Former Candidate Reaches Deal With Election Officials

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Greenwich businessman Tom Foley has agreed to pay nearly $16,000 for a public opinion poll that state elections officials contend is a political candidate expenditure, even though Foley hasn't announced plans to run for governor in 2014.

Members of the State Elections Enforcement Commission on October 16 accepted the settlement agreement reached with Foley, who recently formed a committee to explore whether to run for governor. Foley was the Republican Party's gubernatorial candidate in 2010.

Foley contends the poll he commissioned of 500 likely voters, conducted in February and March, should not be considered a campaign expenditure. He said it was a legitimate expense of Voters for Good Government, a Delaware corporation that paid for the poll and lists Foley as its treasurer. "This is all a big argument about whether or not a poll like this is considered an expenditure under Connecticut law. The Supreme Court doesn't think it is," said Foley, adding how he decided it ultimately made financial sense not to fight the commission and reach a settlement. "You could take this to the U.S. Supreme Court I suppose and win, [but] that's millions of dollars and years of effort," he said.

Under the agreement, Foley must reimburse Voters for Good Government for the $15,504 poll and Voters for Good Government must pay a civil penalty of $15,504 to the commission.

Kevin Ahern, a commission attorney, said Foley's commissioning of the poll and a memo he sent to news media constituted expenditures, automatically triggering his candidacy for public office. "These items were promotional of a Foley candidacy and as such were deemed to be made for the purpose of influencing Mr. Foley's nomination for election to public office," Ahern said.

Foley, who also must pay the Elections Enforcement Commission $600, said he has not yet determined when he'll decide whether to run for governor again.•

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