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Camacho accuses Brinton campaign of violating state law

This listing in a Brinton for Norwalk campaign finance filing is part of the evidence offered by Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho to the State Elections and Enforcement Commission (SEEC) in a complaint filed Friday. The form was filled out by Bryan Meek, a Board of Education member seeking reelection.

The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. — Ed Camacho has filed a complaint with the state, accusing the Brinton campaign of violations of state campaign finance laws.

“There are such major issues with Lisa Brinton’s campaign finances that a complaint needed to be filed,” Camacho, Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairman, said in a statement. “Taking cash game cards, accepting multiple illegal contributions from businesses and failing to discuss the employer and occupation of her donors are clear violations of state campaign finance law. She has taken contributions from Jason Milligan while promising to ‘rip up the LDA’, effectively giving Milligan and Citibank city property for free. Even more troubling, she has failed to report all of her fundraising events or contributions as required by law, and in one instance materially misrepresents donations received in excess of state law limits. It is my hope that Elections Enforcement officials will fully investigate and act quickly to address these issues.”

Milligan is a real estate broker mired in a protracted legal battle with the City and the Redevelopment Agency. Brinton, the Republican-endorsed challenger to Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, has said that she would tear up the LDA, the Land Disposition Agreement at the heart of the lawsuit, and start over. Rilling asserts that the LDA is a contract between three parties and cannot be “torn up.”

Jason Milligan’s property at 23 Isaac St. The City and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency are seeking to reverse the sale of the property, the former Leonard Street parking lot, through a lawsuit, alleging that Milligan and Richard Olson of POKO Partners violated the Land Disposition Agreement for the properties. The LDA was originally between the City, the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and POKO Partners; since Citibank foreclosed on its construction loan with POKO, Citibank is now party to the LDA for that portion that pertains to the stalled development commonly called “POKO.”

Brinton did not reply to a request for a response to Camacho’s complaint and comments.

Campaign treasurer Bryan Meek, a Board of Education member seeking reelection, wrote, “I’m certain, if anyone had the time or care to comb through the other campaigns files they could find something.  I honestly don’t have the time or desire to sink to this level and the SEEC {State Elections Enforcement Commission} will be fair to us here as they have been in all my dealings with them having run 7 campaigns without this type of error.   Unfortunately for them, they will need to wade into the weeds here, probably cost and waste even more taxpayer dollars for the few mistakes I might have made.  I regret that, but it is what it is.  We’ll still make a donation to something other than Harry’s retirement fund.”

 

 

The accusations

Camacho’s complaint references the Brinton campaign filings of Oct. 10 and Oct. 29. The former lists a contribution of $500 Rogers Consulting LLC, “for an advertisement book which is $250 over the legally acceptable limit of contribution,” he states.

The Oct. 29 filing does not list “event activity,” though Brinton advertised an Oct. 14 fundraiser at My Three Sons, paid for by the Jason Christopher campaign, and two “meet and greets” during the period being reported.

Camacho alleges that free $5 cash game cards were distributed to all attendees at the My Three Sons fundraiser, as well as food from “Burger Bar,” including dinner and desserts. That’s all “apparently free of charge to the campaign without attribution. Such contributions are clearly prohibited by state statutes.”

It wasn’t on the filings of either the Brinton campaign or the Christopher campaign, and “no coordination between campaigns is disclosed either. Also, there are no contributions … that are tagged as related to this event.”

Camacho also alleges that former Common Council member David McCarthy contributed more than $1,000 to the Brinton campaign, in violation of state law.

There are 16 contributors for whom no occupation is listed, also a violation of the law, Camacho states.

 

 

‘They made no money’

NancyOnNorwalk spoke with Town Clerk Rick McQuaid on Thursday, asking about the absence of “event activity” on the Brinton filing, when three events had been advertised.

McQuaid said he had been unaware of an issue until he received an email from NancyOnNorwalk asking about it, because it’s not his job to police the reports, just make sure they’re filed on time, and the priority at present is the election.

He had contacted the Brinton campaign and informed the campaign that it had until Monday to file an amended report, he said. There would be no fine issued because the report was filed on time.

The My Three Sons event wasn’t listed on either the Christopher filing or the Brinton filing, he said.

“I think somebody just missed it. I mean, they’re both two new campaigns,” he said.

Christopher campaign treasure Brian Smith has been a campaign treasurer for decades. Meek says he’s served seven campaigns.

Smith did not reply to a Friday email.

“I will tell you this right now even if someone was to make a complaint to the SEEC right now, they aren’t going to look at it until after the elections, by far, but and they don’t have to they have a certain amount of days,” McQuaid said Thursday.

Regarding the Brinton fundraiser, “In checking with Jason Christopher, they made no money,” McQuaid said.

Campaigns are required to list “in kind” donations, such as food for a fundraiser, on their forms.

“Is it going to make a big difference? McQuaid said. “I think we’re talking maybe $200 and and just itemizing…. What’s it going to change? Everybody needs to get their people out to vote on Tuesday. That’s what’s going to win the election.”

 

Reviewing the documents

Brinton’s Oct. 10 filing appears to state that McCarthy’s total contribution (aggregate) is $850. The Oct. 30 filing states that McCarthy donated an additional $250. The total of that would be $1,100, in violation of state law, as reported by Camacho.

NancyOnNorwalk reviewed the Brinton campaign July filing and found conflicting information about McCarthy. In one listing, it’s stated that McCarthy’s aggregate contribution is $200 and in another it’s listed as $300. The $300 total is listed with an April donation and the $200 total is listed with a June donation.

Eight contributors are listed in the July filing as “N/A” under employment. The October filings have 12 listed as N/A and four that have the line left blank.

 

 

 

Meek calls Camacho’s complaint ‘noise’

“I’d have to do more digging to answer all of these thoroughly, but this is noise,” Meek wrote in a Friday email. “It is almost the year 2020 and we are still doing these filings on paper.  Mistakes are almost guaranteed.  I made one or two tops.  This hardly rises to the level of $900,000 walking out of city hall without any controls, to name just one thing.”

The “$900,000” is a reference to a payment made by the Norwalk Finance Department in October 2016, to scammers from China. City officials in January of this year said they had recovered $515,000 after an effort that included a legal battle with an insurance company.

“We still have no idea what amount of that was recovered from CIRMA, nor what the impact on our future premiums was from that,” Meek wrote Saturday.  “Nor did we hear of any accountability on anyone, nor did we hear that any kind of modern internal controls available since the 90s were applied.   I could list dozens of other abuses of taxpayer dollars.”

His Friday reply continued:

“That said, I can address a few things very quickly off of the complaint.

“I.  The legal requirement to disclose Principal Occupation and Employer only applies to donations of $100 or more.   #16 here was for $25 and not required for one.  I’m surprised a bar certified attorney can’t interpret this simple part of the law.  I’ll have to look at the rest of these later, but most if not all of these should be fixable on an amended filing, which I am allowed to do.   Given our average contribution hovers around $100 there could be more in this list, but for estimating purposes, I’m forecasting a $1500 liability on this that easily fixable.

“II.  Ad book.  I have to circle back with the campaign team, but we may have to refund $250 here, or it is possible it was for prepayment of an event adbook held after 10/27 filing deadline that should have been recorded timely or refunded by me.   $250 liability worst case.

“III.  Unrecorded in-kind donations.  This was a last minute thing that lost money, so there were no proceeds given to Lisa’s campaign.  We probably need to record the food and game cards as donations in kind, but there were less than a dozen individuals who showed up for this event to my knowledge as there were multiple conflicting events that night.  I honestly forgot about it given the immaterial nature, but I’m guessing no more than a $250 in kind contribution.

“IV.  David McCarthy’s donations did not exceed $1000.  I see my mistake on the October 10th filing which should have indicated a $650 aggregate contribution total.  That is an easy amendment and has $0 impact to the campaign.  I have electronic records to support this at my fingertips.

“Fortunately the campaign has been run so efficiently, if we have to return any and all of these monies we will still have a surplus to be able to donate some to charity.”

 

The “last minute” Oct. 14 fundraiser was advertised via Brinton’s Facebook page on Oct. 11.

Meek asked, “Do they have a platform yet beside more of this?”

57 comments

Isabelle Hargrove November 2, 2019 at 5:29 pm

So much money, power, and arrogance. Yet, so worried about a grassroots campaign that is catching on.

Mayor Rilling raised 3-times as much as Brinton, but he can’t sleep at night and gets his attack lawyer after her because My Three Sons handled out some tokens to some kids and a bunch of small donors didn’t fill out their forms properly and OH MY, big bad wolf McCarthy had the audacity to give $100 too much to tilt the election in Briton’s favor (oh wait no he didn’t after all).

Desperate people do desperate things, but this is a truly shocking absurdity. It is really time for change!

Frank Lee November 2, 2019 at 5:34 pm

If you can’t keep a simple campaign filing straight, how can anyone expect you to run a city? Is this the quality of people Lisa wants to hire?

The “transparent” campaign omits MULTIPLE required disclosures from its filing, and then the “accountability” campaign says it’s not their fault. Is Brian (apparently a CPA) really blaming his own pen and paper in his response above? Isn’t everyone filing the same way? That’s Brinton accountability, I guess!

There are MANY errors and omissions – not one or two. Systematic issues always say a lot about the quality of management.

Frank Lee November 2, 2019 at 5:42 pm

You’ve got to love that one of Brian’s numerous excuses is that Lisa had a fundraiser that lost money. MOMENTUM!!!

Bobby Lamb November 2, 2019 at 5:55 pm

Bryan and Lisa should be ashamed of themselves. – is this the kind of “professional management” and transparency we can expect from a Lisa administration? Her entire platform is about better financial management, no cronyism and more transparency. Here we have either completely incompetent book keeping and oversight. Hidden contributions from businesses and individuals. Illegal collusion with another campaign. Gifts from businesses without reporting it. Multiple fundraisers where no one gave any money? Where’s the accountability?? It’s ok if we hid things and broke the law because it’s “small” amounts of money? This is outrageous.

Bobby Lamb November 2, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Omitted a sentence above – either incompetent bookkeeping and management or intentional hiring of contributions and associations.

Jennifer Gilliam November 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm

I love how Meek says only 12 people came to the fundraiser because there were several things going on that night!! So funny!!

Frank Lee November 2, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Come on, @IsabelleHargrove – according to Brian the “campaign that is catching on” had a fundraiser two weeks ago that lost money and had only 12 people attend.

So Lisa claims she has the transparent campaign that is all about accountability, and has the management experience?

We’re looking at systematic failures on all counts and your best reply amounts to, “Whatever.” Laughable!

After almost a year of unfounded, unsubstantiated accusations against her opponent, we find out that Lisa accepts illegal donations from businesses; omits a whole slew of disclosures and doesn’t think it matters; and does an sloppy job of simple record keeping and reporting.

Keep drinking the Kool Aid…

Tysen Canevari November 2, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Cmon Mr Macho Camacho. Do you really want to go down that road? Sounds like you are gasping for air. Do you really want to open up that can of worms? Harry gets donations from people all over the state for a Norwalk election. Who is really being sketchy? Maybe you and Mr Suda should go schedule another softball game that no one will attend. Try doing something pro active for a change. I think you should fine the mayor for that statement he made at the debate, “A couple from Westport told me they left there to move to Norwalk for the school system!” Now that deserves a penalty of some sort for being comical at a mayoral debate

Frank Lee November 2, 2019 at 11:15 pm

@TysenCanevari yes let’s open the can of worms! What have you got? That Harry got some donations from out of town? Pathetic.

To the point at hand: you know where Harry’s donations come from BECAUSE HE FILES PROPER DISCLOSURES.

Lisa’s filings did not follow the law. Lisa’s filings hid donors. Lisa accepted illegal contributions from businesses. And now her treasurer won’t take responsibility – says it’s the state’s fault because he had to use a pen and paper. Poor thing!!

Your attempts at deflection are sad. Keep drinking the Kool Aid… NEXT…

DrewT November 3, 2019 at 9:07 am

Seems like the Riling Campaign along with many of the Democrats are running scared! Stay Woke Norwalk and vote for change and save our City on November 5th! Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors! Lisa speaks the truth about what is truthfully going on in this City. She will pull the cover off the back room deals, the magic accounting the overblown payroll at City Hall. This is all of our tax dollars. She will be open, honest and transparent as she has been this whole campaign. She will fight for us continually in Hartford! She won’t just sit back and play the political Duff games! We need her now more then ever! Vote Lisa On Tuesday!!

Mike McGuire November 3, 2019 at 9:11 am

Sad that the best the DtC chair can do is level a claim of racism against Lisa and now fiscal impropriety Based on conflicting information. More importantly we need the discussion on where Norwalk is going with topics like

1. The complete lack of transparency on POKO

2. Allowing predatory parking policy which has devastate small business in our urban core.

3. Having no policy, or thought, on the ELL issue even though is was readily apparent as a defined trend as early as 2015.

4. Curtailing illegal,apartments. That should have been done even before MAyor Rilling took office, but to miss the clues and couple it with sanctuary city status resulted in # 3 above. Then to hide behind ‘we’ll we can’t do anything about that now’ shows a clear lack of vision.

5 Walk Street bridge issue – the best we get is a fence and air conditioning at Lockwood Mathews. What about a train station at Wall? That was clearly articulated to Mayor Rilling as an essential compensation for 5 plus years of disruption for SoNo – but what do we get….nothing

6. How about a grossly illegal takeover of the Wall-West ave area via blight, which was fully supported by the Mayor,, only to be touted by the Mayor as thriving 7 months later. FYI folks if this goes to court it has potential Federal tax fraud implications for Norwalk.

7. What about Firetree, the mosque, the library parking, the removal of entire swaths of good businesses in SoNo to make way for upscale residential housing, FOIA slow walking, no benchmarking for our public budgeting.

8 Consider that 90 percent of Norwalk’s revenue comes from real estate taxes yet this administration does not have one well qualified commercial real estate industry pro on staff, or in an appointed position. That is why Norwalk gets snookered in real estate deals.

If they can surface a minor issue like $100 overpayment by McCarthy why can’t they seem to address the above issues with the same ruthless curiosity?

I used to support Mayor Rilling as did Lisa and many others. Many of us lost trust in Mayor Rilling based on the fact pattern noted above. We are a symptom of, or reaction to the establishment political nature of Norwalk politics summarized above. These are different times and require a different approach.

We need our government back – we need Lisa.

Ed Camacho, tearing up the LDA forces Citibank to sell at a market clearing price. The City wanted a housing project on that site. By letting the normal course of action to take place (I.e. an REO sale of the asset) the City achieves its goals. Regarding Milligan, he paid for the property. If you force him to give it back to Olsen what good does that do? The current POKO business is ill equipped to make anything happen on that site. Back to the question I have been asking for some time now – what good does it do? No one from the City seems able to answer that question. …. which is why I have lost trust in this administration.

Colin Hosten November 3, 2019 at 10:10 am

Interesting that someone applying to manage a $350million City budget can’t even keep the records straight on a $40,000 campaign budget. Not a good look at all.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 10:37 am

The ignorance from the attack dogs here is not surprising. It’s a perfect example of a campaign void of ideas and substance.

Taking issue with $500 of basic accounting errors, while ignoring $ millions vanishing from city hall under this administration is about as desperate as it gets.

Someday when I’m not doing anything productive, I might dig through the mayors files and donations and pick apart every last issue, which I can guarantee I will find.

Last year the SEEC held up scores and scores of election filings and those are submitted digitally. You have to love the ignorance of all the critics who do nothing for the city, but think they can do better.

Yes, I’m guilty of not checking a few boxes on a 500 page filing that is done manually thanks to the forward looking thinking of the Mayor’s team who still has citizens doing things on paper as we approach the year 2020.

The Assessors office, responsible for cataloging over $300 million a year that we rely on for taxes is still doing most of its work on paper and we know what that has resulted in.

I’m actually glad I made these tiny errors as it has done wonders to flush the rats out of the woodwork.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 10:48 am

The Duff and D’Amelio campaigns which each received almost $100,000 in state grants are still under audit from last year, if anyone wants to guess how long it might take for the SEEC to investigate the $500 I will have corrected on the reports. Looking at the bright side, I guess they aren’t calling me a racist anymore, but the dumpster diving tactics are laughable.

I’m certain the FOIA request on phone calls in and out of the mayor’s office will show that donors were never ever contacted. And I’m certain all the miles driven by 1NW to and from campaign events are clearly transparent on the mayor’s filings, just like his $30,000 mailer made payable to Bill Finch’s former chief of staff and the millions of dollars in tax breaks going. Again, I might look again someday when I have nothing productive to do like the Mayor’s entire team seems to have time for.

Peter Torrano November 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm

So, what voter has changed their mind at this stage of the election because of an unintentional filing or recording error? This truly is petty in the scope of things. It’s okay and legitimate to file a complaint. I’ve been a part of that myself. But when it was done we had enough sense to know that the voters couldn’t care less. The voters care about issues that affect them, not some political mud slinging.

Stick to the issues. Make your point doing your best to convince the voters that you’re the better person/party to run Norwalk.

Let the voters decide if they’re happy with the status quo or want change. They don’t care if a stray $100 was not handled properly.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Colin Hosten. $900,000 fraudulently walked out of city hall. We have yet to see what actions and remedies have been put in place. It’s all a big secret.

Colin Hosten, you sit on the body politic responsible for this $900,000 walking out of our treasury. We still don’t know the exact amount reimbursed by CIRMA, nor do we know how much our insurance with them will skyrocket. And we still have no explanation on the system of internal controls put in place to make sure this never happens again.

What’s the bigger issue Colin? My oversights under $1000, or your failure as a councilman to give transparency to taxpayers on the material significant control issues you preside over?

Care to explain? Not expecting a response, but nice pot shot.

Bobby Lamb November 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm

Lisa’s campaign is critical of the mayor’s fundraising. Specifically funds he accepted from individuals based on where they work. But she does not report where her donors work? She accuses him of doing favors for businesses that support him – but she takes money from businesses and doesn’t include it on her filing. It’s not math mistakes people are shocked about Bryan – it’s the lack of transparency and hypocrisy.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 3:50 pm

@Bobby. They are retired. Sorry they don’t work for the developers that are getting rich off of our backs. One of the complaints is for a $25 donation. The threshold for reporting employer is $100. Camacho is a bar certified attorney who apparently can’t read a simple law himself. I can own up to my mistakes. He is going to be a laughing stock at the SEEC when this is all said and done. The stuff they generally work on makes this look like taking a tag off a mattress.

Frank Lee November 3, 2019 at 9:02 pm

> “… on a 500 page filing that is done manually thanks to the forward looking thinking of the Mayor’s team…”

My goodness Brian did you make any effort whatsoever to learn anything about being a treasurer? It is state law – not the mayor or the city – that governs how filings are done. You should know that.

In additions it’s not just $500: you didn’t bother to fill out anything in section L1; coordinated with another campaign without making any disclosure about it; you decided you could omit another block of reporting because Lisa had a fundraiser that nobody attended; and you took donations from a business without any disclosures. It’s systematic failure – not a typo or two.

Now tou pretend to take responsibility by saying “just $500” and then you list a bunch of remedies that themselves are in some cases contra the statutes. You can’t be bothered to try to go the job correctly?

In the end demonstrate the same kind of lazy uninformed and uncurious attitude towards campaign finances that your boss exhibits towards actually solving problems. Her schtick is to say Norwalk sucks and the sky if falling – and yours is to say “whatever.”

Sad. Scary. Pathetic. Not what Norwalk needs.

Isabelle Hargrove November 3, 2019 at 9:16 pm

This is why I am a big advocate of campaign finance reform.

First raising $150,000 for a small city mayoral race is obscene and I am not entirely sure solely for the purpose of running this race but also build the coffers of the political machine.

Much of the influence of well-connected lawyers and developers would be greatly reduced if there was a cap to how much money can be spent.

The Hour just published a follow-up article and the quote from below really goes to the concerns so many residents share:

“I’m sure it is within the spirit of the law,” Rose said. “At the same time, when you have contractors giving money, particularly to an incumbent, It obviously raises important questions about influence and questions about various individuals and companies trying to buy access.”

https://www.ctinsider.com/elections/thehour/article/Campaign-contributions-spark-new-debate-in-14804826.php?_ga=2.68413202.2027961140.1572262514-2118960615.1568932017  

Secondly, the lack of transparency in the Rilling filing is really concerning. Nancy reported that Rilling’s October expenses include $30,000 to City & State LLC, under a code that indicates it’s for direct mailing.

Guess what, that obscure LLC’s Principal is none other than Adam Wood of 260 FRANCE STREET, ROCKY HILL, CT, 06067. Wood is Rilling’s professional campaign manager. What is the $30,000 for? If you are paying for mailers, the expense would be invoiced by a printer or marketing firm? and certainly not a round number…

https://www.concord-sots.ct.gov/CONCORD/online?sn=PublicInquiry&eid=9740  

Maybe Nancy can dig into this more and any other numerous undescriptive large expenses in the Rilling reports.

This David versus Goliath story is much more concerning to me than minor errors, worth less than $500, made by a volunteer treasurer helping a grassroots campaign.

And to the partisans trying to equate a volunteer effort to running a city. Last I checked no one is a volunteer at city hall. However, under Rilling’s watch, we had a botched reval and $900,000 disappearing…

Voters can decide.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Frank Lee, the SEEC will rule if this should have been a contribution in kind from the Christopher campaign. There were other L section events disclosed. Curious what your opinion is of the $900,000 walking out of city hall on the Mayor’s watch and the lack of transparency around the remedies for it? Not expecting you to answer given your clear slant.

Frank Lee November 3, 2019 at 11:28 pm

@Brian If it was an in-kind contribution from another campaign, you failed to report their contribution; AND they failed to report the donations from a business and the contribution to you. The only other possibility is that you failed to disclose an in-kind donation from a business, and failed to disclose an event. They’re all omissions and sloppy filing, so not sure what point you are trying to make?

@Isabelle You’re probably ill-informed in your assumptions. It’s very common for a campaign consultant to provide a variety of services: campaign consulting, direct mail, palm cards, electronic advertising, web site development, email list server, phone banks, etc. Each expenditure gets recorded according to its purpose.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 8:13 am

Frank proves the point that transparency is only for challengers for $25 or $50 worth of stuff, not the entrenched who can bury 5 and 6 figure amounts and tell you with a straight face that every thing is on the up and up.

Mimi Chang November 4, 2019 at 9:16 am

@Frank Lee… Instead of getting all in a twirl over a few innocuous hiccups regarding campaign donations, perhaps you should be more concerned about the giant, mold-ridden carcass of an unfinished building on Wall Street, known far and wide as the beacon of city hall mismanagement and wasted taxpayer dollars. Why is POKO given a pass? Norwalk taxpayers have a right to know, as it’s their money in the hole. Anyone who has their fingerprints on this project should be held accountable and voted out. In the corporate world, the project would’ve been killed and all the players would’ve been fired.

We voters must give Ms. Brinton the opportunity to get into city hall to look at the questionable POKO finances on behalf of us taxpayers. I’m sure she will uncover all kinds of goodies in general, particularly with regards to the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. That POKO building is a negative ROI, taxpayer sunk costs hole in the ground. Think of all the revenue lost over several years to that void. The frivolity with which taxpayer dollars have been thrown around is alarming. Senator Duff secured 5 mill to throw into that hole in the ground. Imagine what 5 mill could have done to help us play catch up with our education funding that Duff never seems to get an equitable amount of from Hartford? We need Ms. Brinton to keep Senator Duff in check.

@Frank Lee, let’s focus on the real issues, like how the current administration is fleecing its taxpayers and squandering their hard earned money, giving the community back much less in return. Camacho is a big part of the problem.

Out with the old, in with the new! Vote tomorrow, November 5th! #ChangeMayor!

Debora Goldstein November 4, 2019 at 9:20 am

To everyone that is chiming in that Treasurer activity is “simple book-keeping”, let me assure you that it is not. The forms are complex to account for a variety of different activities, each with their own rules and limits.

In addition, the Treasurer, if he/she does not attend each event him/herself, has to rely on others, frequently volunteers who aren’t steeped in the rules, to remember to report expenditures, in-kind expenditures, and very importantly, to relay complete, accurate paperwork and receipts.

Frequently you find missing information, donations over limits, etc only AFTER they have occurred.

There are also in-kind transactions that ARE contributions, in-kind transactions that AREN’T contributions, different reporting for candidate expenditures, differences for house parties that are fund-raisers and house parties that aren’t fund-raisers, etc.

It’s not to defend filing with errors, but its for everyone to understand this is not as simple as keeping your check registers up to date.

To Brian’s point, the CT statutes say this about reporting employers:

Content of statements. (1) Each statement filed under subsection (a), (e) or (f) of this section shall include, but not be limited to:
[…]
(F) for each individual who contributes in excess of one hundred dollars but not more than one thousand dollars, in the aggregate, to the extent known, the principal occupation of such individual and the name of the individual’s employer, if any.

————————————

Similarly, if the observation made about the $30k to the consulting fee did not overlook the secondary payee information in section T related to this firm, the statutes have this to say:

Content of statements. (1) Each statement filed under subsection (a), (e) or (f) of this section shall include, but not be limited to:
(B) an itemized accounting of each expenditure, if any, including the full name and complete address of each payee, including secondary payees whenever the primary or principal payee is known to include charges which the primary payee has already paid or will pay directly to another person, vendor or entity, the amount and the purpose of the expenditure, the candidate supported or opposed by the expenditure, whether the expenditure is made independently of the candidate supported or is an in-kind contribution to the candidate, and a statement of the balance on hand or deficit, as the case may be

The MUNICIPAL CANDIDATE GUIDEBOOK (https://seec.ct.gov/Portal/data/Publications/Guidebooks/2019MunicipalCandidateGuidebook.pdf) has this to say:

d. Payments to Consultants and Reporting of Secondary Payees
If a committee hires a professional person to provide campaign services, such as a consultant, and the consultant has made any payments to a vendor, such as for media advertising, as part of the contract with the committee, the consultant should provide details of the payments to the treasurer as such vendor(s) (secondary payees) are required to be disclosed in Section T, “Itemization of Reimbursements and Secondary Payees.” Secondary payees are those vendors, persons, or entities who received a payment from the consultant for goods or services purchased by the consultant for which the committee has paid the consultant.

Example: The Sam for First Selectman candidate committee contracted with Campaign in a Box, LLC for consulting services, paying the company $2,000 to provide general campaign strategy and to put together a direct mailer and a radio advertisement. Campaign in a Box, LLC prepared the content of the mailer and radio ad and then paid $1,000 to Political Advertising Warehouse for the mailer and $500 to WXYZ Radio for the radio ad. The Sam for First Selectman candidate committee must report the $2,000 payment to Campaign in a Box, LLC in Section P of SEEC Form 20 SEEC Form 20 SEEC Form 20SEEC Form 20 SEEC Form 20 and the secondary payments to Political Advertising Warehouse and WXYZ as separate entries in Section T of SEEC Form 20SEEC Form 20SEEC Form 20SEEC Form 20 SEEC Form 20SEEC Form 20 SEEC Form 20 .

This disclosure is not optional. We strongly recommend that treasurers use the language provided in our sample fee arrangement forms, including language putting anyone you hire on notice that they are required to provide you with secondary payee information. If you make them agree to provide this as part of your contract/agreement, and make sure that they are in fact providing you with the required underlying information, this will help your committee be in compliance. The treasurer is ultimately liable if campaign funds are not spent to directly further the candidate’s campaign, and the candidate’s reputation is at stake if something goes awry.

Debora Goldstein November 4, 2019 at 9:27 am

Oh, and by the way…Section A of the form allows you to report all “small contributors” as one lump dollar sum, without disclosing even names and addresses, much less employer info…

Isabelle Hargrove November 4, 2019 at 10:17 am

Frank Lee. You are correct, it is quite common for campaigns to lack total transparency and just write 1 big obscure check to an obscure LLC managed by a professional campaign manager.

That is exactly the problem. You can dismiss these concerns with the usual condescending tone. But we, “the little people who don’t understand much”, all have a vote… so we shall see.

Frank Lee November 4, 2019 at 11:03 am

Come on, Brian, you’re in tinfoil hat territory now! It’s a conspiracy of not being transparent by being transparent?!? Seriously?

Everything you and Isabelle are questioning is gathered from READING A PUBLIC DISCLOSURE that include the payee name, address, and purpose of the expenditure. None of it it unclear. It says “Direct Mail” and then the two of you ask, “Yeah but what is it for?” Silly. Desperate. Pathetic. Scary.

You clearly don’t understand transparency so it’s no wonder you screwed up your filing by OMITTING disclosures and HIDING donations from a business.

Frank Lee November 4, 2019 at 11:39 am

@Brian While you’re at it, why don’t you substantiate your claim that the Rilling campaign did “bury 5 and 6 figure amounts”? Buried what where? Buried a direct mail payment by reporting the direct mail payment for you, the press, and the public to see? Please elucidate. Some of us take these disclosures seriously even if you do not.

You’re treating campaign finances like some petty schoolyard game. Your handling of disclosures and the unfounded accusations are irresponsible.

Offer your evidence in the light of day or act like an adult and retract the accusation. This article is about YOUR well-substantiated, documented omissions and errors and that is the issue at hand.

Lisa’s campaign disclosures are not transparent by way of multiple omissions and errors. Lisa’s campaign refuses to be fully accountable. Sad. Pathetic.

Jason Milligan November 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Ed Camacho your claim is false which seems to be a trend lately.

You seem worried about Tuesday…

Nobody is effectively giving me city property for free.

I paid $3.2 million for 23 Isaacs Street.

The city gave it to POKO for free with the original LDA. There were protections in the LDA that allowed the City to reclaim both lots in the event of default.

Just ahead of his 1st reelection, July 27th 2015, Harry signed the LDA amendment that burned the taxpayer life boats and made it impossible to get back parking lot 1, and put the price at around $3 million to get back parking lot 2.

Harry signing that 2015 amendment was a HUGE mistake that tax payers are still paying for.

Jason Milligan November 4, 2019 at 2:46 pm

District A Rep Eloisa Melendez and NDTC Chair were asked if the Democratic State Central Committee had received any donations from John McClutchy of JHM, the preferred redeveloper for POKO. McClutchy gave $10,000 to the DSCC in May of this year. If we’re going to talk about campaign irregularities, let’s start there.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 3:13 pm

@Frank. Secondary payees must be disclosed. $900k walked out of city hall. No one knows what happened. $5 million went into POKO, no one knows what happened. Camachos claims against me include things that aren’t even violations. The press conference held by the Mayor at the Church yesterday violates local, state, and federal laws. I guess you guys are above the laws on the books that are just for us.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 7:35 pm

@Frank. Wrong. Section T is explicitly to report secondary payees like the post office if a consultant was paid a lump sum to deliver mailers for example. Nancy did not report section T disclosures. Maybe they are there. Doubtful. If they are not there, this constitutes a $30k omission of facts that are required to be disclosed. Again, I’d rather not sink to their level, but questions about my capabilities as a practitioner have been questioned and possibly damaged and I will be seeking remedies regardless of the outcome of the election. Your adding fuel to this fire is more motivating. Thanks.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 7:36 pm

FYI…I have officially FOIAd several campaign filings from years past. Two can play this game. Let’s see how my $250 oversight stacks up against a $30k omission, possibly more.

Frank Lee November 4, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Here’s a good example of how Section T might or might not be used:

On the Brinton campaign’s last filing, a $300.04 payment to “Isabelle Hargrove” was recorded in Section P (check #1014, 10/3/19). It is coded as OFF (office supplies) with the description “Misc Office Supplies”

Now if she had donated office supplies with she had laying around her house or office, that would be an in-kind contribution of something of value and would have been recorded in Section M. However we can assume that is not the case since it’s in Section P. Clearly Isabelle Hargrove was paid for office supplies.

Since Section T is completely blank on this filing, we would have to assume that “Isabelle Hargrove” is the purveyor of the office supplies and the entity with whom the Brinton campaign did its business. They bought office supplies from Isabelle Hargrove who sold the campaign office supplies. Presumably you or I might also be able to buy office supplies from Isabelle Hargrove, but I don’t know anything about her office supplies operation. I’d guess Brian has some record of a purchase of office supplies from Isabelle Hargrove in the form of an invoice or a receipt.

On the other hand, if it were the case that this payment represented reimbursement for Isabelle Hargrove’s purchase of miscellaneous office supplies from a secondary payee (e.g., Staples or Target) in a total amount of $300.04, then we would expect to see corresponding entries in Brian’s Section T. However as noted, that section is completely blank in his filing.

The SEEC guidebook (link below) and the underlying statutes are probably the best guide for learning how and what to disclose with a campaign’s finances. It’s all there in the instructions:

https://seec.ct.gov/Portal/data/forms/DiscForm/Form20/SEECForm20InstructionsMay2016.pdf

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 9:02 pm

Nancy, I am paying for them. That’s the difference. I will find something. I’m good at this and while I give a lot of credit to my opponent’s treasurer, it’s near impossible to have a full and accurate filing. You can ask any treasurer who has filed state election forms. The difference here is a dumpster dive on local records, which hasn’t been done EVER, but is now on last desperate play by a campaign devoid of ideas. But good job on stirring the pot.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 9:09 pm

We have all receipts Frank. The SEEC will be fair on both sides, I’m certain when they get to this in the next 2 years or so. But nice try to deflect from an administration that has let $ millions go squandered due to mismanagement.

Nancy Chapman November 4, 2019 at 9:11 pm

We have been paying for copies this year.
Section T of the Rilling report:
10/8: $11.69 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for Staples office supplies
10/8: $16.88 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for Staples office supplies
10/8: $54.18 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for Five Below, office supplies
10/8: $240.72 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for Walmart, office supplies
10/8: $23.77 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for Staples, expenditures associated with printing
10/15: $33.94 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for Balducci’s in Westport, food
10/18: $459.96 to Adam Wood, reimbursement for A Cook Print, other advertising

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 9:22 pm

Nancy, you brought a tear to my eye. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to dive into it like this. Where are the payments by the “consultant” to the USPS for the mailings….or did he hand deliver these himself? Notice our section P contains separate checks to the USPS for each contained mailing along with a separate payment to the vendor for their sorting / handling / printing fees. The SEEC has demanded details of payees like this in section T. I don’t think they are as worried about a pack of paper clips as $30k in postage.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 9:54 pm

Frank, thank’s for providing the link earlier that shows consultants secondary payees must be disclosed. Whether it’s $10 for paper clips or $30,000 in stamps, doesn’t matter. All my reports will be amended after my full internal audit. Again, my oversights amount to a few hundred, while our opponents are 5 figures plus.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Nancy, I have direct knowledge that the SEEC looks at section T, specifically for high paid consultant expenditures and the secondary payees. Individual expenditures should also go there, like the City’ of Norwalk’s gas and insurance for 1NW to go to campaign events.

Frank Lee November 4, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Looks like one campaign knows how to file a proper disclosure.

Nancy, can you confirm whether the Brinton campaign filing’s Section T is blank?

Also, do we know anything about Isabelle Hargrove’s office supplies business? Is it possible that Brian and the Brinton campaign simply omitted even more required disclosures than previously reported, in this case from their Section T?

Bryan Meek November 4, 2019 at 10:01 pm

Excuse me, the gas and insurance for 1NW to attend campaign events would be a donation in kind from the City of Norwalk, since it doesn’t appear the city was reimbursed for these.

Frank Lee November 4, 2019 at 10:14 pm

Good golly Brian, read the instructions and learn how to do your job! The SEEC has demanded no such details for payments to a corporation in exchange for services and products. What you are saying s objectively false.

A corporation does not make expenditures from personal funds and then request reimbursement from a campaign. A corporation charges money directly for services and products. It’s a totally different thing that would be inappropriate for a Section T.

I can’t believe you still need this to be explained over and over but don’t take my word for it.

READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE STATE, AND READ THE UNDERLYING STATUTES

https://seec.ct.gov/Portal/data/forms/DiscForm/Form20/SEECForm20InstructionsMay2016.pdf

Frank Lee November 4, 2019 at 10:53 pm

Nancy, I am confused.

I don’t see my comment that quotes directly the instructions from the SEEC on the purpose and use of Section T.

Was one of your policies broken by that comment? That’s a primary source, no? I’d think it would be relevant given the secondary (and largely inaccurate) information that’s been posted here.

From “Page 25 of 29”:

“In Section T, report each instance in which the treasurer, a committee worker or consultant, or candidate being funded by a town committee or a slate committee pays a secondary payee (vendor, person or entity) for committee-related expenses with their own personal funds.”

https://seec.ct.gov/Portal/data/forms/DiscForm/Form20/SEECForm20InstructionsMay2016.pdf

Bryan Meek November 5, 2019 at 6:49 am

Ok, so why has the SEEC demanded Secondary payee information on Section T for major national corporations who handle mailers? Much larger than Adam Wood LLC, I might add. Our section T needs to be amended for a few hundred in previous periods to reflect accuracy as it was not reported to me timely. I am within the statue of limitations for amending these. Again its a few hundred as opposed to 5 figures for a mailer without disclosing postage paid by the mayor’s single member LLC (“consultant”) as multinational companies have been required to do for the SEEC

Bryan Meek November 5, 2019 at 7:07 am

We’ll see what the SEEC has to say about it. Section 9-600(10) defines as follows: “Person” means an individual, committee, firm, partnership, organization, association, syndicate, company trust, corporation, LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY or any other legal entity of any kind but does not mean the state or any political or administrative subdivision of the state.

There is no exclusion listed in the statute for LLCs or other shell companies candidates might use to hide activity.

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