Groups object to Democrats’ Malloy mailer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ State elections regulators and a government watchdog group have formally objected to the Connecticut Democratic Party, saying money raised for federal campaigns is being used to pay for a mailer benefiting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election bid.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission and Common Cause of Connecticut said Tuesday they’ve submitted comments to the Federal Election Commission, objecting to the mailers, which have not yet been distributed. Republican legislative leaders also have voiced objections to the SEEC.

The FEC is considering a request from state Democrats for an advisory opinion on whether the mailer can be considered “federal election activity” as part of a get-out-the-vote effort. The mailers urge support for Malloy and also include voter information such as polling hours and a phone number to call to get a ride to the polls.

Connecticut’s two major political parties have separate state and federal campaign accounts, but Connecticut law imposes restrictions on the state account, including a ban on contributions from state contractors.

Karen Hobert Flynn, a senior vice president in Common Cause’s national office, said the Democratic State Central Committee is hoping to take advantage of more lax federal rules on fundraising by calling the mailer get-out-the-vote activity.

She said the get-out-the-vote portion of the card includes 15 out of 195 words in small font in the corner of the mailer.á

“Based on the FEC’s rules, those 15 words do not magically transform a mailer that promotes the re-election of Dannel Malloy into a GOTV piece,” she said. “The mailer is clearly a campaign piece designed to persuade voters to vote for Governor Malloy.”

state Democrats say they’ve received conflicting advice on whether the money can be spent on the mailings and are seeking clarification of federal law governing the federal account. In the footnotes of the party’s recent letter to the FEC, the Democrats’ lawyer says the contractor contributions are deposited in a special federal account and would not be spent on the mailing.

The party and the SEEC have been at odds over the issue for months. In their letter to the FEC, commission officials accuse the Democrats of trying to circumvent the state’s campaign financing law, passed in the wake of a public corruption scandal that ensnared former Gov. John G. Rowland.

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