Norwalk Republican files complaint against Norwalk Dem

Mangiacopra campaign
A screen capture shows Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia circa 1977 in one of the recurring images from Norwalk Democratic mayoral hopeful Vinny Mangiacopra’s campaign.

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.”


18 responses to “Norwalk Republican files complaint against Norwalk Dem”

  1. oldtimer

    Wasn’t he a one-term councilman ? He withdrew from the campaign for re-election, as I recall. Be interesting to hear why.

  2. Bryan Meek

    I’m no fan of the SEEC, but we can’t have an executive who decides what laws to follow or not. And I’d be all in for abolishing the Democrat created SEEC entity all together. It is a waste of taxpayer money.

    But, this is besides the point. Whether or not the candidate created this for no cost isn’t the issue. Once he posted it on the internet it established a clear audit trail for a transaction of monetary substance. Even if it wasn’t his ISP that was used and someone else let him use theirs to upload it would be an in kind contribution and be subject to disclosures as well. If he used a computer at the library it would be even more serious violation of using public resources.

    It does seem silly, but given we already have a council with several who are clueless about the responsibilities of being a council person 16 months into it, do we really need a mayor who thinks he has the autonomy to interpret state law?

  3. Tim T

    This so typical of the Republicans. They just hate it when they don’t control the agenda. First they attempt to stifle freedom of the press and now this. This is one of the many reasons they will lose and lose big

  4. Jack Taylor


    I don’t understand what your comment brings to the table. Seems like teabag nonsense to me.

    The mayor doesn’t seem to get it. The issues facing Norwalk are more important that settling a petty squabble about the use of an old picture. That definitely makes him look like a product of the 70’s. Keep it up and you’ll lose control of the city. Let’s keep the issues front and center.

  5. LWitherspoon

    Making an issue out of whether or not a tagline appeared on a video is downright petty. This should be a campaign about issues.

  6. Diane C2

    I’m with the “rules are rules” camp on this one folks. If you don’t know the rules, learn them. If you know the rules, follow them. If you don’t like the rules, work to change them.

  7. Harold

    Wow already this is going on? This makes republicans look old and not in touch. I’m really surprised Moccia got back in this

  8. BARIN

    Vinny is right, we do have bigger fish to fry around here. Stick with the issues, focus people focus.
    I’m sure if the rules were broken it wont happen again, simply because you brought it to everyone’s attention.
    Bryan, it does’nt seem silly, it is silly, especially since Repubs complain about resolutions by Dems. The pot calling the kettle I would say. I hope this isn’t a diversion to make us forget Repubs just got busted, being sketchy with the council agenda.
    Hey Nancy, did you pick the picture of 1977 Moccia?

    1. Not me! I had never seen it before. He looks like he could have been one of my high school teachers.

  9. Joe Espo

    Wow Diane!! I have new found respect for you. And what do you suppose Vinny “Coconuts” Mangiacropa sought to accomplish from this? Er…that his grandfolks in the 1970’s that photographed with crappy Kodak film looked wierd? Believe me, anyone that adopted, then, today’s look back in the 70’s would have had no chance of sex or society. But Vinny “Coconuts” has no platform, no positions, no nothing that overcomes his lack of gravitas and credibility. Do we really really want Doogie Howser as Mayor?

  10. jlightfield

    OMG, Norwalk is on a twofer for not getting that the 21st century has disrupted just about everything. Broadcast versus shared. Digital economy versus downtown economy. Old world versus new world. Can we actually plan for the future for once and debate and discuss ideas instead?

  11. Lisa Thomson

    Vinny, Dick, Harry, Andy and Matt (if you are getting in) focus on the issues for Norwalk like crime, schools, redevelopment and transparency and be prepared to defend your positions. The more you attack one another versus presenting your platforms for moving this city forward, during challenging times, the more disgusted the voters will become.

  12. John K

    I am happy to see the introduction of some of the modern social media tools, but attacking people for their age without any other context is just wrong. The fact that it was done without attribution is the icing on the cake. Mr. Coconuts indeed! I will agree with Ms. Thompson and say that any candidate who is in it merely to insult others needs to go. Perhaps looking into what Mr. Mangy’s history is and what he has done before now might be in order, though.

  13. oldtimer

    This suggests that some people think this election is about replacing an angry old white man with a younger person who focuses on real issues. If enough people feel that way, moccia is finished. He has gotten to be his own worst enemy.
    Joe Espo seems to think that calling people names he makes up (Vinny Coconuts ?) adds to what little he has to say.
    When that picture of moccia was taken, he was a very engaging candidate. Even people who disagreed with his politics found him very likeable.

  14. Harold

    Looks to me that Dick cares more about the way people see him than what he can do to serve our city. Wasting time to complain about a 6 second video on twitter? How about worrying about issues that actually matter

  15. Diane C2

    @LisaT- well said!!! And true.

  16. Tim T

    What is it with the Republicans worrying about crap?? Maybe they should be more concerned with how they screwed-up Norwalk,

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