Several organizations have filed a campaign finance complaint against Mike France State Representative R-Ledyard, who is challenging Joe Courtney for his US House seat in the 2nd District.
Common Cause in Connecticut and the Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint with the state Election Enforcement Commission, alleging that the American Legislative Exchange Council illegally donated, and that France illegally received and used , a campaign software connected to the Republican National Committee.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is a tax-exempt, conservative political organization. As a 501 (c) (3) organization, it is prohibited from participating in political campaigns. The Center for Media and Democracy is a nonprofit progressive rights watch and advocacy group. Common Cause in Connecticut describes itself as a non-partisan, nonprofit group focused on promoting responsible government.
The complaint says the Conservative group provided France with free RNC-related software amounting to an “in-kind campaign contribution valued at between $ 2,376 and $ 3,000” and violated the law “as as an entity prohibited by federal law from engaging in political activities and prohibited from making contributions.
This software is managed and owned by Voter Gravity, based in Virginia. According to the Associated Press, the company faces accusations that its software only contains data relating to registered and past Republican voters, making it a useful tool for Republicans and therefore used as a campaign tool.
The French campaign denied the claims in the complaint in a statement after The Day asked whether France or its campaign had received free voter management and campaign software for the 2020 elections from the conservative group.
“No, Mr. France’s campaigns have never used or received any voter management and campaign software from the ALEC,” the statement said. ” Sir. France’s campaigns have exclusively used voter management campaign software made available by the Connecticut Republican Party.
The Common Cause and Center for Media and Democracy decision is part of a large wave of similar complaints filed by the two organizations, along with others, filed in 14 states except Connecticut against the American Legislative Exchange. Council. According to the groups, France is one of more than 2,000 elected officials with access to the software.
“As a benefit of its membership in the ALEC, the ALEC has donated, and the Republic of France has received, free sophisticated voter management and campaigning software for the 2020 electoral cycle worth thousands of dollars, despite the CEFTA’s status as a 501 (c) (3) tax. exempt company banned from engaging in election activity under federal law and statute and in violation of Connecticut (statutes), ”the complaint states.
The complaint asks the Election Enforcement Commission to investigate and see if other state lawmakers linked to the ACFTA have had free access to the expensive software.
“Connecticut voters deserve to know that our elected officials represent us and are not beholden to special interests. That’s why we have strong campaign finance and disclosure laws, ”said Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut. “Aid to the covert campaign is particularly troubling, because it involves a secret relationship between the donor and the politician – and who knows what other secrets follow? “
The France campaign’s response to the allegations called Common Cause’s non-partisan good faith into question.
“If Common Cause Connecticut really wants to be a ‘non-partisan citizen lobby’ that wants to ‘limit the influence of money in politics’ as their website claims, they would do well to look at the huge sums of money that the representative claims. Joe Courtney receives business and political action committees, ”the campaign said in its statement. “The sad fact is that their claims of impartiality are only a way to deceive the citizens of Connecticut and the nonprofit law enforcement division of the IRS. “
The complaint goes on to say that the Conservative group is passing off a campaign tool as “constitutive communications.” He formally asks the commission to investigate and “impose the appropriate sanctions for all violations of the law found.”
Alexis Jarrett, spokesperson for the ALEC, rejected the complaint in an email to The Day.
“The wild assumptions and frivolous claims made in the complaint are reckless and made without any real knowledge of the constituents management platform,” Jarett wrote. “The French representative has never had an account, has not taken any training or had no direct knowledge of the component management platform. “
State law states that the Election Execution Commission must render a decision on a complaint within one year, failing which the complaint is automatically dismissed.
According to the Federal Election Commission, as of June 30, Courtney’s campaign had spent over $ 108,000 and had over $ 766,000 in cash, while the France campaign had spent nearly $ 26,000 and had close to of $ 89,000 in cash.