A complaint filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) alleges the local conservative group Citizens for Responsible Government is disregarding state election laws that govern the activities of political action committees.
Robert Natt, an Easton resident who filed the complaint, accuses CRG of accepting contributions from prohibited sources, failing to collect donor information, not properly identifying itself on mailers, and not filing campaign finance disclosure statements, all of which are required by state law, according to the complaint.
CRG’s President Sherry Harris and Treasurer June Logie are named in the complaint, which was filed in November. The SEEC informed Natt in a letter dated Dec. 1 that the commission had voted to authorize an investigation into the complaint.
“I’m confident that CRG is going to be found in violation of the rules, which makes it the biggest hypocrite in town because it is very good at complaining that others don’t follow the rules,” said Natt, adding that he hired an election attorney to file the complaint.
On its website the Easton Eye, CRG calls itself the oldest PAC in Connecticut. It routinely mails out political and education-related pamphlets to Easton residents. Last year, the group made critical race theory a flashpoint in town, and group members also voiced opposition to school diversity and inclusion initiatives during board of education meetings.
When asked to respond to the allegations in the complaint, Logie told the Easton Courier that CRG is declining to comment at this time.
In his letter to the commission dated Nov. 9, Natt argues that CRG’s mass mailer sent during last year’s municipal election urging voters to defeat incumbent Democrat First Selectman David Bindelglass, and a blast text message that read “Please Save Small Town Easton with Your Republican Votes,” were political ads. Natt alleges that these communications violated state campaign finance laws because the group did not identify who paid for them.
“In order to be lawful, the mailing and text messaging would either need to be considered and properly reported as independent expenditures or contributions to one or more candidate or political committees,” the complaint states.
Natt also claims the PayPal button on CRG’s website and a GoFundMe page it maintained don’t adhere to Connecticut campaign finance laws, which require segregation of funds and identification of donors.
And finally, Natt claims that at the time of the filing of the complaint, CRG had not filed a financial disclosure report with the Easton Town Clerk since April 10, 2021, which, if true, would be a violation of state law because the group had been active in local politics, according to the complaint. Natt alleges that the reports all missed the filing deadlines per state guidelines.
Joshua Foley, an attorney for the commission, said complaints docketed for investigation shouldn’t be viewed as any indication of wrongdoing before the investigation is complete and the facts are determined by the commission.
“Sometimes a complaint results in the finding of a violation; sometimes it does not,” he said.