State Elections Enforcement Commission Taking a Look at Robocalls
The State Elections Enforcement Commission is moving forward with an investigation into a complaint filed by Dwight Blint against Mayor Tim O’Brien that he illegally made robocalls within three months of an election.
The call was made to residents of New Britain on Aug. 24 inviting them to the 16th Annual Substance Free Family Day. Although a second call occurred Sept. 13 inviting residents to Oktoberfest, the SEEC is investigating the Aug. 24 call, said an SEEC representative.
“He used the robocall system within 90 days of the election and that is against the rules,” said Blint. “If it wasn’t against the rules, the SEEC would not even investigate it.”
But, they have chosen to despite Fernando Marroquin, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, calling the complaint “frivolous” in a Herald article last month.
At that time according to the Herald, Maroquin said. “The mayor was told by elections enforcement a long time ago that the statute does not apply to his calls.”
But, on Sept. 18 the SEEC had a meeting and determined the complaint merited additional information. It has been assigned to an investigator.
“If proven true that he made such a phone call, it is in violation,” said Blint, who has a copy of the call.
“When they made the call for Oktoberfest they knew there was a complaint, but the complaint had not moved forward at that point,” said Blint. “They (O’Brien’s office) claimed it wasn’t illegal. Essentially what the state is saying is that the action, if true, is illegal.”
“As leaders of their communities, mayors are supposed to communicate with their constituents,” Marroquin said in an article last month in the Herald. “The mayor was inviting his constituents to bring their children to a substance-free family day. He was using a nonemergency community notification system.”
There is a gag order on the New Britain City Journal so no direct comment on the issue is available from the Mayor’s Office.
“I’m happy that someone is going to say something to him (O’Brien). With the ethics commission in town so rigged you can’t get anything done,” said Blint. “The key thing is that he stop getting an unfair advantage by using City resources. He needs to fund his campaign and run his campaign out of his own pocket not through taxpayer’s pockets.”
Blint said a number of other complaints will soon be filed including two no-bid contracts that O’Brien gave to Global Strategic Strategies (GSG) and David Pudlin.
O’Brien claimed it was an emergency situation that called for a public relations firm to be hired (GSG) for $100,000 in order to help the City fight blight. It was not approved by contract and no bids went out in order to hire a firm with the best costs.
GSG is run by Ray Ochiogrosso who previously worked for Gov. Dannel Malloy.
O’Brien previously worked for Pudlin as his aide when he was a state representative and is being paid a monthly fee for consulting services. So far he has been paid over $35,000 by taxpayer dollars.