The Connecticut Democratic Party wants to make sure Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina wasn’t prejudiced by what the head of the State Elections Enforcement Committee said about pending legislation.
State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi told the General Administration and Elections Committee last week that he doesn’t know how proposed changes to how parties operate got into a bill proposed by his agency. Brandi said there’s language in H.B. 5511 that lays a path for the circumvention of Connecticut’s campaign finance rules.
Brandi questioned why language changing the definition of a party committee was added to the legislation at a time when issues surrounding what a party can and can’t do with respect to federal election activity is central to the agency’s attempt to enforce a subpoena on the state Democratic Party.
Attorney David Golub, who represents the Connecticut Democratic Party, told the court in a letter Wednesday that Brandi attempted to imply that the state Democratic Party or someone from the governor’s office made the change to the legislation.
“The charge is inaccurate in every respect: the challenged textual change would, if adopted, have no effect on any of the issues pending [before] you and no one connected with the Democratic Party (or the Governor’s Office) was involved in making or suggesting the challenged textual change,” Golub wrote.
Golub said it was the nonpartisan Legislative Commissioner’s Office that made the change.
He said the implication made by Brandi during a public hearing was “wholly unfounded.”
In his letter to the court, Golub requested a conference to see if both parties could reach a voluntary agreement with the state regarding public comments about the litigation.
“We do not know whether you, personally, have been apprised of Attorney Brandi’s comments, and we have complete faith in your ability to rule fairly on the issues presented in this case,” Golub said. “It is, however, our view that, any suggestion that one party to an action is attempting to rig the outcomes is improper and, especially when it comes from a government attorney, has an imprimatur of authority that increases the potential for prejudice, even in non-jury matters.”
Golub said this is not the first time that Brandi has “made inflammatory comments about this litigation” where he described the case as a “direct challenge to [the] survival” of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.”
Robaina has not issued a ruling yet in the case. He has 120 days from closing arguments, which were made on Dec. 2, 2015, to issue a decision. However, he can always request an extension.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission wants the court to allow it to enforce a subpoena for information related to several 2014 mailings featuring Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that were paid for by the Democratic Party’s federal account. That same federal account can accept money from state contractors, who are banned from giving money to candidates for state office under Connecticut’s clean election laws.