CTNewsJunkie file photo
Dr. William A. Petit Jr. outside his home in October criticizing the ad campaign (CTNewsJunkie file photo)

Labor United for Connecticut, the independent expenditure group that came under fire for its attack ads targeting Republicans, terminated its organization and refunded $109,384 to its member unions.

In October, the group came under attack for a series of digital ads that were harshly criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The ad campaign tried to tie candidates for the state legislature to Republican Donald Trump and asked them to stop “attacks on women and families.” The ad, which targeted a dozen Republican candidates, was especially offensive to Dr. William A. Petit Jr., whose wife and two daughters were brutally murdered in 2007 during a home invasion. Petit ended up winning the seat, helping Republicans pick up eight seats in the house and shrinking the Democratic majority to 79-72.

The Labor United for Connecticut ad campaign was pulled Oct. 26 and never resumed, according to filings with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Citing its inability to coordinate with an independent expenditure group, the Service Employees International Union which was affiliated with Labor United for Connecticut said it was not made aware of the ad campaign before it aired. Paul Filson, executive director of the SEIU Connecticut State Council, resigned on Oct. 27 as a result of the ad campaign and public pressure. Even union coalitions like the AFL-CIO were critical of the ads. 

SEIU declined comment last week on the decision to terminate the group and refund the money.

The group, which formed in September, had raised about $198,000 for the 2016 election, mostly from other union organizations.

In the House, the group was opposing Petit, Tom Delnicki, Andrew Falvey, and Reps. Gary Byron, Kathleen McCarty, John Scott, Aundre Bumgardner, Sam Belsito, Scott Storms, Cara Pavalock, Mitch Bolinsky and Charles Ferraro. In the Senate, the group opposed Heather Somers.

In the House, the group was also spending money supporting Rep. Elizabeth “Betty” Boukus, who lost the race to Petit and died Dec. 2. The group was also supporting House candidates Saud Anwar, Joshua Shulman, Sharon Palmer, Christine Conley, Joe De La Cruz, Susan Eastwood, Tim Curtis, Laura Bartok, Liz Linehan, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, and Sean Ronan. In the Senate, the group was supporting Timothy Bowles, who lost his contest to Somers, and Sen. Mae Flexer.