NORWALK, Conn. – The first complaint has been filed in Norwalk’s just-started mayoral race, one day after Republican Mayor Richard Moccia ended the speculation and announced that he would run for re-election.
Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Art Scialabba has filed a complaint with the State Election Enforcement Commission against Norwalk Democratic mayoral hopeful Vinny Mangiacopra for violation of General Statutes § 9-621(b)(1), according to a press release. Mangiacopra did not properly attribute the video he released to the public Tuesday, Scialabba said.
“If you are running for the highest political office in the city, you have no excuse for not knowing or following the laws,” Scialabba said in the release.
Mangiacopra is one of three Democrats who are officially working to become their party’s nominee to run against Moccia. Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling has also expressed interest.
“Mr. Scialabba is up to his old tricks again,” Mangiacopra said in an email. “Is he filing this complaint on behalf of the RTC or the Moccia campaign?”
The video, a 30-second loop on Vine.co, a Twitter app that was introduced in January, contrasts a laptop computer showing an image of “Mangiacopra for Mayor” and his website address, NorwalksFutureNow, with a 1977 photo of Moccia and the words “Over 36 years in.”
The statute specifies that a clearly identifiable photo or image of the candidate must be included in the video, and a statement identifying the candidate and his approval of the message must appear along with an audio announcement that he approved the video. It also must feature the candidate’s name and voice.
The video is silent – therefore no voice. Mangiacopra said Tuesday night, “No audio. Things were a lot different in 1977.
Mangiacopra’s image isn’t in the actual video, but is posted in the static area to the right of the moving image. There is no statement that Mangiacopra approved the image.
Mangiacopra said Vine is a modern, valuable social media tool used similar to Instagram and Twitter. “Never in my years in politics have I seen a tweet or other post with a ‘paid for by’ required,” he said in an email. “The statute referred to in this complaint by the Moccia Campaign and RTC discusses Internet advertising, television and web advertising – not social media. We’ve been in contact with the SEEC too; if they advise us to put a ‘paid for by’ on it, we certainly will.”
Scialabba said the alleged violation of campaign laws shows that Mangiacopra, who has worked in the Bridgeport mayor’s office and was the town of Monroe’s economic and community development coordinator for four years, is not ready to be mayor.
“Clearly Vinny’s inexperience shows that he is not ready for prime time,” Scialabba said in the release. “He needs to learn that we must all play by the same rules, and therefore he needs to remove his video immediately since it is not compliant with CT Election Laws.”
The complaint validates the meaning of the video, Mangiacopra said.
“This is a frivolous attempt by the same folks, to talk about nonsense,” he said in an email. “Our community needs help and the approach they have is outdated. While the governor is making his budget presentation today, our mayor and his party boss are in his office worried about social media content. There are bigger issues facing our city and they need urgency and advocacy immediately.”
It won’t fly, he said.
“People are tired of these kind of gimmicks and attacks,” he said. “The message of this video has never been more apt. If we want forward thinking and innovative ideas they won’t come from this administration. They just react and attack. My campaign welcomes a discussion on the issues of the campaign instead of these same old tactics.”