Concerned with former Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano’s handling of the election process this past November, a group of Wesleyan students plan to protest outside the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s offices Tuesday.
Late last week it was announced that the commission planned to hire Giuliano, a Republican, as its executive director and general counsel. The commission will vote on his nomination on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
The news that Giuliano was chosen to head the agency, which oversees election complaints and public financing, surprised Wesleyan students who feel Giuliano led the effort to make sure they didn’t vote in the recent municipal election.
Giuliano lost his re-election bid to Democrat Dan Drew.
The students plan on filing a formal complaint against Giuliano with the commission for the misinformation his campaign was spreading regarding their ability to vote in the recent election. They say Giuliano appeared on campus to tell students “erroneously” that they could be prevented from voting if they did not appear in person at the Registrar of Voters Office prior to the election.
Mansoor Alam, a Wesleyan student, said basically Giuliano was trying to tell about 500 Wesleyan students that they couldn’t vote in the 2011 election.
According to Alam, approximately 500 Wesleyan students registered to vote using their campus mailbox as their residential address – something Wesleyan students have traditionally been permitted to do – this practice was suddenly challenged, along with the legitimacy of these students’ ability to vote.
Alam said the legitimacy of the students’ vote was clarified in a letter from the secretary of state’s office.
“The mission of Elections Enforcement is to ‘ensure the integrity of the state’s electoral process.’ But given the evidence that the former mayor has undermined that very process during his recent campaign, this would be a case of the fox guarding the henhouse,” Ben Florsheim, another Wesleyan student, said in a press release.
SEEC Chairman Stephen Cashman did not return calls for comment Monday, but has previously said he has every confidence in Giuliano’s ability to lead the agency.
“We believe he is the right guy for the job,” Cashman said in a press release last week announcing Giuliano as its pick to head the agency. Giuliano was one of four finalists for the position. Sources say none of the other three finalists were recently elected officials.
It would be the first time in the commission’s history that a partisan, instead of a seasoned state employee headed the agency.
Late last week, state Sen. Gayle S. Slossberg and Rep. Russ Morin, co-chairs of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee, urged members of the commission to reconsider appointing a partisan, fresh off the campaign trail to the position.
In order to sit on the commission “you have to have a three year cooling off period,” Morin said Monday. So while there may not be anything specific in legislation to prevent a partisan from becoming executive director, the standard applies to the commission which helps oversee the agency.
“This guy just came off of a real partisan, nasty election,” Morin said.
He said he‘s not saying Giuliano doesn‘t have integrity or isn‘t capable of doing the job, but “the guy‘s going to be overseeing something that gives grants and has the power to investigate anybody that they think might be using funds incorrectly.”
“I just don’t believe somebody fresh out of a partisan position should hold that position,” Morin said. “It wouldn’t matter who it was.”
Morin, a Democrat, said if it had been a Democrat fresh off the campaign trail he would feel the same way.