A complaint was filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission that Mayor Tim O’Brien used City resources to help in his re-election campaign.
Former Republican Town Chairman Dwight Blint said he filed a complaint Wednesday afternoon because O’Brien used a City paid robocall system to send a message out Friday, Aug. 23 concerning an event happening on Saturday. Twice O’Brien used his name to promote himself during the phone call.
“O’Brien was in violation of a section of the enforcement by using the City reverse 911 system to make non-essential community announcements,” said Blint. “There is a provision that says once you are within three months of an election there are certain restrictions on your voice and face. He knows this as I believe he voted for this law (as a state representative).
The law reads, “No incumbent holding office shall, during the three months preceding an election in which he is a candidate for reelection or election to another office, use public funds to mail or print flyers or other promotional materials intended to bring about his election or reelection.”
If O’Brien is in violation he could face a fine and be forced to reimburse the City costs.
“It is made so that he does not use City resources to fund his campaign,” said Blint. “He has already used $130,000 to pay political consultants and now he wants to use City resources to make announcements that promote himself. That is not fair to other candidates which is why the law exists. You want everyone to be on a level playing field.”
City officials have previously claimed calls are not made using a reverse 911 system.
“It doesn’t matter what system it is,” said Blint. “He still can’t use City funds to make that phone call. The law pretty much outlines what you can’t do.”
For about one year O’Brien has made phone call across the City informing residents of events. Sometimes these taped phone calls happened two days in a row.
Residents have complained and asked O’Brien to stop the calls, but they have continued.
Residents said such things as:
“It is at the point where I say ‘Oh, well’ and don’t answer the phone,” said Eleanor Riggott. “I would hate it if I didn’t know about an emergency.”
“I feel that it should only be used in cases of emergency, missing children or elderly, not for routine events,” said Mark Zenobi. “There is enough coverage on festivals, parades etc. that the robo system not need to be used.”
“Use the system for what it’s supposed to be used for emergency situations,” said Kate Splettstoeszer Howard.
“I see it’s from the city and don’t answer,” said Mike Fitzpatrick. “Most of the time I click on and off so it stops. It’s a waste of time and money.”
“Unless its an emergency or a missing person, I don’t want any other calls on the robo system,” said Jessica Koch.
There is a gag order on the New Britain City Journal from the Mayor’s Office preventing any response from O’Brien.