Quantcast

Morris, Watts receive Citizens’ Elections Program grant

This story was originally posted Thursday evening. This is a rewrite to add David Watts qualifying and his comments. 

Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A) qualified Thursday for Citizens' Election Program funds for his run  for state representative.
Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A) qualified Thursday for Citizens’ Election Program funds for his run for state representative.

NORWALK, Conn. – State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Democratic Party-endorsed state rep. candidate David Watts (137th District) have officially been notified they have qualified for a $27,850 grant from the Citizens’ Elections Program (CEP) for the 2014 campaign.

Watts is running against decade-long incumbent state Rep. Chris Perone. Getting the CEP grant took three trips to Hartford in a “pretty intense” process, Watts said.

In order to qualify for the program, a candidate must raise $5,000 and have at least 150 contributors from within Norwalk. Participation in CEP promotes clean and fair elections and seeks to neutralize the disproportionate influence of money in politics at the local level, according to the Secretary of State’s website. It increases the value of everyday citizens and makes the democratic process more transparent and inclusionary.

“It’s a pretty intense process and it should be because they want to make sure that everything checks out,” Watts said.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, grant amounts vary.

“Typically, primary grant amounts are $11,140 for state representative candidates and $38,990 for state senate candidates, but amounts are higher if the candidates run in districts where one major party has a large advantage in the number of electors registered with that party,” the site states. “In most races, general election grant amounts are $27,850 for state representative candidates and $94,690 for state senate candidates.”

Both the 140th and 137th districts are considered to be predominantly Democratic districts.

Watts said he raised $5,739 from 235 donations, of which 168 were from Norwalk residents. The amount over $5,000 was taken back by the state. He expected to get slightly less than $27,850 because the state is going to deduct the seed money he initially put into the campaign bank account.

“It’s been a grass-roots effort and I didn’t take any money from any lobbyists or any special interests, which I am most proud of,” Watts said. “I think that’s why this program is so important. Because it puts the power in the hands of the people versus the special interests and I am proud I didn’t collect any money from lobbyists.”

Perone said he had not filed for the grant as of Wednesday afternoon, but expressed confidence in an email that he would soon qualify for funding. “I feel we will make the cut,” he wrote. “We’re putting the package together and will be getting it up to Hartford soon.”

There are just seven days left to qualify for money for primary candidates (deadline is 5 p.m. July 18). General election candidates have until mid-October.

Watts called himself a “dark horse candidate” and said, “I am still probably going to be outspent by special interest groups, but it gives me an opportunity to be competitive.”

“I don’t mind being called controversial or bombastic if it means change in this city because it’s hard to change things. It’s very difficult. Some people just want me to go away so they are going to try to defeat me here because this could be the end for me,” Watts said.

Watts said he has been endorsed by Local 2405 of Council 4 AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees).

“The other unions will all endorse Chris because they’re going endorsing all incumbents,” Watts said. “They haven’t endorsed any challengers around the state at all. So I don’t anticipate getting any because they’re endorsing incumbents around the state. So it’s not anything personal, even with Council 4, who I have worked it… they are not going to endorse me either.”

State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) qualified Thursday for Citizens' Election Program funds for his run  for re-election.
State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) qualified Thursday for Citizens’ Election Program funds for his run for re-election.

Morris, a four-term incumbent, is the first candidate in the 140th District to fulfill the criteria to receive the grant. He is facing a primary challenge from fellow Democrat and former Common Councilman Warren Peña, who petitioned his way onto the ballot after Morris won the nomination in a district nominating caucus last May. There currently is no Republican candidate.

“I’d like to thank everyone that has contributed to the effort,” Morris said in a press release. “It’s fantastic to see that after eight years, the community supports me with the same vigor as they did on my first run.”

Morris fulfilled the grant requirements within three weeks, according to the release.

“Qualifying for this grant has been a community effort,” said Morris. “Over the course of this campaign, I, along with my supporters, will continue to be out knocking on doors, getting out our message of economic development, support for education and crime prevention.

Peña referred inquiries to his treasurer, who did not respond to requests for information. Peña was not on the list of recipients released by the Secretary of State Friday.

Emily Wilson and Fred Wilms, who will face off in the Republican primary for state representative in the 142nd District, were among the earliest qualifiers.

The next deadline is 5 p.m. July 16, with the final deadline for primary candidates at 5 p.m. July 18. The primary election is Aug. 12.

Original story posted at 1:37 a.m., updated at 10:35 a.m. Friday:

NORWALK, Conn. – State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Democratic Party-endorsed state rep. candidate David Watts (137th District) have officially been notified they have qualified for a grant from the Citizens’ Elections Program (CEP) for the 2014 campaign.

Morris, a four-term incumbent, is the first candidate in the 140th District to fulfill the criteria to receive the grant. He is facing a primary challenge from fellow Democrat and former Common Councilman Warren Peña, who petitioned his way onto the ballot after Morris won the nomination in a district nominating caucus last May. There currently is no Republican candidate.

“I’d like to thank everyone that has contributed to the effort,” Morris said in a press release. “It’s fantastic to see that after eight years, the community supports me with the same vigor as they did on my first run.”

Morris fulfilled the grant requirements within three weeks, according to the release.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, grant amounts vary.

“Typically, primary grant amounts are $11,140 for state representative candidates and $38,990 for state senate candidates, but amounts are higher if the candidates run in districts where one major party has a large advantage in the number of electors registered with that party. In most races, general
election grant amounts are $27,850 for state representative candidates and $94,690 for state senate candidates.”

Both the 140th and 137th districts are considered to be predominantly Democratic districts.

In order to qualify for the program, a candidate must raise $5,000 and have at least 150 contributors from within Norwalk. Participation in CEP promotes clean and fair elections and seeks to neutralize the disproportionate influence of money in politics at the local level. It increases the value of everyday citizens and makes the democratic process more transparent and inclusionary.

“Qualifying for this grant has been a community effort,” said Morris. “Over the course of this campaign, I, along with my supporters, will continue to be out knocking on doors, getting out our message of economic development, support for education and crime prevention.

Peña referred inquiries to his treasurer, who did not respond to requests for information.

Incumbent Chris Perone (D-137) had not filed for the grant as of Wednesday afternoon, but expressed confidence in an email that he would soon qualify for funding. “I feel we will make the cut,” he wrote. “We’re putting the package together and will be getting it up to Hartford soon.”

Emily Wilson and Fred Wilms, who will face off in the Republican primary for state representative in the 142nd District, were among the earliest qualifiers.

The next deadline is 5 p.m. July 16, with the final deadline for primary candidates at 5 p.m. July 18. The primary election is Aug. 12.

Comments

54 responses to “Morris, Watts receive Citizens’ Elections Program grant”

  1. Bill

    I never thought I would say this, but I hope Bruce Morris wins. Warren Pena has done so much to […] off and divide the latino community that I can no longer support him.

    -former Warren Pena supporter

    This comment was edited for language.

  2. Bill

    sorry for the language, I didn’t think that word was offensive. I’ll be sure not to use it in the future.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Bill

      Borderline, I admit…

  3. LWitherspoon

    $11,140 of our tax dollars are going to support David Watts’s run for state representative. At the same time Mr. Watts owes the city thousands in delinquent property taxes stretching back multiple tax years, and is using personal funds to rent an apartment in the district so that he can run for state representative.
    .
    There should be a rule requiring that candidates be up to date on personal property taxes in order to receive funds from the Citizens Election Program.

  4. we the people!

    LWithersoon,

    You need a new song because this one is a little out of tune. David is a great guy and a hard worker.

    I hope you’re sitting down because the Watts campaign is getting a $27,850 dollar grant.

    God bless, Team Watts.

  5. Oldtimer

    If Watts was way overdue on his taxes, as Witherspoon says he is, the Tax collector would have his property listed for the tax auction. Witherspoon’s attitude toward Watts sounds personal.

  6. LWitherspoon

    @oldtimer
    .
    Mr. Watts has unpaid taxes, interest, and sewer fees stretching back to 2012. The delinquent amount exceeds $5500. Easily verifiable on the City of Norwalk’s web site. I’ll let readers judge for themselves whether or not $5500 represents a significant amount of money.
    .
    I find it troubling that rather than paying his overdue taxes, Mr. Watts is using personal funds to rent an apartment inside Rep. Perone’s district for the sole purpose of this quixotic campaign. While at the same time maintaining ownership of his home outside of the district. So Mr. Watts clearly has the funds to pay his overdue tax bills, he simply chooses not to, effectively thumbing his nose at the Norwalk voters who sacrifice to pay their taxes on time. Meanwhile as a councilman he screams loudest when anyone floats an idea to save money for taxpayers in a way that doesn’t please municipal employee unions. So Mr. Watts serves himself first, he serves Unions second, and taxpayers come in a distant third. And we are forced to fund this nonsense via the Citizens Election Program.
    .
    @we the people! aka David Watts
    .
    The article above states that $11,140 is the amount granted for primary races. If the article is correct, you would have to win the primary to qualify for a grant of $27,850.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Witherspoon

      The story quotes th Secretary of State site as saying that candidates from districts dominated by a particular party are given more money. The party-dominant primary grant this year is $27,850. http://www.ct.gov/seec/lib/seec/2014gaandstatewide/cep_overview_2014_with_cpi_032014.pdf

    2. Mark Chapman

      @LWitherspoon

      Just as a point of interest, I would call your attention to this story, in which Watts addresses his move and his desire to have repairs made to his home in advance of putting it on the market.

  7. Watts Up Doc

    I find it highly suspicious that Watts has been awarded a grant. According to his campaign filings he only had $3650 raised as of 6/30. In order to have the grant approved at the 7/9 meeting, he would have needed to raise $1350 in qualifying funds by the 7/2 deadline. If he raised this much in three days, that’s impressive. If not, then we can clearly see from the report he has $141 left.

    http://seec.ct.gov/ecrisreporting/Data/Attachment/Unassigned/SEEC30_July_10_Filing_26719.PDF

  8. we the people!

    Lwitherspoon,

    You keep trashing Watts for cheap political points. People love this guy because he is not a photo shopped candidate. He is real and face real world problems.

    People have attack his weight and his son. Why… for 50 bucks a month?

    You should respect the people who put themselves out there for little pay and a whole lot of scrutiny.

    You have something personal against Watts. Your song is played out …time to switch the song and the format.

    Thank you, to all council members and all the non paid appointed officials.

    Lwitherspoon represents the worst of the blog world.

  9. LWitherspoon

    @Mark Chapman
    .
    Thank you for explaining the grant amount. It’s even more troubling that Mr. Watts’s campaign for state representative is receiving $27,850 in taxpayer funds while Mr. Watts has over $5500 in unpaid City taxes.
    .
    Thank you also for the link to the article. Has NoN ever asked Mr. Watts why he has prioritized his own political career ahead of paying his property taxes?
    .
    A recent NoN profile of Mr. Watts was quite illuminating. Mr. Watts stated to NoN that he works as a “political consultant” but wouldn’t say for whom, partly because he fears that opponents would use it against him. Are any of Mr. Watts’s “consulting clients” labor unions or labor union PACs?

  10. we the people!

    @Watts up doc

    Watts opened an exploratory committee while running for re election and raised over 5k.

    The balance was transferred to the campaign committee minus the funds over 100 dollars.

    A potential candidate can raise funds in exploratory and transfer the balance to a candidate committee.

    This was covered and questioned last year. Nobody understood why Watts was doing this but now it is clear he that he is a very good campaign organizer.

    Using the Obama fundraising model he has a network of donors who will keep giving small donations.

    235 donations is a great number and his opponent had to tap lobbyists and special interest money just to stay in the race.

    Watts is a good political scientist and a good Christian.

  11. LWitherspoon

    The contrast between David Watts and Chris Perone could not be more striking. A profile on Chris Perone receives many adoring comments from notable Norwalk public figures. A story about David Watts receives many comments raising legitimate concerns about the candidate’s past behavior and questionable judgement. The comments draw childish non-responses and self-praise from David Watts himself, under one of his many sock puppet accounts.

  12. Chevy Vega

    Watts got the votes. Perone got the “adoring comments”. Adios Chris.

  13. we the people!

    L Witherspoon is the leader of the sock puppets. He/she uses a fake name and criticizes other people who choose to remain anonymous.

    Chris is a great guy but you are clearly not doing him any favors.

    Instead of allowing people to weight in on Mr. Perone’s great story and his success you hijacked the tread and starting attacking Watts.

    You clearly need to the center of attention on this site and you use Watts’ name to get it.

    Use your real name if you are going to be so self righteous. I guarantee you will not do it.

    Get a new song because the one you’re playing ..is out of style like bell bottoms pants and butterfly collared shirts.

    Head down to the beach and buy a burger and wonder why you get excited about tearing people down.

  14. LWitherspoon

    @we the people aka David Watts
    .
    Posting anonymously doesn’t make someone a sock puppet. Posting under multiple usernames in support of yourself, as you so often do, is the definition of sock puppet.
    .
    You appear to have so many sock puppet accounts that it’s hard to keep track. Do you use a spreadsheet?
    .
    A partial list:
    .
    we the people!
    minimum wage worker
    L boogie
    Al jabro
    Bea Jones
    rickibobbi
    fight the power
    …and many more

    1. Mark Chapman

      @we the people, Lwitherspoon, et al

      Ok folks, we know the arguments, time to move on.

  15. potaxpayer

    i wouldn’t vote for either watts or morris, i hope there are better choices in november.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @potaxpayer

      The choice in the 137th right now is between Watts and Chris Perone, with Art Scialabba currently holding down the GOP ticket spot. That could change, as the former RTC chairman was announced as a “placeholder” candidate to ensure the Republicans access to the ballot.

      The choice in the 140th is between Morris and Warren Pena, with no GOP candidate to be considered, thanks to a clerical error. An unaffiliated candidate could petition her or his way into the race for November, but the betting here is, if you live in the 140th District, the Aug. 12 winner is your likely rep.

  16. we the people!

    This comment has been disallowed for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that we called a halt to the playground spat after the last round of “no, YOU are.”

  17. Norwalk headed for the dump!

    I will sell my house and move if Watts wins. This city is headed for the crapper.

    GET RID OF THIS MAN FOR GOOD!

  18. LWitherspoon

    While, on its own, this comment would not violate our policy, I requested an end to this back-and-forth, redundant playground spat, and just rejected a We the People comment. Enough is enough. We get it.

  19. Don’t Panic

    The challenge to “use your real name” when someone is losing the argument is getting old. Especially from someone passing under a pseudonym.
    .
    What matters is the message, not the messenger. Some of the greatest writers did so under pseudonyms — Mark Twain, Shakespeare, etc.
    .
    Norwalk has bigger fish to fry in this election, so let’s leave some column inches to hear what the candidates have to say about the issues.

  20. Bill

    God help us if Watts some how manages to win election. I don’t know how he gets elected to city council, wait, yes I do, it’s called voter apathy; and too many renters not caring about the long term needs of the city. Vote Watts and you are guaranteeing state employees get 4%+ raises in perpetuity and no accountability.

  21. Hobbes the Calvinist

    Perennial nice guy (and un-campaigner) Perone needs to do the math- a heck of lot of school buses can be rented for $27,850!

    As for the Morris-Pena non-fight, with Morris’ name recognition, community ties and absence of South Norwalk Community Center taint, he already had all the advantages he needed. The taxpayer money will make him look like Mike Tyson against Michael Spinks.

    Pena is probably not too worried about not qualifying for the money- after all, who needs taxpayer funding when you have a non-profit’s checkbook to help fund a political campaign?

  22. Watts Up Doc

    @we the sheeple. Except Watt’s exploratory only shows $3400 in contributions. The state must have carried Watts across the goal line from some pretty shabby reporting. The bright side is Dunkin Donuts and the Pizza places are about to get a big shot in the arm.

    http://seec.ct.gov/ecrisreporting/Data/Attachment/Unassigned/SEEC30_July_10_Filing_26184.PDF

  23. we the people!

    Watts up Doc

    You must add like you spell. Watts is not spelled Watt’s it’s Watts’ or Watts’s.

    Now, you want to discredit Watts’fundraising. What a joke?

    Watts raised over $5,000 from 235 donors and you know it, pal. NoN covered the story when Watts hit the 5k bench mark.

    I’m sure Team Watts will support local businesses. Maybe, your candidate can spend some of that Beer and Liquor distributor money collected, too.

    Do you agree that Lobbyists or PAC money undermines the Citizens Elections Program? I do!

    Having Lobbyists or Beer and Liquor distributors write 100 dollar checks is legal but it stinks,pal and you know it.

  24. Watts Up Doc

    Watt-ever.
    .
    Taking lobbyist or PAC money isn’t legal for grants. Nor is paying your wife for services like David Watt’s filings show. It is however legal to spend all the money on pizza and donuts that the reports show too.
    .
    But that’s not the point. The legal documents on the Secretary of States website CLEARLY show that David Watts 2014 exploratory and candidate committees have raised $3650 combined. Someone either filed a false report, also not legal, or the SOS is lying.

  25. Watts Up Doc

    Search on candidate Watts + treasurer Watts + 2014 and the full record is there.
    .
    http://seec.ct.gov/ecrisreporting/SearchingDoc.aspx

  26. LWitherspoon

    @Watts Up Doc
    .
    How much, if anything, was paid by the Watts campaign to David Watts’s wife and what were the services provided?

  27. EveT

    About the language (“[—] off”) thank you for editing it. It is offensive and it is used way too often these days. There are many ways to say “alienate” or “infuriate” without using a vulgar word.

  28. EveT

    @Oldtimer, in an earlier NoN story the tax collector explains why some properties are not up for tax sale even thought their taxes are in arrears. It depends on the amount owed and partial payments made.

  29. we the people!

    @Witherspoon

    Now, you’re attacking the guys wife. The Citizens Election Program prevents candidates from hiring family members. Period!

    Mrs. Watts is a well respected teacher and helped a lot Norwalk young adults.

    In politics families have always been off limits.

    @ Watts up doc

    You have to go back to 2013. I would trust state auditors before some lackey trying to undermine a major achievement of 235 donations without taking money from Lobbyists,PACS, and/or special interest.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @We the People

      Just a point of order, since NoN generally agrees with families being off limits — Mrs. Watts is listed as her husband’s campaign treasurer, making her a part of the story.

  30. Watts Up Doc

    @spoon. http://seec.ct.gov/ecrisreporting/Data/Attachment/Unassigned/SEEC30_140707_1.1.pdf


    The reimbursement to her on p 23 is legal. The payment on 25 is not.

    @we the sheeple. fyi…candidate and exploratory committees do not have fiscal years. They run the course of an election cycle. Watt’s filings clearly show he only rolled $3400 from his exploratory into his candidate committee which then raised another $200 or so. I’m not making it up. It is plain as day on the SOS website. It would appear by some luck that Watts was able to raise either $1400 in two days and get all his paperwork in at the same time or he received some very favorable treatment in his grant application.

  31. LWitherspoon

    @we the people! aka David Watts
    .
    Please read my comment again. “Watts up Doc” claimed that your wife was paid for services with campaign funds. I merely asked “Watts up Doc” to provide details.

  32. New Era

    this is truly interesting! I wonder if Pena and Perone got the grant? besides these too

    1. Mark Chapman

      @new era

      If you read the story, the answer is there. No, not as of the most recent round of grants.

  33. we the people!

    Watts up doc

    Should be sued for political malpractice because they cant read reports.

    Mrs. Watts has never been paid for any service. Period!

    If you look at the termination of the exploratory report it shows the total amount raised and the balance carried forward.

    The Watts campaign feeds their volunteers and provides coffee.

    Maybe your candidate will spend some of lobbyists,PAC and liquor and beer money on your volunteers too.

    Doubt it!

  34. Bill

    Shirley Mosby gave Watts money….that’s all I need to know in order to not vote for this guy.

  35. Watts Up Doc

    We the People should be required to repeat third grade.
    .
    http://seec.ct.gov/ecrisreporting/Data/Attachment/Unassigned/SEEC30_140707_1.1.pdf
    .
    page 25. 3rd Entry under section covering expenses paid by campaign. NAME OF PAYEE: First Student – Kathleen Watts. $263. ATM Cash withdrew to pay no less, which is also a campaign finance violation.
    .
    I would define political malpractice more closely to the act of not reading council packets, grandstanding on the floor of the council, skipping council meetings, and taking tax payer dollars to blow on pizza and donuts and so called “consultants”, all while not paying your own taxes. But maybe that’s just me.

  36. LWitherspoon

    @Watts Up Doc
    .
    So it was a violation for Mrs. Watts to withdraw ATM Cash to pay expenses? Why is such a thing against the rules?
    .
    I find it interesting that the campaign expenses also show ten instances of paying individuals to do “community outreach”. Is it normal for campaigns to pay people to do “community outreach”? Isn’t that what volunteers are for?
    .
    I have read stories of campaigns in urban areas paying workers to round up voters and bring them to the polls, and wonder if that is the role these “community outreach” workers played in the Watts campaign. Is such a practice legal?

  37. Bill

    Who heck do you think was driving the Watts’ bus to bring people to the caucus? Who would volunteer for Watts for free? No one

  38. Watts Up Doc

    @spoon. I’m not sure as to the exact reasons why, but those receiving grants are restricted from paying cash for anything over $50. Coincidentally, this rule and the rule on spouses/relatives appears on the same page 105. http://www.ct.gov/seec/lib/seec/2014gaandstatewide/2014_cep_guide_final_march_2014.pdf
    .
    That said, I can imagine why the state limits cash to $50. Anyone under the sun can generate what looks like an invoice or multiple invoices for bogus services or goods. Cash payments have no audit trail, whereas checks and electronic payments are heavily regulated transactions.
    .
    As for the practice of hiring community outreach folks, aka bogus consultants, it is legitimate without a contract if the amount is under $100. Of course, with the level of scrutiny given to certain applicants I find it hard to believe the state would ever conduct an audit deep enough to uncover what is easily an opportunity to commit fraud. We’re not just talking one grant here either. We are talking almost $50 million dollars that the state doesn’t have when you add up all the grants.

  39. we the people!

    Lwitherspoon,

    Watts, has a right to pay individuals to canvas. Paid canvas is done all the time. The new way is to pay consultants and they pay workers for outreach. Mainly to avoid this discussion.

    Watts helped some people put some food on the table. So what?

    The ideal way to pay a vendor is
    with a campaign check however, some vendors don’t accept personal nor business checks.

    First student only accepts certified bank checks or money orders.

    Mrs. Watts must have withdrawn the money to pay first student with a bank check or money order.

    First student is a school bus company (Norwalk) and Watts won the caucus because he used their services.

    Money well spent.

    The bus is a classic moment in political history.

    Councilman Watts pays and feeds people. What a scandal? Its only the most benevolent thing to do.

    Sounds like a great guy to work for.

  40. we the people!

    Watts up doc

    Is guilty of political malpractice because Watts was not in the program at the time of this withdrawal.

    Watts was just approved and the money is in the mail. Nice try, Pal.

    Silly season is here.

  41. justMe

    Paying KATHLEEN WATTS ANY money for ANY reason is a violation. Call SEEC and ask them your self.

  42. we the people!

    Justme

    Kathleen Watts has NOT been paid for any services. She has always work quietly behind the scenes.

    The campaign is saving money by Kathleen serving as Treasurer.

    The SEEC rules allow up to $1,000 and the campaign is saving that money.

    The Watts campaign did’nt budget for $28, 000 it was believed the CEP grant would $11,000 and they didn’t want blow a grand on accounting services.

    Give the guys wife and kid a break.

  43. Oyster

    As the Treasurer, Kathleen Watts should have know that a disbursement of that size should not have been done as an ATM withdrawal. She should have written a check out of the campaign account and cashed it, if the vendor truly wouldn’t accept a check or a credit card, which seems odd.
    .
    If Mrs. Watts was the driver, as an employee of First Student, then she was the indirect recipient of those funds. Being at both ends of the transaction, and doing an inappropriate ATM transaction to deal in cash looks strange, at the very least.

  44. Sjur Soleng

    It must be exhausting writing about yourself in the third person. Why not change the username to your ‘real’ name and stop this childish behavior.

  45. peter parker

    Congratulations David. May the best person win.

  46. Bill

    Are you all saying Watts’ wife drove the bus? I don’t think she did, but worth looking into it if she works for the bus company.

  47. Oyster

    Why else would her name be on the report?

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments