The Connecticut Democratic Party is trying a different approach to avoid complying with a subpoena issued by state election regulators by asking a court to end the State Election Enforcement’s investigation into a mailings sent during the 2014 campaign.
It’s the second lawsuit filed against the State Elections Enforcement Commission by the Democratic Party. The first was an administrative appeal filed on May 27. In that lawsuit, the Democratic Party argued that the SEEC should rule on whether federal election law preempts state election law when it comes to the mailers featuring Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne filed a motion to dismiss the administrative appeal on July 23. She argues in that motion that the Democratic Party can’t challenge the SEEC’s decision not to provide a declaratory ruling because it’s not a “final decision.”
The lawsuit served Monday on the SEEC is similar to the one filed on May 27.
“A technical question of whether this case should be considered an administrative appeal or a declaratory action has been raised, and this will avoid procedural delays and make sure we get a ruling as quickly as possible,” Leigh Appleby, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said.
In its latest motion, the Democratic Party is seeking a declaratory judgment “determining that Connecticut’s campaign finance laws … are preempted by federal law with respect to the funding of ‘Federal election activity,’ including voter registration and GOTV activities, when those activities relate to an election in which a federal candidate is on the ballot, even where materials used in furtherance of those activities do not refer to a candidate for federal office, and even though those materials only refer to a candidate for state office.”
A spokesman at the State Elections Enforcement Commission confirmed it had been served, but declined comment. The agency has been asking the Democratic Party for the past 10 months to comply with its investigation into a complaint filed by the Republican Party.
The Republican Party alleges that the Democratic Party’s federal account, which can receive state contractor funds, should not have been used to pay for mailings featuring mostly Malloy and a small get-out-the-vote message. State law prohibits state contractors from contributing to candidates for state office.
In June, the Democratic Party’s attorney David Golub, told election regulators that it wouldn’t comply with their subpoena requesting information to help them complete their investigation into the Republican Party’s complaint.
Like the administrative appeal, the request for a declaratory judgment asks that regulators decide whether federal election law preempts state election law when it comes to the mailings.
Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano said the Connecticut Democratic Party’s attempts not to comply with the subpoena are “disturbing” and “disheartening.”
“It’s disheartening that Connecticut Democrats are literally doing everything they can to not answer to a regulatory agency. It’s frightening. Why even have rules?” Romano said.