticut democratic candidates for the state House of Representatives announced the filing of an elections complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Commission concerning unreported national money from the past two months being used to target the candidates' individual campaigns in their hometowns.
Linehan and other Democrats stated that the complaint was filed because it was learned that a Connecticut “independent expenditure” political committee, funded by national Republicans, that has illegally spent more than $77,000 to target at four Democratic candidates - possibly more - for the state House.
According to a spokesperson at the press conference, the complaint involves two main components. The lack of transparency due to the lack of identifying the candidates the expenditures are benefitting and the lack of timely reporting of the expenditures.
According to a prepared statement from Linehan's office, Change Connecticut was formed in May and funded by $400,000 in donations from the Washington DC-based Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). Change Connecticut not only failed to report its expenditures as prescribed by law, they also omitted naming the candidates that the money was intended to benefit per statute.
According to a report filed with the SEEC on June 30, Change Connecticut paid Percipient Strategies of DC $77,669 for “research dossiers” on June 29. Percipient began their “research” at least three weeks earlier in the form of public records requests to local police departments, town halls, and registrars of voters.
These requests targeted Linehan on June 21, Michael Winkler of Vernon on June 13, Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin on June 19 and 21, and Phil Young of Stratford before June 26.
"The interesting part here is we are talking about dirty money and not knowing where it came from," Linehan said. "I am interested in knowing what they are trying to find out. They looked for 20 years of police records with my name on it.
"So when we are talking about dirty money we're also talking about dirty politics. And that's not okay."
In a prepared statement, Linehan also said, “Let’s be clear about what’s happening. There was $77,000 paid to a Washington D.C. firm, whose principals were employed by the Republican National Committee and the Trump White House, to interfere with my campaign. Big corporate money and outside influence should not have a say in who Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford residents elect as their state representative. I work hard for my constituents, and answer only to them, so they are the only ones who deserve a say."
“Gathering this type of information is fair game in a campaign," Aresimowicz said. "But you can’t just ignore the law leaving the public in the dark about who is operating in their community, how much they are spending and for who’s benefit.
"Residents might find it interesting, maybe offensive, to learn there is a national partisan political group working to influence elections in their town.”
According to a press release from Linehan's office, the RSLC is predominately funded by large corporate interests including Koch Industries and the family of Education Secretary Betsy Devos. RSLC donated $350,000 in 2016 to Grow CT for use against Democratic legislative candidates. Other reported 2016 donations included $15,000 from Linda McMahon who is serving as Administrator of the Small Business Administration in the Trump administration.
Linehan's office has confirmed that a formal complaint outlining the illegal campaign activity by Change Connecticut has been filed with SEEC.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.