Connecticut Post: Duo of state lawmakers fight election fines (In the News)

Connecticut Post: Duo of state lawmakers fight election fines

By Ken Dixon

State Sen. Joe Markley of Southington and Rep. Rob Sampson of Wolcott were ordered this spring to pay $2,000 and $5,000 fines respectively, for what the State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled was an effort to help Republican Tom Foley’s challenge to Malloy.

Now, the Alexandria, Va-based Institute for Free Speech has agreed to pursue the case in state Superior Court along with Mike Cronin, a legal adviser for Senate Republicans.

“Talking about our opinions of the governor is almost essential campaign speech,” Markley said in a Tuesday interview. “The case, on a certain level, makes people scratch their heads.”

Markley, who won the state GOP endorsement for lieutenant governor last month, said the fines are an “unreasonable barrier to political speech.”

“This policy effectively bans candidates from speaking to voters about one of the most important responsibilities of the office they seek to hold – checking the power of the executive,” said Allen Dickerson, legal director of the non-profit institute…

[The SEEC] said that Sampson and Markley made illegal expenditures for Foley, who would have had to share the cost of the mailers…

Sampson, who is seeking Markley’s Senate seat, and the senator split the cost of mailers that, while highlighting their achievements in office, also mentioned Malloy’s tax hike and overall policies. Two more ads from Sampson mentioned the governor’s policies…

Markley recalled that about two dozen other Republican candidates had similar complaints against them and settled with the SEEC, but that in August, 2016, he and Sampson refused, and instead looked for support from First Amendment advocates.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.