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Ansonia Officials Revise Campaign Finance Info

by Ethan Fry | Aug 28, 2017 6:16 pm

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Posted to: Ansonia, Ansonia Election 2017, Your Right To Know

Officials with both major political parties in Ansonia re-filed campaign financing reports after the Valley Indy pointed out they had submitted incomplete documents.

Mayor David Cassetti’s campaign did not include some information about two fundraisers it held in its latest round of disclosures. And Democrats didn’t submit some of their donors’ employment information, a violation of state law.

In the Democrats’ case, party officials said they’ve gone more than a decade without adhering to the disclosure requirements, but that they’d follow the law from now on.

Background

Under state law, candidates who form campaign committees and political parties have to file periodic disclosure reports about their fundraising activities.

The information is meant to give voters an idea who is bankrolling the campaigns of people running to make decisions on their behalf, as well as the political parties to which those candidates belong.

The rationale goes something like: Politicians have to spend money on campaigning for public office, so there should be some sort of disclosure about how and from whom that cash is coming from, according to a summary from the National Council of State Legislatures.

But in Ansonia, politicians from both sides of the aisle had information missing in their filings submitted July 10.

Democrats’ Filings Omitted Required Information

The city’s Democratic Town Committee’s disclosure filing didn’t list required information concerning some of their donors’ employment.

Under state law, anyone who donates more than $100 to a political committee over the course of a year must divulge where they work, so the committee itself can divulge that information in its disclosure reports.

Some parties, like the Ansonia Republicans, list the employment information of all their donors, regardless of whether they give at least $100.

The Democrats’ disclosure reports didn’t disclose the employment information concerning any of the people giving them money.

The Valley Indy sent e-mails to James Hubbard, the DTC’s treasurer, and Tarek Raslan, its candidate for mayor in this year’s elections, asking about the omission.

Hubbard initially said the committee didn’t have to reveal the information as long as no single contributor gives $100 or more in a single reporting period.

But the law says committees must report that information for any donors that give more than $100 “in the aggregate,” meaning throughout the year of the election. (Download a PDF explaining the law here.)

The party took in more than $100 from some donors within the reporting period without listing the required employment information.

After reaching out to state regulators, Hubbard said he hadn’t known the disclosure requirement existed, and had been filing reports without the necessary information since becoming the committee’s treasurer 15 years ago.

The Dems eventually re-filed disclosure reports for this year and 2016 listing the employment information for donors who gave at least $100, and said they’d continue to do so in the future.

“Thank you for bringing it to our attention,” Raslan said.

Overall, the Democrats raised $2,545 between April 1 and June 30, and had $4,872.37 on hand.

How Has This Been Going On So Long?

How did the Democrats break the rules for a decade and a half without anyone correcting them?

State election regulators said they simply can’t check every financing document filed by local parties.

“As a routine matter we don’t review town committee filings,” Joshua Foley, a spokesman for the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said.

The commission only has a handful of lawyers working on enforcing election law.

Unless someone files a complaint, they would probably be unaware of shortcomings in a particular committee’s disclosure reports.

In the case of the Ansonia Democrats, no complaints had been filed flagging their omission of donor employment information.

“Our policy is probably a resource-driven policy as much as anything else,” Foley said. “There’s no way we could review every single filing that comes before us. We get literally thousands of them every quarter.”

An exception, he said — candidates participating in the state’s new public campaign financing system, the Citizens’ Election Program, for statewide and general assembly candidates.

Foley said state election watchdogs need people at the local level to help keep an eye on municipal races.

Who Went To The Casinos With Cassetti?

Meanwhile, the campaign committee of Mayor David Cassetti raised $3,150 in contributions during the period covered by the July 10 report — April 1 to June 30.

The campaign also held two casino bus trip fundraisers — one to Foxwoods Resort Casino April 1 and another to Mohegan Sun June 10.

The forms for disclosing information about contributions includes a question asking if the specific contribution is associated with one of the fundraisers.

In the campaign’s original disclosure report, the forms listing the individual contributions said that none of the contributions were from the casino trips.

This wasn’t correct.

All the money raised from April 1 to June 30 came from the casino trips, according to campaign treasurer John Marini, the city’s corporation counsel, and assistant treasurer Sheila O’Malley, the city’s grants writer and economic development director.

The mayor’s campaign submitted corrected documents after The Valley Indy asked why the campaign went to the casino but didn’t raise money.

Marini said the first disclosure report omitted the details because “it didn’t seem to be the type of fundraiser that was regulated by the form.”

“If you read the form, it asks questions about the kind of fundraiser you had. But if you take a look at the type of fundraiser we had, it doesn’t fit into any of those pieces, any of those categories,” he said.

“In the interest of reporting we called it a fundraiser, but we knew we basically just received donations,” Marini said. “There were no in-kind contributions, it wasn’t one of those categories that causes them concern to track specifically.”

The campaign eventually filed a new disclosure report July 25 listing with which fundraiser each contribution was associated in order, Marini said, to clear up any confusion.

It was the second straight quarter the mayor’s campaign filed a new report to correct a disclosure oversight.

Also . . .

Of the $3,150 raised by Cassetti during the time covered by the report, two-thirds of it — $2,100 — was from current city employees.

The Valley Indy asked the mayor whether he was concerned it could give a bad impression that several people whom he had hired had donated to his campaign war chest.

“Absolutely not,” Cassetti said. “They want to donate.”

But he said not all the city employees that donated to his campaign went on the bus to the casino.

Those who did, according to the mayor: Marini, the corporation counsel; O’Malley, the grants writer/economic development director; Anna Andretta, who works in the finance department; Marsha Benno, the city’s assessor; and Judy Larkin-Nicolari, the city’s treasurer, which is an elected position.

Cassetti pointed out that in former administrations city employees donated to incumbent mayors’ re-election campaigns.

“I don’t think that’s a problem,” he said.

The following donations were made to “Cassetti For Mayor 2017” between April 1 and June 30, according to the campaign’s disclosure form:

Name
Town of residence
Profession
Contribution, date
(Total contributions for 2017, if applicable)

Anna Andretta
Ansonia
Account Tech, City of Ansonia
$100 May 17
$50 May 18
$90 April 1
($290)

Patricia Fers
Ansonia
Retired
$50 April 1
$50 April 1
($100)

Chicago Rivers
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$50 April 1
($100)

John Marini
Ansonia
Attorney, City of Ansonia/Berchem, Moses & Devlin
$1,000 April 3

Sheila O’Malley
Oakville
Economic Development Director, City of Ansonia
$100 May 9
$200 June 8
($350)

Paul Renee
Shelton
Administrative assistant, New England Consulting Group
$100 April 3

Kathleen Dorsey
Ansonia
Administrative assistant, Bridgeport City Employees Credit Union
$50 June 3
($150)

Frank DeLibero
Ansonia
Retired
$500 April 3

Richard Dziekan
Derby
Retired
$100 April 20

Marsha Benno
Ansonia
Assessor, City of Ansonia
$100 May 31
($200)

Irving Reed
Ansonia
Quality Operations, Materials Testing
$50 June 1
($100)

Marlene Dziekan
Derby
Retired
$50 April 10

Ester Dziekan
Derby
Retired
$50 June 10

Joseph Cassetti
Ansonia
Retired
$50 June 1
($100)

James Prestiano
Ansonia
Retired
$25 June 1

John Izzo
Ansonia
Realtor, Coldwell Banker
$100 June 1
($200)

Morris DiGiorgi
Englewood, FL
Retired
$250 May 19

Judy Larkin-Nicolari
Ansonia
Treasurer, City of Ansonia
$50 May 1
($100)

Isabella Andretta
Ansonia
Discharge Analyst, Griffin Hospital
$50 June 6
($100)

Ronda Porrini
Bristol
Land use director, City of Ansonia
$200 May 18

Cristina Molina
Shelton
Mayor’s Assistant, City of Ansonia
$60 June 9
($110)

Lorie Vaccaro
Ansonia
Retired
$100 June 8

Patricia Burns
Milford
Retired
$100 June 10

Donald Smith Jr.
Seymour
Engineer, self-employed
$100 June 7

Mary Raines-Skala
Shepherdstown, WV
Retired
$150 June 8

David Connelly
Ansonia
IT Director, City of Ansonia
$40 May 9

David Elder
Farmington
City planner, self-employed
$25 June 7

Jared Heon
Ansonia
ARMS Director, City of Ansonia
$50 June 7

Greg Martin
Ansonia
Director of Constituent Services, City of Ansonia
$60 June 9

John Rak
New Haven
Insurance broker, self-employed
$50 June 9

The following people donated to the Ansonia Republican Town Committee between April 1 and June 30:

Irving Reed
Ansonia
Quality control manager, Materials Testing
$250 May 6

John Izzo
Ansonia
Regional property manager, Owens, Renzi Lee
$100 May 6

The following people donated to the Ansonia Democratic Town Committee between April 1 and June 30:

Edith Behrle
Ansonia
Retired
$50 April 27
$60 April 27
$50 May 18
($160)

Horace Behrle
Ansonia
Retired
$50 April 27
$50 May 18
($100)

Fran DiGiorgi
Ansonia
Retired
$100 April 27
$30 April 27
($130)

Shane Edmonds
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$10 April 27
($60)

Marcia Bilodeau
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$90 April 27

Kevin Blake
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Madeline Bottone
Ansonia
Retired
$30 April 27
$100 May 18
($130)

Thomas Clifford
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$50 April 27

Jo Lynn Flaherty
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$60 April 27

James Hubbard
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Joan Lawlor
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27
$25 June 16
($55)

Elizabeth Maffeo
Ansonia
Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway
$30 April 27
($130)

Elizabeth Lynch
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$90 April 27

William Phipps
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Carmen Pitney
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$60 April 27

Tarek Raslan
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Rita St. Jacques
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27
$30 April 27
$50 May 18
($110)

Milagros Rios
Ansonia
Office manager, H&R Block
$30 April 27
$100 June 8
($130)

Cathleen Venson
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Francis Teodosio
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$60 April 27

Estelle Sharkey
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$60 April 27

Clifford P. Hoyle
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$100 April 27

Geraldine Griffin
Derby
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

John Sponheimer
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Sean Rowley
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

James Sheehy
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

James Tanner
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Tara Kolakowski
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Linda Gentile
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$30 April 27

Kay Jeanette
Ansonia
Court clerk, State of Connecticut
$120 April 27

Clifford D. Hoyle
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$90 April 27

Lynda Supp
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$60 April 27

Edward Allen
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$100 May 18

Jason St. Jacques
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$50 May 18

James Malloy
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$50 June 16

Roy Vacca
Ansonia
No occupation listed
$100 June 26

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