Despite protests from Republican frontrunner Tom Foley’s campaign, the State Elections Enforcement Commission on Thursday approved a $2.18 million grant for Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.

An attorney for the Foley campaign objected to Fedele and Boughton’s joint application, claiming that only the endorsed candidate is allowed to form a joint committee.

“It would seem from this plain statutory language that a Joint Gubernatorial Committee may be formed only by party-endorsed candidates,” Charles Spies, the Foley campaign’s attorney, wrote in a July 6 letter to the SEEC’s lawyers.

Stephen Cashman, chairman of the SEEC, said the request for the legal opinion gave him pause.

“I had reservations about the necessity of moving forward given the concerns,” Cashman said at Thursday’s meeting. But after discussions, he said he was “satisfied with the advisory opinion as written which contemplates this procedure.”

He also said he gives credit to the Fedele-Boughton campaign for relying on the advisory opinion in order to file their application.

According to Beth Rotman, executive director of the Citizens’ Election Program, the Fedele campaign brought in an estimated $220,000 and the Boughton campaign brought in about $40,000, which combined put it over the $250,000 benchmark for the qualifying grant. A supplemental grant of $937,500 also was given to the campaign because Foley’s April filing showed he had already raised $2.4 million.

“Qualifying for the clean elections program means our campaign will now have the resources to compete with our wealthy self-funding opponents in the primary and against whoever emerges as the Democrat standard-bearer in August,” Fedele said.

“With our fundraising effort completed, we are excited to dedicate all our time and energy to listening to and learning from Connecticut voters who are eager for reform,” Boughton said.

In addition to the grant to the Fedele-Boughton campaign, the commission also approved grants to Denise Merrill’s campaign for Secretary of the State, and 12 other General Assembly candidates.  The commission has awarded grants to 45 candidates for the General Assembly and four to statewide committees.

Click here to read our report from earlier today.