But it was the Meriden Republicans who should have known better, according Jeffrey Garfield, executive director at the state Elections Enforcement Commission.
Congresswoman Nancy Johnson’s (R-5th) federal campaign committee broke state election law when it bought $200 in advertising space from the Meriden Republican Town Committee, according to a consent order approved by the state Elections Enforcement Commission last week.State law prohibits any entity besides a business from buying over $50 in ad books. Johnson’s campaign made the purchase last december for the RTC’s annual Christmas fundraiser. Daniel Pullium, chairman of the Torrington Democratic Town Committee and a state Senate Democratic staffer, filed the elections complaint against Johnson’s campaign in May.The EEC did not fine Johnson’s campaign, however, instead levying a $150 fine against the RTC’s treasurer. The Meriden Republicans must also refund $150 of the donation, which represents the amount of money donated by Johnson’s campaign that exceeded the legal limit, said Jeffrey Garfield, executive director at the state Elections Enforcement Commission.“The commission takes the position that there is more responsibility on the recipient [of a contribution] to ensure what payments he or she takes complies with the law,” Garfield said.Since Johnson’s campaign mainly deals with federal election law, and the Meriden Republicans interact with state law on a day to day basis, it is the Meriden RTC which “should have known better,” Garfield said, adding that Johnson’s treasurer “clearly relied” on the advice of the RTC’s treasurer.A separate elections complaint against the Johnson campaign for giving money to the Danbury Republican Town Committee is still pending, Garfield said. State law prohibits a federal candidate committee from giving money to a state entity, unless as a $50 adbook purchase.Though campaign finance reports reflect the Danbury contributions, such practices are not exclusive to Johnson- former Congressman James Maloney’s campaign made a $100 contribution to the Danbury Democratic Town Committee in 2002.