New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Democrats File SEEC Complaint Against Mayor


Democratic Town Chairman Bill Shortell filed a complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Commission on Wednesday (September 13) alleging use of public funds by Mayor Erin Stewart to promote her candidacy for re-election.

Shortell, cited a state law barring incumbents from using city funds to promote candidacies close to an election. He filed the complaint in response to a brochure included in motor vehicle tax bills mailed at the beginning of September by City Tax Collector Cheryl Blogoslawski.

The brochure, giving tax and revenue information on the 2017-2018 municipal budget, also included statements promoting Stewart’s candidacy under her campaign slogan “Leading the Way” with information from Stewart’s campaign literature. Blogoslawski is also cited in the complaint for sending the brochure with the tax bills.

Shortell said he bases the complaint on state law (9-610) that bars an incumbent from using city resources “to mail or print flyers or other promotional materials” intended to advance a candidacy within “three months of an election” and “prohibits any individual from authorizing the use of public funds during the 12 months preceding an election for any promotional campaign or advertisement that features the name, face or voice of a candidate.

“No one questions the mayor’s responsibility to communicate with residents on matters of importance to the community throughout the term,” said Shortell. “But including an obvious campaign promotion in car tax bills within the 90-day prohibition pushes the incumbent advantage too far and is a violation. It crosses the line and creates an unfair advantage. The law expressly prohibits incumbents from doing what the Mayor and Tax Collector did.”

A similar complaint was made against Former Mayor Tim O’Brien during his term by the Republican party several years ago.

“The tax bills were prepared months ago and delayed because our Democratic governor and Democratic delegation have been unable to pass a budget,” said Tony Cane, Republican town chairman. “Rather than issue another tax bill if the state had cut funds, the mayor delayed these bills”

“We have also filed or are in the process of filing complaints about the mayor’s illegal use of City Hall and its resources, including video equipment for her sagging re-election campaign. In addition, we are filing a complaint about a large campaign billboard that has remained on Main Street for three years, with no campaign expenditure cited, an illegal campaign contribution amount to thousands of dollars,” Shortell added.

Cane did not comment on the second complaint.

But, Justin Dorsey, Stewart’s campaign manager said the allegations are nonsense.

“The Democratic party needs to stop deflecting from the fact that their candidate is part of the Malloy administration and the state budget chaos,” said Dorsey. “These silly accusations are a waste of time. Mayor Stewart is trying to lead and fight for the residents of New Britain and will continue to do so.”

A few weeks ago Cane filed an SEEC complaint against a firm hired by Merrill Gay the Democratic candidate for Mayor. Democratic candidate Bobby Barriault also filed an SEEC complaint against Stewart.