(Updated) Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura equated Kevin Lembo’s race to qualify for public funds to a basketball game.
“It’s like a basketball game – the buzzer goes off and that’s it,” Jarjura said in Hartford Superior Court Friday.
Jarjura, who filed an injunction against Lembo and the State Elections Enforcement Commission Friday afternoon, is running against Lembo in the Aug. 10 Democratic primary for state comptroller.
Lembo was allowed to continue to fundraise to meet the $75,000 threshold even after last week’s deadline, Jarjura said.
Hartford Superior Court Judge James Graham held a meeting Friday with attorneys in the case and asked them to return to court Monday at 2 p.m. for a hearing in the matter. Meanwhile, Lembo has agreed only to spend $30,000 of the $375,000 public grant he received this morning. Jarjura also qualified for the $375,000 in public funds and has spent some of the money on two mailers.
Beth Rotman, executive director of the Citizens’ Election Program, said every candidate was given a “cure” period to make sure they qualified for the funds.
Since Jarjura raised an issue about the funds Lembo raised in his exploratory campaign and whether they should be counted toward the $75,000, the State Elections Enforcement Commission allowed Lembo to go out and raise an additional $6,000 buffer. Jarjura said that’s like taking a shot at the buzzer in a basketball game.
Rotman disagreed. She said all the campaigns were given an opportunity to go back out and raise money if they felt they may not have enough qualifying contributions to meet the threshold. The period they have to do this depends on when they filed the application. She said since Lembo filed on the last possible day he didn’t have much time to come up with the additional funds.
“If the Mayor of Waterbury wants to spend the public dollars of his campaign grant on lawyers and lawsuits, that is his choice,” Lembo said in an emailed statement. “I am confident that our fundraising and our application complied completely with the law, and we will continue to talk to the voters of Connecticut about the issues that are most important to them – balancing our state budget and getting our economy back on the right track.”