In the Matter of: a Complaint by Deschamps-Baker
Connecticut General Statutes §9-610, provides, "No incumbent holding office shall, during the three months preceding an election in which he is a candidate for reelection or election to another office, use public funds to mail or print flyers or other promotional materials intended to bring about his election or reelection." Allegedly, Catherine Osten, the first selectman of the Town of Sprague, used two pages of a municipal newsletter, "Our Town," to discuss her achievements, one week prior to a Nov. 2, 2010, election in which Osten was a candidate for the General Assembly from the 47th District. That edition of the municipal newsletter, which was 16 pages, cost about $574 to produce. The State Elections Enforcement Commission found that the respondent, as first selectman and acting editor, used public funds for the production and dissemination of a municipal newsletter. Although the column did not mention the first selectman's candidacy or party affiliation or solicit contributions, it included a laudatory description of her record as a public official and her military service in the U.S. Army. The State Elections Enforcement Commission found that the respondent used public funds to promote her election to the General Assembly, in violation of C.G.S. §9-610(d). An equivalent advertisement would have cost the first selectman $200. The State Elections Enforcement Commission ordered the respondent to comply with §9-610(d) in the future and to pay a civil penalty of $200.