Matt DeRienzo photo
The Working Families Party has filed a Federal Elections Commission complaint against Republican 5th District congressional candidate Mark Greenberg after a Hartford Courant story reported that his real estate company had been providing his campaign an office rent-free.

Greenberg’s campaign treasurer, Ken Nowell, told the Courant that failure to pay rent was an honest mistake that was rectified after a reporter pointed it out.

But in its complaint, the Working Families Party alleges that even with the back rent payments covered, Greenberg is violating campaign finance laws. It claims that the “fair market rent” on the campaign headquarters being used in a Greenberg-owned building in Watertown is more than double what the campaign committee is paying.

The Working Families Party has endorsed and is working to support the re-election of Greenberg’s opponent, incumbent first-term Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.

“Mr. Greenberg is using his perks as a real estate mogul and blatantly disregarding the campaign finance laws we have in place,” said Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party. “Working and middle class families can’t enter into ‘loose arrangements’ and pay only 23 percent of their monthly rent. Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to either.”

Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said “it was Esty who had to return thousands of dollars in tainted campaign donations from Connecticut utility companies.”

“Elizabeth Esty and her surrogates like the Working Families Party will do anything to distract attention from her atrocious record in Congress, including the filing of baseless claims designed to turn the subject away from her voting record and her disastrous policies that have wrecked our economy,” he said. “Elizabeth Esty continues to avoid talking about her real record, instead tossing bombs through her spokesperson or surrogate organizations.  She continues to wage a campaign built on lies and distortions – as independent news organizations have pointed out.”

The FEC complaint is unlikely to be resolved before the election, which is a week and a half away.

In addition to owning the building that his campaign is using, Greenberg, a multimillionaire, is funding most of his campaign’s expenses. He is, in effect, donating money to his campaign in order to pay rent to himself.

Matt DeRienzo is the editor of the Center for Public Integrity.

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